For his artwork commission, Sutherland, in collaboration with a synthetic biologist, has created an altered genome file for the common weed Arabidopsis Thaliana. The new genome has an altered pigment in daylight and a fluorescing pigment under certain light conditions. The file has a limit to the number of downloads on Opening Times’ website before it will be dependent on peer sharing and seeding through the BitTorrent sharing community. The artwork exists as an ‘ApE’ file, a format produced using a freeware genetic editor often used by biological engineers and genetic hackers. However, the consumer tools to actualise and produce genetic code as living matter does not yet exist and therefore the file sits in anticipation of a future technology to activate it.
(Note: BitTorrent is a protocol supporting the practice of peer-to-peer file sharing that is used to distribute large amounts of data over the Internet. To download the files a BitTorrent client such as uTorrent is required).
For an interview with the artist about his commission, please click here.