Mapping the Coronavirus Genome

The SARS-Cov-2 pandemic, raging as I write this in May 2020, has profoundly threatened the structures by which we live. It is not only its threat to our physical selves, but also to the social, cultural, economic and political structures which comprise our society. Few aspects of our lives will emerge unaltered from this pandemic.

This virus is an expression of an elemental force, not unlike the ambient radiation fields underlying the Moment and Chaos projects presented elsewhere on this site. Both are imperceptible in everyday life; both can be determinant when they make their presence known.

So, I wanted to see the Coronavirus and the most direct way was to go to its substance, its genome, an RNA sequence of about 29,800 proteins. It seemed important to concretize it through its visual expression, but not in the style of scientific illustration. I wanted to see how it might be expressed both to make it more real, but at the same time to present it as a challenge to our mechanisms of perception.

The genome, as sampled by many organizations around the world, is readily available on the National Institutes of Health website. But no two samples are identical: small differences are always scattered among the common features. This, and the fact that the genome length is similar to that of a day’s samples of the ambient radiation fields that I am using in the Chaos Project images, seemed to present a propitious opportunity. While the Chaos Project concerns undifferentiated fields of elemental randomness, the Coronavirus genome might offer a means to explore differentiated fields of a complex but highly consistent organization.

All images exist primarily as ink jet prints. Some are on glossy paper, others on luster finishes. Sizes are variable.

This project is continuing and updates will be regularly posted to this page.

Small differences

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