Dreaming of CRISPR/Cas (2017)
Installation: Pedestal (alabaster), stonemasons’ tripod with a pillow, hammer, chisel. Sizes variable.

CRISPR/Cas9 is a technology that can be used to modify parts of a genome. This can be done by deleting or adding sections — down to the individual base — of a DNA sequence. It is by far the simplest, cheapest and most precise method of genetic manipulation. It was established by Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier and has since been supplemented by several other processes such as CRISPR/Cpf1, which allows bases to be edited independently of the original base pair, or CRISPR/Cas13a, which targets RNA.

The installation “Dreaming of CRISPR/Cas” mingles in between and outside the critique of ontological concepts of the natural sciences, as well as concepts that have been and are being superimposed on the natural sciences themselves. The arrangement of traditional sculpting tools, which are surrounded by their equals but detached from their usual context, as well as the influence of indexical materials, surfaces and writing, refers to capitalist-neoliberal concepts of transparency and progress, questions anthropocentrisms as well as idealizations and escapist gestures on the part of hegemonic actors in current media discourses. 

Recent events are reflected by the installation. Particularly two articles connecting CRISPR and cancer are uncovering that CRISPR is more likely to skip cells with a damaged p53-gene, which — when functioning — is relevant to the human body fighting cancer. [1][2]

[1] Haapaniemi, E., Botla, S., Persson, J., Schmierer, B. & Taipale, J. (2018). CRISPR–Cas9 genome editing induces a p53-mediated DNA damage response. Nature Medicine.
[2] Ihry, R.J., Worringer, K.A., Salick, M.R., Frias, E., Ho, D., Theriault, K. et al. (2018). p53 inhibits CRISPR–Cas9 engineering in human pluripotent stem cells. Nature Medicine.

Detail: Pedestal (Alabaster), Front polished, engraved; back eroded