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Pithos (one possible story of our lively material), 2019

Tentacular Resonances

Glass, copper, speaker wire, sonoporation device (custom-built speaker, audio)

Pithos ConsTrained

Live genetically modified E. coli, glass, latex, rubber bung, copper wire

Lively Material

Single channel video, 17:35

Zone of Inhibition

Single channel video, 14:13


Terracotta, synthetic DNA, 8-channel audio

Pithos (one possible story of our lively material) brings together two evolving strands of Mackenzie’s research: the cultural modification of life and the use of sound as a means to relate to that which cannot be seen.

Working for three years in the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University, Mackenzie’s close and detailed practice performed the genetic modification of single-celled organisms in an attempt to understand this process from a non-scientific perspective. Beginning with the question, ‘What will happen if I store this thought safe within you?’ the research follows a thought from the mind of the artist into the body of a genetically modified organism, the laboratory workhorse, E. coli.


The work includes Lively Material: a video diary of the artist’s laboratory practice and a series of research works documenting the generation of what Mackenzie calls BioAssemblages - hybrids of cultural and biological material - synthetic DNA designed by the artist to hold the phrase, ‘What will happen if I store this thought safe within you?’ and E. coli genetically modified to store the phrase encoded as DNA within their bodies; Pithos: an 8-channel sound installation that speculates on potential mutations of the phrase within the constantly multiplying community of living organisms; Zone of Inhibition: a film developed as a result of Mackenzie’s public genetic modification workshops that speculate on our relationship with unseen yet constantly evolving lively material; and in Sciennes 1, Mackenzie presents two developing works together for the first time in a performative participatory installation that allows visitors to the gallery to experience the possibility of genetic modification through sound.


Through her ongoing workshop series, Tentacular Resonances, Mackenzie explores our bodily relation to cellular matter through collecting sounds which are then used as a means to explore how DNA moves between species.

Pithos ConsTrained 2019.jpg
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