DNA has become synonymous with identity in myriad ways. Prosecutors hail it as a gold standard of criminal identification capable of discriminating one individual from all others, while genetic testing services proclaim its power to describe our ancestry, our pasts, our predispositions, our liabilities and indeed our genetic destiny. DNA has come to symbolize both our group and our self identity. In many ways it has replaced the Judeo-Christian concept of the soul as our individual essence, motivating force and deep seat of subjectivity.
But… might these seductive notions be oversimplifying things a bit?
Paul Vanouse is an artist and Professor of Art at the University at Buffalo, NY, where he is heads the program in Emerging Practices and directs the new Coalesce Center for Biological Art. Interdisciplinarity and impassioned amateurism guide his art practice. His biological and interactive media projects have been exhibited in over 25 countries and widely across the US. Recent solo exhibitions include: Beall Center at UC Irvine (2013), Muffathalle in Munich (2012), Schering Foundation in Berlin (2011), and Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana (2011). He has received numerous awards at festivals such as Prix ARS Electronica in Austria and VIDA in Spain. His recent projects, “Latent Figure Protocol”, “Ocular Revision” and “Suspect Inversion Center” use molecular biology techniques to challenge “genome-hype” and to confront issues surrounding DNA fingerprinting, particularly the idea the most authoritative image of our time, the DNA fingerprint, is somehow natural.