Sally Ryan Graver "Cellfie" Installation

Our True "Cellfie" - DNA Lab Installation

Our True "Cellfie"

Interactive DIY Mini Lab  and "Cellfie Video" Installation

Our DNA contains the blueprint of life, unique to each person.  It determines how we develop and grow and how we will eventually start to fall apart and die.  It also contains invisible records of our ancestors from whom we get our genetic inheritance . Our DNA it could be said if photographed would be a true unique “Cellfie”

The Installation is set up as an interactive  Mini Lab to allow viewers to capture  a true unique "Cellfie".

The “Cellfie” video shows my DNA from cheek cells extracted following  a DIY/DNA protocol found on YouTube.  DNA is only about 50 trillionths of an inch long. The reason it can be seen in this DIY activity , is because of the  releasing of clumps of DNA cells. This happens when the detergent or dishwashing liquid breaks, or lyses, the membranes around the cell and around the nucleus. Once released, the DNA from the broken open cells intertwines with DNA released from other cells. Eventually, enough DNA intertwines to become visible to the eye as whitish strands. One strand of DNA is so thin (.0000002mm) you would never be able to see it without using a special microscope.  (source Youtube).

Through research on DNA,  fuelled by an interest in genealogy and my family tree, I came across the work of  Rosalind Franklin, one of the first people to photograph using  X-ray crystallography, that  the DNA Structure  was a Double Helix.  This photo, (Photo 51) was used (unknown to her) by Watson and Crick  to find the missing pieces  to construct their famous Double Helix structure in 1953, and win the Nobel Prize.   It was not until recently that the vital role played by Rosalind Franklin in this discovery was acknowledged and recently a   Mars Rover has just been named in her honor.

To find out about the DNA construction I went to Maynooth College and sat in on a lecture on DNA double helix construction. I also got the opportunity to visit the Lab and see real stem cells through a microscope.  This prompted me to get a microscope, which has since led to me discovering new invisible worlds. (copy of photo 51 0n Lab Table).

Contained within our DNA are four letters or bases, the codes of life:- . A, T, G & C. (Adenine, Thymine, Guanine & Cytosine). These make up the Base Pairs of which there are 3 billion in 1 Meter long stretch of DNA,  in every cell in our bodies, packed in 23 distinct chromosome pairs.  If you stretched out your DNA it would reach the Sun and back 67 to 333 times.

DNA has now become a commodity so to remind the viewer of what is in our spit I placed Pipettes with photos of my ancestors  displayed on the Lab table. 

“Cellfie”  Video Instillation and Mini Lab 

 Exhibition Back Loft 2015