Genomix Mask and Complex Web of Life

> Experimental Society


This exhibition deliberate on the interplaying between technologies, nature and humankind. Since the Anthropocene emerged, human reached to technology that can control major parts of geography and society were separated from nature. Mental model that we are not a part of natural things makes possibility to exploit them as commodities. After a capitalism was established, capital and its accumulation was a center of world-system. It was not just the economic relationships, but also the way of organizing nature and our daily life (Moore, 2016: 6).To put is simple, capital accumulation creates prosperity at expense of human (i.e. labor and small capitalist) as well as nature. Particularly, the latter case is really damaged by its own characteristics. First, it cannot express in term of ‘real’ price. To be sure, there is a market price of nature; however, it might not include real value of things. The value of them for other fabricated living things or even plants in this world. Second, nature had high tolerance. Alas! Its patient has limitation. Beyond some threshold, it might strike back. Global warming and other catastrophes are strong signals of this theme.Therefore, alternative voices are needed. Donna Haraway called for a making kin with nature (Haraway, 2015: 161). For her, bringing human back to be a part of nature are necessity but it surely is not a smooth pathway. We must face monstrous reactions during this becoming epoch – Chthulucene. Whether we agree or disagree with this proposal, the urgency of environmental crisis and alienated roles of human from nature are inevitable.

To illustrate connections between human-in-nature and nature-in-human, across these periodization : Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, and Chthulucene, we infuse many DNA from different organisms along side with human’s DNA to create the masks. The process of transforming DNA into art piece starting with using ClustalW2 DNA sequence alignment algorithm to compare nucleotides (A,T,C,G) from human DNA and DNA from other species. The similarity between two distinct DNA is used to generate a heat map visualization.We then stylize the visualization using deep learning style transfer algorithm (Gatys : 2015) to transfer the texture from the picture of the selected organisms on their DNA and vise versa.The deep learning network was pre-trained on VGG-16 model with 16-19 weight layers and 3×3 filters in all convolutional layers.The weight content / weight style is optimized to 8.5, 3.0 and the algorithm was performing 30 iterations. After the stylization, the visualization was used as visual elements for the artist to put to assemble the masks. This process is bio-inspired by the transcription process in living cells. On the philosophical level, our process depict our motivation to supersede ourselves into the masks that we create. On the other hand, like a mask, they superficially cover us. This contradiction is not a problem per se. Actually, incompatible between human and nature is really realistic and unavoidable.



IEEE VIS 2017 (guest)