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Arts-science collaboration Helix launched at the London Science Festival

  • Date: 25 October 2013
  • Area: South East
An illustration by Daniel Lockefrom the Helix project

An image from the Helix project by Adam Rutherford, David Blandy & Daniel Locke. Credit: Illustration: Daniel Locke

The London Science Festival is the stage for the launch of a fantastic new project - Helix - commissioned by Lighthouse, an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation.

Sixty years on from the discovery of how DNA is structured, Helix draws on this fascinating tale as its central theme. It explores the story of DNA from the perspective of a 500 year old man who has been kept alive through genetic therapy. Spanning 40,000 years, it progresses from ancient chimera through to spider goats and also looks into the speculated future of human beings.

The piece, which is being shown at GV Art Gallery using interactive touch screen technology, brings together drawings, sketches and storyboards that illustrate DNA's evolution - drawing the audience in and enveloping them in the evolving understanding of life's building blocks.

The work has been created by Adam Rutherford, geneticist, broadcaster and author of Creation: The Origin of Life / The Future of Life; digital artist David Blandy and illustrator Daniel Locke. It is a product of a residency at Lighthouse during which they explored how arts and science could create an accessible way for contemporary audiences to engage with the story of DNA.

Adam Rutherford explains: 'Helix is a narrative that reflects humankind's eternal obsession with the acquisition of non-human traits. These are present in all cultures from the very earliest figurative art. But in the 20th century, in the era of DNA and molecular biology, the expression of this interest became a reality with the advent of genetic engineering and now synthetic biology.'

David Blandy continues: 'As a collaboration, we were interested in exploring the relationship between nature, culture and the future of life so it seemed fitting that we created it using hand-drawn images and placing them in digital space. That digital technology has allowed us to combine graphic novel and animation techniques in an interactive way, enhancing the impact of the story to an extent that would be difficult to achieve by any other means.'

Cate Canniffe, Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: 'This is a fascinating project that merges digital techniques, the arts and science to create something that is highly unusual but engaging. It will provide audiences with a unique opportunity to take an interactive and artistic journey through our genetic development. It is very exciting to see this kind of collaboration and we hope it will inspire others to continue pushing the boundaries of artistic exploration.'

The exhibition runs from 24-30 October 2013 at the GV Art Gallery

For further information about Lighthouse, please visit:

For more information about Helix, please visit:

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