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LATENT FIGURE PROTOCOL

Paul Vanouse, USA

Latent Figure Protocol (LFP) is an installation that uses DNA samples to create unique images, employing a reactive gel and electrical current. In the first LFP a copyright symbol is derived from the DNA of an industrially-produced organism (a bacterial plasmid called “pET-11a”), illuminating ethical questions around the changing status of organic life and the ownership of living organisms. The LFP imaging process relies on cutting DNA to the sizes needed to make the correct image. This is essentially doing molecular biology in reverse. Usually scientists use imaging techniques to determine an organism’s genetic sequence, whereas LFP utilises known sequences in online databases to produce “planned” images. A “DNA fingerprint” is often misunderstood to be a single, unique human identifier. However, there are hundreds of different enzymes, primers and molecular probes that can be used to segment DNA and produce banding patterns. These banding patterns that appear tell us as much about the enzyme/primer/probe as the subject that they appear to reproduce.

LATENT FIGURE PROTOCOL Interview
LATENT FIGURE PROTOCOL Photo: Alan Dimmick