molecular biology// music composition// sound art // computer science
Failure is at the heart of science. The kind of failure proper to scientific practices cannot be recuperated by narratives of resiliency and heroism, nor can it be domesticated by the aggressive entrepreneurial discourse of high risk, high reward.
We are recording stories of failure from scientists who study genetic molecules. We will turn these audio recordings into music and store the data as synthesized DNA. We will then subject the DNA to various manipulations. The altered DNA will be translated back into music.
This new piece of music will be music about failure that has failed.
Why failure in science? Because misunderstandings of failure in scientific practices affect the priorities of funding bodies and contribute to anti-science attitudes in the public sphere. The latter is an especially urgent issue during high-profile scientific initiatives that impact public health, such as coronavirus research.
Why DNA? Because popular understandings of the genome and epigenetics are driven by anxieties about predetermination, chance, and control, issues at the center of our fraught collective entanglement with failure.
Why music? Because the history of music--especially changing attitudes towards the musical score throughout the 20th century--provides the imaginative language for thinking through these issues of predetermination, chance, and control.
Are we actually storing music as DNA? YES. Totally.