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An art-science collaboration to produce the first piece of music recorded onto DNA molecules.
An art-science collaboration to produce the first piece of music recorded onto DNA molecules.
215 backers pledged £9,279 to help bring this project to life.

About

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£9,279

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Wow! One very generous backer has decided to take up Charlotte’s offer of creating a bespoke, on-site DNA/ink installation and given our funding an amazing boost!

The costs of our upcoming Dilston Grove show are multiplying as are the foreseeable costs of further exhibitions and we are extremely grateful to be able to cover these thanks to this pledge.

So, a a big, big thank you to OPM Recruitment for their invaluable support!

NEW STRETCH GOAL OF £10,000!

The response to the project has been so encouraging that we’ve decided to add a stretch goal: the creation of a catalogue documenting the project and the exhibitions. Under the artistic direction of Charlotte Jarvis, the catalogue will feature some of the redacted correspondence from the exhibition, photographs, insights into the implications of DNA data storage technology and more.

Everyone who has helped fund Music of the Spheres will receive a catalogue if we reach our new goal!


BREAKING NEWS!

Thanks to the enthusiastic support of our many backers, we managed to beat our initial funding goal! So to all our supporters, a heartfelt thank you from the Music of the Spheres team!

The first piece of news we’d like to share is that our exhibition at Dilston Grove is confirmed! It will open on 13 June 2015. We welcome you to come down and experience the installation for yourselves within this stunning venue. All details can be found here.

PLUS we have some new rewards! A small group meet & greet and guided tour with the artist at Dilston Grove and high-quality photographic prints of the EBI server rooms.

Many thanks to everyone and keep watching this space for further news!



CONCEPT

Music of the Spheres is a cross-disciplinary art project inspired by the possibilities of the new bioinformatics technology developed by Dr. Nick Goldman. Visual artist Charlotte Jarvis commissioned music from the Kreutzer Quartet, the recording of which has been encoded into DNA. The DNA was then suspended in soap solution and will be used by Charlotte to create performances and installations filled with bubbles. The ‘recording’ will fill the air, pop on visitors’ skin and literally bathe the audience in music.

HOW THE PROJECT CAME ABOUT

Nick was having a post-work pint with some colleagues and discussing the problems of storing huge amounts of experimental data for long periods. The conversation went something like this:


“What we need”, he said, ”is a medium that encodes information, can last for thousands of years, and will never become technologically redundant… Hold on a minute” - (we like to imagine that Nick’s eyes glaze over at this point) - “This already exists!”

Nick and his colleagues went on to develop a method of storing digital information in synthetic DNA molecules. Nick’s method mimics how computers store information digitally in binary but swaps 0s and 1s for the ‘base chemicals’ (A, C, T and G) that form DNA sequences. 

(For the curious and the brave: learn more about encoding and decoding DNA here and extracting DNA here.)

Meanwhile, in a bath on the Suffolk border, artist Charlotte Jarvis was having her own ‘eureka moment’, reading an email from Dr Nick Goldman (introduced above, but who she was yet to meet). Charlotte had been exhibiting a project where she encoded basic sentences in the DNA of bacteria. Nick had seen this, so he was writing to her about his own new technology.

And thus unlikely collaborations are born…

Charlotte with DNA
Charlotte with DNA

Meanwhile, Charlotte had enlisted the help of Artists & Engineers, a small and highly talented production outfit who happen to specialise in interdisciplinary projects across the arts and technology! Everything was falling into place.

Nick and Charlotte went on to develop the project Music of the Spheres in which a new musical composition is recorded to MP3 and stored on synthetic DNA molecules.

COMPOSING THE MUSIC - INTRODUCING THE KREUTZER QUARTET

In the poem Music of the Spheres Byron describes a universal melody underpinning all existence. Nick and Charlotte saw parity between this and the concept of DNA being a universal code underscoring all of life, so wanted to make music a part of the project.

In a rather audacious move, Charlotte invited the critically acclaimed Kreutzer Quartet round for dinner in order to explain the project. One of the most sought-after string quartets in the UK, the Kreutzers are known for their eclectic programme, numerous recordings, regular appearances at major venues around the world and (most importantly) their willingness to collaborate on more ‘unconventional’ projects.

To everyone’s delight the Kreutzer Quartet accepted both the invitation to dinner and to become part of the project. 

A few months later, the Kreutzers wrote a specifically commissioned new composition. This loosely follows the traditional form of a concerto, comprising three musical movements. The second movement only exists in the form of a recording encoded into DNA.

BUT WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH BUBBLES?

Our goal is to create installations and performances in which the DNA will be suspended in soap solution and used to create silent spaces filled with bubbles. Just as music fills the air, so will the bubbles – popping on visitors' skin and literally bathing them in music. The bubbles will be accompanied by a video projection showing the musicians playing in the server room of the European Bioinformatics Institute (where Nick has done his research).

In these performances the Kreutzer Quartet will play the composition, falling silent during the second movement. The omitted music will be released into the auditorium in the form of bubbles. The performances will be accompanied by a film projection and a discussion about the project.

WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP

Thanks to some incredible sponsorship from Agilent Technologies, we have so far been able to commission the piece and have the second movement recorded onto synthetic DNA molecules. But what we really want to do is share it with people!

The money raised from this Kickstarter (if the funding goal is achieved) will go towards putting on live performances, installations and workshops around the UK. It will also go towards making a series of objects to get our musical DNA out there in the wider world. We want to take the project out of the lab and studio and share it with the public.

SO EXACTLY WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO WITH THE MONEY?

We would like to put on three very different installations. The first will be at the incredible Dilston Grove in Southwark Park - a Grade II Listed building providing a cavernous raw space for large-scale installations and performance. The second is at The Lookout – a gallery situated directly on the beach in Aldeburgh with a small tower perfect for pumping bubbles out of to drift along the shoreline. The final installation will be at the European Bioinformatics Institute, allowing us to take the project ‘home’ and show it to the scientific community. 

In addition to the installations we would like to stage a series of live performances with the Kreutzer Quartet at Dilston Grove, the European Bioinformatics Institute and additionally Wilton’s Music Hall.

Dilston Grove
Dilston Grove
The Lookout at Aldeburgh Beach
The Lookout at Aldeburgh Beach

The objects we plan to make to reward our wonderful patrons are another way of getting the project out there. As rewards we’ll be creating specially designed bottles of bubbles including the musical DNA and also producing ‘DNA paintings’ made by adding ink to the DNA bubble solution.

DNA bubble solution
DNA bubble solution
Original artwork by Charlotte Jarvis
Original artwork by Charlotte Jarvis
The server rooms at the EBI
The server rooms at the EBI

Risks and challenges

We believe there are very few risks and challenges involved since we have already created the piece.

The amazing Kreutzer Quartet have composed the music and the installation with its machinery has been tried and tested at our first small exhibition. We are now poised to bring the installation and musical performances to a wider audience, adding an educational component to the exhibition with workshops for children and university students.

With your help we could make it happen.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About $1.31

    Your name will feature on the exhibition website, with our heartfelt THANKS!

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    Pledge £5 or more About $7

    Your name on our website plus an invitation to a private viewing.

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    Pledge £20 or more About $26

    Your name on our website plus a bottle of bubble solution with wand containing the music-encoded DNA.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £25 or more About $33

    A photographic print of the EBI server rooms in a signed and limited edition of 20, unframed (approx. A3).

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £50 or more About $65

    A signed and numbered original painting by Charlotte Jarvis made by blowing DNA-filled ink bubbles onto paper.

    UNFRAMED
    SMALL FORMAT

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £50 or more About $65

    The first ten backers to pledge this amount will take part in an exclusive small group tour of the exhibition hosted by Charlotte herself. This will be an excellent opportunity to ask the artist about her work and the project.

    PLUS: A bottle of the DNA bubble solution!

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £50 or more About $65

    A photographic print of the EBI server rooms in a signed and limited edition of 5, framed (approx. A3).

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £75 or more About $98

    A signed and numbered original painting by Charlotte Jarvis made by blowing DNA-filled ink bubbles onto paper.

    UNFRAMED
    LARGE FORMAT

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $131

    A specially commissioned engraved glass bottle with wand containing the DNA bubble solution.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £200 or more About $261

    A signed and numbered original painting by Charlotte Jarvis made by blowing DNA-filled ink bubbles onto paper.

    FRAMED
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    Pledge £400 or more About $523

    A signed and numbered original painting by Charlotte Jarvis made by blowing DNA-filled ink bubbles onto paper.

    FRAMED
    LARGE FORMAT

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    Pledge £2,500 or more About $3,268

    You'll not only be supporting our project in a major way but also investing in a significant piece of art:

    Like the individual DNA paintings but on an epic scale: artist Charlotte Jarvis will come to your home (only UK or Europe we are afraid, unless you want to fund a long distance air fare) and hand-blow a whole wall of DNA ink bubbles to create a one-off Music of the Spheres permanent installation.

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge £5,000 or more About $6,537

    What can we say? In one fell swoop you will have made it all possible, allowing us to share the project with as many people as possible in all its fascinating forms: the science, the music and the visual beauty of the bubbles.

    This level of faith and commitment needs to be adequately rewarded: we will offer you dinner for two with the creators, Nick and Charlotte, accompanied by a live performance of the Music of the Spheres by the Kreutzer Quartet (again, we can only deliver this reward to the UK or Europe, unless you are willing to fund air fare).

    Delivery date to be arranged with the funder.

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Funding period

- (30 days)