Inside The Helix
In September 2019, an innovative new touring art installation I:DNA was launched, bringing fresh perspectives on the lived experience of families and individuals affected by genetically-inherited conditions, and their reactions to genomic medicine. An accessible and exciting installation, I:DNA is an installation suitable for all ages but most relevant to those age 12+.
This innovative project is created directly from research data, undertaken by Prof Felicity Boardman (Warwick Medical School) and funded by the Wellcome Trust. The project has been brought to life through a collaboration with STAMP Theatre and Media Productions CIC and Entify. I:DNA launched at the British Science Festival in September 2019 and since then has toured venues in Coventry, Oxford and Birmingham.
I:DNA at Coventry Cathedral, November 2019
In 2020, I:DNA went online due to COVID-19 restrictions, please see I:DNAOnline here.
I:DNA is due to complete its tour at the art gallery, Leamington Spa Pump Rooms, in 2021.
What Our Visitors Say.....
"I never thought I would be so touched and impressed with an exhibition quite like this one. I am incredibly thankful for having seen it."
"It's so important to give a platform to the voices that never get heard- and even better when presented in a creative way!"
"It's allowed me to look at something from a new perspective that I didn't actually think was relevant to me"
"haunting and beautiful- really hooks you in"
Professor Anna Middleton, head of the Wellcome Genome Campus Society and Ethics Research Group commented,
"We are so proud to support the I:DNA project; it showcases the synergy between medicine, social science and art can bring new perspectives to discussing genomics. It encourages us to reflect on where we are going with the application of genetic technology and helps us to reflect on our personal position in relation to this. I would recommend everyone working in genomics takes stock to listen to the voices of those with inherited disease"
I:DNA at Coventry Cathedral, November 2019
Upcoming Tour Dates
You can come and immerse yourself in the stories and voices of I:DNA at the following dates and venues (click links for further visiting information).
Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, Spring 2021 ( exact dates TBC)
Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Summer 2021 (exact dates TBC)
Past Tour Dates
I:DNA has already visited....
ESRC Festival of Social Science 2020, November 2020
Millennium Point, Birmingham (18th February- 3rd March 2020)
ESRC Festival of Social Science 2019 Coventry Cathedral, Priory Street, Coventry 2nd-7th November 2019
British Science Festival Coventry(12th-13th September 2019)
Oxford Science and Ideas Festival (26th-27th October 2019)
If you have missed us, or can't make our up-coming tour dates, you can keep up to date with I:DNA by looking us up on social media (@_i_dna) or using the hashtag #IDNA. If you would like to contact us to contribute your unique story or views on genetics, please send them to the I:DNA team I dot DNA at warwick dot ac dot uk. Alternatively, it may be possible to arrange a one-to-one interview with one of the project researchers.
The statistics tell us that the average person is a carrier of at least one inherited genetic condition, yet many people are unaware of this, and the implications of genetic conditions for the health and wellbeing of families affected. Professor Felicity Boardman undertook extensive interviews with families affected by the most common inherited genetic conditions including Cystic Fibrosis, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Fragile X Syndrome, Thalassemia and Haemophilia. Click on the links to watch some of our interview participants discussing life with their condition.
The creative team behind I:DNA worked together with Felicity and the interview transcripts to produce a multi-faceted experience using a sung and spoken soundscape, filmed imagery and a large sculpture reminiscent of a DNA helix. The setting for the installation is analogous to an airport departure lounge, as audiences prepare for a journey of sorts – but in this instance the destination may not be what they had expected. Audiences will progress through a security arch, past screens showing stories of real experiences, towards the sculpture which evokes ‘unravelling DNA’ adorned with luggage, reflecting the genetic baggage of our own inheritance. Audiences are encouraged to reflect on the experiences of others and share their own responses via social media, using the hashtag #IDNA
Prof Felicity Boardman says,
“This project brings science and arts together in an innovative and engaging way, encouraging us to reflect on the consequences of genomic medicine as it becomes part of NHS care. Through the use of audio soundscape and visuals, the project quite literally gives voice to people’s views and experiences of genomic medicine that might otherwise not be heard. Through the stories of others, I:DNA invites us to reflect on ourselves, and question how far we would be willing to delve into our own ‘genetic luggage’, whilst considering what this might mean for our future lives, identities, health, relationships as well as the societies in which we live.”
As well as the touring installation, a short documentary film revealing the fascinating approach to the process of making the work will be available to share online through social media. STAMP Artistic Director Claudette Bryanston says,
“STAMP has a unique approach to each project and the process by which we arrived at the finished installation is a hugely important part of I:DNA. This collaboration between the creative arts, science and social science shines a light on how we all view health and encourages everyone to have a conversation about disability and life choices”.
I:DNA and 'Invisible Theatre'
At Millennium Point we were privileged to be offer our visitors a chance to interact with some live 'invisible theatre'. Applied theatre students from nearby BCU under the direction of Peter Wynne-Wilson, worked with the research data and literally embodied the people whose stories they were telling, challenging visitors to see the human being behind the words.
You can read one student's experience of performing this type of theatre here.
iDNAKnowing: Transforming I:DNA into an interactive experience
Picking up the themes of I:DNA, iDNAKnowing is an online interactive storytelling experience that compliments the I:DNA Installation and enables those who are unable to visit the installation in person to engage with the intersection of genetics, choice, knowledge and personal values.
iDNAKnowing takes you on a journey to explore whether knowledge really is power. You can try iDNAKnowing yourself by clicking here.
How To Contact Us
To contact the I:DNA team, please email: I.DNA@warwick.ac.uk
For information about the research and the research team, please click here.