Plastic DNA is part of a corpus of several works committed to thwarting the often erroneous or distorted representations that we make of the DNA molecule.
As part of Dominique Peysson's artistic residency at the Espace Jean-Roger Caussimon in Tremblay-en-France, in partnership with the Lieu Multiple, the Ecole de l'ADN and the Ebi-Carbios laboratory in Poitiers and supported by the Seine-Saint-Denis Department and the Ile-de-France Region.
ADN en plastiques was exhibited from January 5 to March 10, 2017 for the exhibition Première Impression, composed of 5 of my works on DNA.
Plastic DNA gives us to see the result of a long work of development. Starting from the principle that DNA is an immensely long molecule, thus belonging to what we are used to call "plastic", I took the decision to desacralize the DNA molecule to consider it to be what it is according to this last definition: plastic. The axis allowing to consider this molecule then changes completely: is it possible to manipulate DNA at our size scale? What is its consistency? What is the proportion by weight of DNA in our body? In short, if we leave the sphere of the symbolic, what remains of this helical molecule?
This work seeks to thwart the often erroneous or distorted representations that we make of the DNA molecule. Bearer of a symbolic force without common measure since it is the guarantor of our own identity as well as the evolution of every living being, the idea that we have of DNA remains trapped in an imaginary representation prefabricated by scientists themselves or by the media. Of course, the complexity of its functioning makes any will to grasp its keys particularly difficult, but rather than oversimplifying and freezing things in an oversimplified image (a double helix levitating in non-space), it may be more interesting to generate multiple aesthetic and operative forms to represent it to us. As part of my artistic residency, I have made small objects, those usually made of low-end plastic, or identical to the very first objects made of plastic. I used two reagents to tint them pink or glass: Schiff's reagent and methyl pyronine green, both of which are used in biology to detect the presence of DNA.
Conceived as a research experiment, the residency allowed me to produce different works. Although the results in themselves, they remain points of departure for further research.
It all started from a rapprochement between two definitions... It goes like this: plastic is a material whose particularity is that it is made of extremely long molecules. DNA is an immensely long molecule. So, DNA is plastic... It is not an image, nor a metaphor, but a reality. However, it leads to the superimposition of two representations that do not belong at all to the same categories in our thinking... It is this big gap between the boxes in which we have placed them and their common definition (macromolecules) that I wanted to use. For it is where things go out of order, where classifications come up against the unthinkable, that something can be created...
Plastic could be characterized as the lowest grade material among those we use in our daily lives. It is radically different in this respect from natural materials considered much more noble, such as wood, stone, wool or cotton fibers.
DNA, on the other hand, is not considered a "material" as such, since it is only used in nature as a carrier of information and not as a raw material for manufacturing. Unlike plastic, it carries a particularly strong symbolic dimension. The DNA macromolecule, the DNA strand as it is called, is conceived as a single chain linked to another complementary macromolecule, the two strands taking the form of a helix. It is thus "seen" in our imagination as a single entity, whose very precise composition (succession of molecules that make it up) is essential since it determines the absolute uniqueness of the being that carries it.
I decided from that moment on to make small objects, identical to those usually found in plastic: small figurines, following the stereotypical codes of small games of this type: the princess character and the little soldier. With a return to the very first objects to have been made out of plastic, such as buttons.