Scientific vitrines, mirror, 8-channel audio, custom neural network DNA-to-speech synthesiser, synthetic DNA
"I am making with the materials of communication - cutting and splicing - DNA, metal, glass vitrines - I am planning the outcome, but it will be impossible to know the outcome fully - transforming one model of communication into another.
The -phage receives constructed texts and imparts a response by multiplying, replicating, evolving. The response will be generated through a process of translation: translation of text to code, to DNA and then to phonetic symbols, which will be released into the environment surrounding the phage, like a virus: spilling out, multiplying and changing. The -phage is a physical entity and an ephemeral one. It is comprised of metal, glass, code and the machinery of code, translating and replicating. Errors are to be expected."
-Phage is an ongoing experimental work that reflects upon the experience of working with biological data so small that it cannot be physically experienced. Working in the Institute of Genetic Medicine to generate synthetic DNA that can be translated into text (a thought conceived by the artist to be stored within the body of a laboratory bacteria), Mackenzie came to realise that her efforts to physically experience the material she was working with were clouded by layers of technology - microscopes and computer screens - lasers, metal, mirrors and wires. Mackenzie was drawn to the image of the bacteriophage, a virus that infects bacteria to impart its DNA within them, as a way to presence the text - and the complexities of communicating information on this scale.
-Phage has been presented at:
Genocentric, Summerhall, Edinburgh
Viral Experiments, Queen's Hall Arts Centre, Hexham
Synthetic DNA made in collaboration with Dr Steve Laval and Dr Ana Topf, Institute of Genetic Medicine. Custom neural network speech synthesiser made in collaboration with Étienne De Crécy, University of Edinburgh.