About this project
Hello! My name is Eli Skipp, and I am asking for your support to get particular parts of my big brother's RNA sequenced.
About two weeks ago I finished the first half of a larger piece titled Bufo marinus. In the first half I wove the 16S, 12S, and valine tRNA sequences from a cane toad, with each base (adenine, guanine, cytocine, and thymine) being represented by a particular color of thread or yarn (red, green, blue, and yellow). This first piece utilized free data discovered via Jennifer B. Pramuk's Bufo phylogeny and GenBank, and thus did not require support or funding.
The second half, which I expect to take about the same amount of time and materials, will be displayed side by side with the first and will display the same sequences, but from my brother, Henry, instead of from a cane toad.
When we were kids, my brother was obsessed with Bufo toads. I think we probably still have some of the taxidermied subspecies from South America laying around our house in Miami -- he was frequently given them as gifts. He'd catch the cane toads all the time after it would rain, even though they would always pee all over his hands. He would also hop around our house like a toad and for a while that was his main mode of transportation (he was around seven at the time). His nickname for as long as I can remember has been "The Toad."
So both halves of this are in fact about my brother. In a deeper sense they represent a recent struggle in his and my family’s life and the patience, tedium, labor, love, and time that went into getting past this struggle, but I don’t feel comfortable divulging the exact details of the more personal parts of this piece via Kickstarter. Suffice it to say that the mirrored weavings represent two halves of my brother’s life, and that I promise I have critically valid reasons for building both parts.
There is a good chance that you are not swayed by my personal stories, but I'm hoping you will find the completion of this piece worthwhile for another reason, be that its aesthetic or technical merits, or because it speaks to your own interests. Even if you're not into the personal part, it's still a pretty cool way to represent scientific data, right? Right?
What your money is for:
My end goal is $700, and will pay for a lab (ACGT Inc., whom I found through the wonderfully incredible site Science Exchange) to give me the library of Henry's 16S, 12S, and valine tRNA sequences. This covers the sequencing itself, the cheek swab kit, and the extraction of genomic data from said cheek swab -- as well as the 10% worth of fees charged between Kickstarter and Amazon. I am more than happy to cover the cost of yarn and thread, wood, glue, and other materials that the physical piece is built upon, and to give the 30+ hours it will take to complete this beast. I just need the RNA sequences, and that's where you come in.
If I exceed my goal:
In the event that I exceed my goal the extra funds will go towards building everyone's rewards (which in the event of no extra funds, will be paid for out of pocket) and towards building future projects -- this spring I'm building stuffed animal versions of modern weaponry, for example, and batting ain't cheap. They could possibly also go towards further research into this body of work -- who knows, I might build more of these! I'm open to suggestions.
Thank you for reading my description and thinking about my project for a little while. If you're picking up what I'm putting down, please consider supporting my project. Even a couple of bucks would make me the most grateful girl in the world, and in case my undying gratitude isn't enough, you will receive awesome rewards in return! If you're strapped for cash, but still think this piece is worthwhile, maybe you'd do me the honor of spreading the word and/or offering me a critique. Let me know what you like, and what I could stand to improve on, and if there's any questions I'll do my best to answer them tout suite. Art is all about collaboration and participation, and yours would mean the world to me.
Thanks also to everyone who helped me edit this Kickstarter, and to Shipwrek, who wrote the lovely song in the background of my video.
Interesting details about this project that you might like:
The colors chosen to represent each base were chosen because they are frequently used to represent DNA (although sometimes yellow is replaced with black). The 16S, 12S, and valine tRNA sequences were chosen for Bufo marinus (and thus my brother) because these were the sequences used by Jennifer B. Pramuk to determine the place of Bufo marinus in her Bufo toad phylogeny paper. These sequences are used in translation, and were ultimately translated, which is a neat thing. The decision to do simple lines rather than a more complicated weaving was inspired by the often very linear textiles traditional to the Miccosukee Indians in the Everglades of South Florida. The positions of the frames on the wall of the gallery was chosen because it reflected the way GenBank graphs RNA.
Risks and challenges
Luckily I feel that many of the risks and challenges this piece presented were dealt with in the first half of this piece -- issues like time, materials, and learning to build and weave looms, for instance. My current challenge is simply funding, which is why I turn to you. As a broke graduate school student, $700 is a steep price to pay, even to make an important (to me) piece of fibers/textile artwork. I know without a doubt that I can complete this piece if I can procure the RNA sequences, that I know where and how and through whom to get them, and that I can complete it on time to also build all of the rewards I've offered up and get them to everyone on time. Hell, if I beat my goal I'll even put this whole thing on turbo and see if I can finish it in a week, so you guys will get nigh-immediate gratification. The faster this is funded the faster it's finished, and the faster I can get working on your rewards -- maybe in time for Christmas? Come on guys, let's do this!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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