June 16, 2023
Helen Pynor’s new performance video work ‘93% Human’ opens next week at Curiocity Brisbane and will be installed on the façade of the Queensland Museum from 24.06. – 10.07.22.
‘93% Human’ explores the ‘promiscuity’ of DNA and the unbounded nature of the self through an investigation of DNA we exhale in our breath. ‘93% Human’ was commissioned by the World Science Festival Brisbane for Curiocity Brisbane, and was created during an ANAT (Australian Network for Art and Technology) funded residency at SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) over 2020-2021, where Pynor worked in the laboratory of genomics scientist and bioinformatician Dr Jimmy Breen.
In the video, Pynor and Breen use a scientific glassware condenser device, which converts gaseous breath into liquid, to capture a shared breath sample that pools as liquid at the device’s base, rendering what is normally imperceptible into visible form. DNA in Pynor and Breen’s combined exhaled breath sample is later extracted, sequenced, and the genomic data analysed in Breen’s laboratory. This revealed 93% human DNA, alongside DNA from a vast range of microbial species, highlighting the multi-species nature of being ‘human’ and the respiratory tract as a site for material exchange between self, human and non-human others, and world.
‘93% Human’ is accompanied by the light box work ‘Breathwork’. Pynor is currently developing new work informed by the genomic data generated in her collaborative research. Read more.
Image caption: Helen Pynor, ‘93% Human’, 2022, video, 10.20 min. This project was supported by ANAT (Australian Network for Art and Technology) and SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute). ‘93% Human’ was commissioned by World Science Festival Brisbane for Curiocity Brisbane 2022. Image courtesy of the artist.
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