University of Dundee

GenomeScroller travels to Singapore for Digital Arts Week International 2013

08 May 2013

Two researchers from the College of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee have been invited to showcase an installation that scrolls through all the letters that make up the human genome, at the Digital Arts Week International in Singapore.

GenomeScroller is the brainchild of Dr. Nick Schurch and Dr. Chris Cole of the new Division of Computational Biology at the College of Life Sciences. First exhibited at CLS the GenomeScroller is a highly visual, digital exhibit scrolling through the human genome, one letter at a time, and presenting the knowledge cloud surrounding those letters. Now the exhibit is scheduled to travel 10,000 miles to Singapore for the Digital Arts Week beginning on 9 May. GenomeScroller itself will run for nine days till 17 May 2013.

DAW International, based at the Computer Systems Institute at the ETH Zurich, was founded in 2005 by Professor Jürg Gutknecht, Arthur Clay, and Dr. Stefan Müller Arisona to drive interdisciplinary initiatives involving innovations in computer science.Its main aim is to the bridge between the arts and sciences through the application of digital technology. Consisting of symposia, workshops and cultural events, the DAW programme offers insight into current research and innovations in art and technology as well as illustrating resulting synergies, making artists aware of impulses in technology and scientists aware of the possibilities of application of technology in the arts.

Chris Cole said, “We are delighted to be exhibiting GenomeScroller at DAW - the interface of Science and Art collaborations. Life Sciences research in Dundee is a hugely interdisciplinary endeavour and GenomeScroller allows us to put the human genome – the basis of human identity within a wider cultural context through the medium of digital technology. The project also highlights two of the biggest research strengths of Dundee – data analysis and computational biology.”

Nick Schurch said, “The project shows the vastness of the human genome while at the same time gives an impression of how much or, in many cases, how little we know. 100 million letters (only 3%) of the genome will be presented at DAW; scrolling the entire genome would take more than nine months. On the 60th anniversary year of the discovery of the structure of DNA, GenomeScroller opens a window on what has been uncovered since the seminal work of Watson and Crick.”

Chris and Nick acknowledge the support from Professor Geoff Barton and the College for getting GenomeScroller to Singapore and to Dr Richard Bickerton for his help in rendering the protein structure videos.

Professor Barton added, “The project would not have been possible were it not for the scientific ethos of open access and sharing of data. All data used was obtained from publicly available sources.  Similarly, the Open Source Software ‘Processing’, and its community, made the creation of the GenomeScroller application possible.”

Follow @GenomeScroller on Twitter to see its progress through the genome during Digital Arts Week 2013.