Exhibition: 9e2 – (9 Evenings 2)
Kings Street Station
Seattle, WA

Gene Splicing was developed for the art and technology festival “9e2” (9 Evenings 2) in Seattle, Washington,  it builds on the project The Tactile Transducers, in which I used personal reflection of a drummer to generate objects that he then played in performance. In Gene Splicing I decided to go deeper using the DNA data of the two percussionists to influence the creation of a series of glass objects. The percussionists were guided in the performance by two large video projections of instructions which were also generated using their DNA data. In the finale of the performance the glass debris is swept up (spliced) using amplified brooms.

Percussion: John Lane and Stuart McLeod
Glass objects: Morgan Peterson and James Anderegg
Data wrangling: Ranjit Bhatnagar
DNA consulting: Jared Roach

*** Special thanks to Pilchuck Glass School for their generous support and to John Boylan, Sarah Kavage and the rest of the 9e2 team.

Gene Splicing consists of 3 movements:

Movement 1 – GOOD/BAD (7 min)
The glass objects for this movement, fabricated by Jimmy Anderegg and Morgan Peterson, were generated using rough collections of data considered “good” or “bad.” The shapes are essentially glass fever developed with the help of Ranjit Bhatangar, that interpreted info from DNA data that was “sifted” using the service Promethease.  As the DNA researcher Jared Roach cautioned me:

I am not really sure there is such a thing as a good or bad gene. There are variants (aka mutations) that may carry disease risk. But these seem variants might also be beneficial (eg they might make you smarter) so it would be hard to say if they are good or bad. Some variants are very rare and almost certainly bad (eg those that cause cystic fibrosis) but these are not included on the 23andme panel.

A video posted by John Roach (@johnroachart) on

Movement 2 – INSTRUCTION SCORES (32 min)

The objects for this movement were created using information from each percussionists’ DNA data that corresponded to specific traits as characterized by the DNA report building tool Promethease. Ranjit Bhatagnar and I sifted through the data to find patterns and selected 4 different traits: PAIN, EYE COLOR, COFFEE and CANNABIS. We used the data to generate sets of instructions for the glass blowers that they then used to follow when fabricating the objects.

The same data used for each object was also used to create sets of instructions for the percussionists. During the performance each percussionist faced his own set of instructions which evolved over the course of 32 minutes.

Movement 3 – SPLICE (5 min)

In the final movement of Gene Splicing, the percussionists were instructed to break the objects and then sweep up the debris using amplified brooms. This final act takes their individual DNA and traits and combines it all into one pool (or pile).

Objects created for INSTRUCTION SCORES