How do you truly capture the essence of an individual on canvas? A rhetorical question up until recently; Canadian based company DNA 11 may have finally found the answer. Started in 2005 by Adrian Salamunovic and Nazim Ahmed, the art company creates an enlarged, framed copy of your DNA using the scientific process of gel electrophoresis.
Gel electrophoresis is a process used to study genetic material by separating fragmented DNA based on their size and charge. It’s a simple concept really. DNA 11 sends you a “kit” which contains a swab that allows you to take a cheek cell swab and send the sample back to them in an efficient way. From there on the process is exactly the same as in a genetics research lab. A sample of your pure DNA is extracted from your cheek cells and mixed with a chemical called loading buffer. While the extraction process occurs, a gel is made. There are a number of different gels that can be used in electrophoresis such as a polyacrylamide or an agarose gel. The gel has pores in it (different in size depending on the type of gel used). At one end of the gel, there is a line of miniscule wells into which the mixture of DNA and loading buffer is added. The gel is placed in a bath of running buffer that allows the conductance of electricity. The purpose of the loading buffer is to render the DNA denser than the running buffer once the sample has been loaded into the wells to prevent the sample running free.
Finally an electric current is passed through the gel to create an electric field around the gel such that one end of it is positively charged and the other negatively charged. The electric current pushes the genetic material through the pores in the gel with the smaller fragments migrating more easily than the larger ones and therefore moving further down the length of the gel than the larger ones. Once complete, the DNA is then stained with Ethidium Bromide to make it visible under ultraviolet light. Once removed from the running buffer, the gel with the run DNA is exposed to ultraviolet light creating a band pattern. The band pattern is simply the different size fragments of your DNA that have migrated to different lengths along the gel.
An image of this banding pattern is then taken and then dyed in a colour of your choice and framed should you wish so and sent to you. What you get will look like the image behind this article.
DNA 11’s tagline for its DNA portraits is “There is only One Original” which is true given that your genetic material is unique to each individual. But do you want a photograph of your genetic material on your bedroom wall?