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Dr. Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a transdisciplinary artist and educator who is interested in art as research and critical practice.
Probably Chelsea consists of thirty different possible portraits of Chelsea Manning algorithmically-generated by an analysis of her DNA. Genomic data can tell a multitude of different stories about who and what you are. Probably Chelsea shows just how many ways your DNA can be interpreted as data, and how subjective the act of reading DNA really is.
Chelsea Manning is the whistleblower who exposed some of the U.S. government's worst abuses and is currently serving a 35-year sentence in military prison for convictions related to those exposures. She is a transgender woman and Guardian columnist and a leader in the movements for transgender justice and government accountability.
Spirit Molecule is a series of experiments that imagine a future of biotechnologized mourning. The artist used a process called transgenesis to infuse a lost loved one’s DNA into a psychoactive plant that is meant to be consumed in a final journey of intimacy with the other.
Lovesick, a literal love virus, is the outcome of the artist's residency with Integral Molecular, a vaccine and drug discovery company based in Philadelphia. Together they invented a custom retrovirus, which infects human cells with a gene that increases the production of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for empathy and bonding.
"The installation consists of the vials of glowing virus, video of the microscopic cells expressing their infection, and a piece of music based on a 14th century ballad by Francesco Landini that tells the story of a woman struggling with a love that is in vain. I have re-written the song to list instead the letters representing the proteins contained in the oxytocin molecule.
I imagine a lovesick future in which individuals, couples, and groups consume this virus by smashing open the glass vials, pouring the fluid into their mouths, incubating it there for several seconds, then swallowing, while chanting together, or humming to themselves, "CYIQNCPL.""
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