VISUALIZING THE INVISIBLE

CRISPR-CAS9 (A ray of light)2

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“The story of CRISPR is a reminder that breakthroughs can come from unexpected places and that it’s important to let a desire to understand nature dictate the path forward. But it’s also a reminder that scientists and laypeople alike bear a tremendous responsibility for the scientific process and its outputs. We must continue to support new findings in all areas of science, and we must wholeheartedly embrace and diligently exercise our stewardship over these discoveries. For, as history makes clear, just because we are not ready for scientific progress does not mean it won’t happen. Every time we unlock one of nature’s secrets, it signals the end of one experiment - and the beginning of many others.”

 

Jennifer A Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg, A Crack in Creation: Gene Edition and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution. 

CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of Light)2, Panel 1, 2018

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Azadeh Gholizadeh

Jennifer Doudna, The Doudna Lab: RNA Biology, University of California, Berkeley; Megan Hochstrasser, Innovative Genomics Institute, University of California, Berkeley

Inspired by Caleb Sandor Taub

Virtual Photograph/Digital PHSCologram Sculpture Details: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

30 x 30 inches

Art is a beacon for communicating and re-presenting scientific discoveries in an illuminating way that can touch the human spirit. The inherent scientific nature of this seminal work is key to stirring a cultural dialogue in which art can engage viewers with current scientific research endeavors. This unique, virtual experience features groundbreaking scientific processes paired with artistic practices that were done with Man Ray’s rayograms experimenting with light. Here viewers directly experience art intersecting science, thereby catalyzing a dynamic language that invites a wider audience to contemplate this new frontier and consider its array of possibilities. 

 

Like the title of this piece, CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of Light)2 the imagery conveys a ray of light, hope and positivity for Cal, and many other heroes and heroines of this new scientific age. This unique collaboration between Ellen Sandor, (art)n Lab and the Doudna Lab at University of California, Berkeley, engages participants with the intersection of art and cutting edge bio science. Sandor and (art)n collaborated with the Doudna Lab for nearly a year, which resulted in two immersive PHSCologram sculptures and a Virtual Reality piece. 

 

CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of Light)2, 2018 challenges viewers to consciously participate in the current debate of gene editing.  The controversial and significant scientific discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 has reached a critical tipping point where there is a growing disconnection between scientific research and its impact on our society. To bridge this gap, Sandor and (art)n decoded science into a visual narrative that speaks to our collective consciousness with a compassionate nature to better understand this important discovery. 

 

CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of Light)2 was inspired by Sandor’s grandson, Caleb Sandor Taub, who has a severe autism disorder. Cal who is non-verbal, was able to communicate with Sandor for the first time at the age of 18 using the RPM method. He explained how he personally researched the potential of gene editing to learn more about possible cures for autism. He then shared his exciting discoveries through nonverbal RPM about the promising gene-editing capability of CRISPR-Cas9, how it could transform his life and others born with different disorders and become what he calls “a ray of light”.  In these works, CRISPR-Cas9 is juxtaposed with imagery by Man Ray and Ruth Bernhard, fusing the visible with the invisible–as an illumined pathway towards a future filled with light.  

 

(art)n’s collaboration with the Doudna Lab shows different stages of CRISPR-Cas9 scientists explored to edit harmful genetic mutations. First, the RNA-guided Cas9 protein searches for its matching DNA target. Next, the guide RNA pairs with one strand of the target DNA, and then Cas9 cuts both strands. Finally, the cell’s repair machinery seals up the break by patching in a stretch of healthy DNA.

CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of Light)2, Panel 2, 2018

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Azadeh Gholizadeh

Jennifer Doudna, The Doudna Lab: RNA Biology, University of California, Berkeley; Megan Hochstrasser, Innovative Genomics Institute, University of California, Berkeley

Inspired by Caleb Sandor Taub

Virtual Photograph/Digital PHSCologram Sculpture Details: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

30 x 30 inches

CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of Light)2, Panel 3, 2018

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Azadeh Gholizadeh

Jennifer Doudna, The Doudna Lab: RNA Biology, University of California, Berkeley; Megan Hochstrasser, Innovative Genomics Institute, University of California, Berkeley

Inspired by Caleb Sandor Taub

Virtual Photograph/Digital PHSCologram Sculpture Details: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

30 x 30 inches

CRISPR-Cas9 is juxtaposed with Nude in box-reclining, 1962, Ruth Bernhard, 6 x 13 3/4 inches Vintage silver print; Sand Dune Nude, 1967, Ruth Bernhard, 5 1/4 x 13 inches Vintage gelatin silver print; Electricite. Dix Rayogrammes de Man Ray et un Texte de Pierre Bost, 1931, Man Ray, 10 Vintage gelatin silver prints, from the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection.

© 2020  (art)n