Genetics Matters special Black Box reel

23 Feb
2pm – 5pm

Total Running Time: 71min

What do advances in genetics mean for the future of humanity and other species? What do we mean by biotechnology? What do we mean by life? How has technology changed our sense of identity? Is kinship more than family?

Some films contain scenes that some viewers may find uncomfortable. Whilst there is no age specific content guidance, and viewing of all films is at the discretion of parents, we have deemed content suitable for age 12+.


The Signal and the Noise (2017)
Charlie Tweed and Dr Darren Logan

Voiced by an anonymous group of ‘hybrid’ machines from the near future, The Signal and the Noise takes us through advances in genetic technologies such as DNA sequencing, optogenetics and CRISPR gene editing, to propose a future vision of hybrid computing devices that are used to monitor and repair living things. Whilst the film appears to be science fiction, all of the technologies and ideas discussed in it are based on actual advances and visions of the future. The work questions the limits of human desire for control and technological progression: what is the future of the ‘human machine’ and what are the ethics of fixing the code? The Signal and the Noise was produced as part of Silent Signal and is a Wellcome, Garfield Weston and Animate Projects collaboration.


The Genetics Revolution (2016)
Jason Silva

In this condensed ‘TV-bite’ philosophy film, media artist, futurist and philosopher, Jason Silva proposes that if genetics is code, our new canvas is life itself.


Squid Coming to Life (2017)
Nipam Patel

Produced by the evolutionary and developmental biologist Nipam Patel in his laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, Squid: Coming to Life is a hypnotic short film that follows the process of life from its most basic materials to complex living organisms, in this case squid and cuttlefish. With music composed by Kirsten Dutton and entrancing microscopy footage, the short video shows the cephalopods transforming from embryos (developing in their egg capsules) to hatchlings that emerge with the resplendent, colour-shifting skin they use for communication and camouflage.


Lively Material (2018)
Louise Mackenzie, CNoS

Lively Material is a video diary of artist Louise Mackenzie’s research within the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University. The film follows a thought from the mind of the artist into the body of a genetically modified organism, the laboratory workhorse: E. coli. The thought is translated from a spoken phrase, voiced by the artist, into a code that becomes represented as physical material: synthetic DNA, stored within the body of a living organism. The lively material of the organism becomes both container and commodity in the context of the laboratory, used to store and generate DNA. Through a diary-based narrative, Mackenzie explores how her relationship to this lively material alters when DNA is stored within the organism in a cultural, rather than scientific context.


The Unsolved Case (2012)
Marianne Wilde

This short film employs medical technology as point of reference to the mysteries of medical science, where identity can help lead to diagnosis. MRI scans form the basis to explore, through contemporary arts practice, the visualisation of disease and to examine how and what we ‘see’ when looking at these medical images. The film takes its name, The Unsolved Case (Der ungelöste Fall), from a panel of medical experts who use diagnostic tools and patient case histories to attempt to find a diagnosis for as yet ‘unsolved’ medical cases.


HeLa (2014 (edited excerpts from original one-hour performance))
Adura Onashile

Excerpts from Adura Onashile’s mesmerising one-hour performance HeLa, at BALTIC CCA in 2015. Based on Rebecca Skloot’s novel, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, HeLa recounts the enduring life of the young black mother, Henrietta Lacks, who died in 1951 of cervical cancer. Lacks’ cells, originally taken without her consent, are still grown and used for research in labs all over the world today. Onashile’s performance asks us to question whether we can separate our genetic identity from our emotional and spiritual heritage.


Binky (2015)
Claudia Sacher

In this short film, we experience art as therapy, a means to heal and form bonds of kinship. Claudia Sacher is a visual artist working in the areas of drawing, sculpture, video and installation and a volunteer lead artist for Art for the Brain, a brain injury and dementia friendly art workshop for dementia/alzheimers, brain injury and stroke patients, and their friends, family and carers.


Hazel (2015)
Jacqueline Donachie

In this poignant award-winning film, we are introduced to the siblings of individuals with Mytonic Dystrophy, a rare genetic condition. Donachie asks: When is familial resemblance overtaken by another layer of inheritance that, like long legs or short tempers, also comes from your parents? In Hazel we see kinship that leads to assumptions about health, ability and competence made both by ‘the outside world’ and within family dynamics. The interviews for the artwork Hazel recognise the importance of considering the private, domestic experience of an inherited genetic condition by asking women to speak frankly about their own lives.


The Ray Cat Solution (2015)
Benjamin Huguet

The Ray Cat Solution explores the possibility of using genetic technology in the creation of a ‘future myth’. This short film engages with a theory initially proposed in the 1980s by Philosophers Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri as part of the Human Interference Task Force, employed by the US Department of Energy to tackle the issue of how to warn future humans of radioactive waste sites.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *