Homage to the Genome

I’ve had it on my mind to work with schematic color. That is color devoid of direct association to materials; operating purely in relationship to other colors.

Being a huge admirer of Josef Albers’ Homage to the Square series, I decided to employ the genome deconstructed to its four component nucleotides to do exactly that. Moreover, I was grateful for the opportunity this project afforded to look really closely at the various strategies Albers employed in creating resonances between his chosen color fields.

Here, each of the four components constituting the RNA strand are massed together and assigned a color. Due to their relative frequency in the Covid genome, they are, from inner to outer: cytosine (C), guanine (G), adenine (A) and uracil (U). As each variant differs by only a tiny percentage from the reference genome (around .16%), the variation between the resulting geometries is small. Nonetheless, this infinitesimal factor of ~0.0015 is the source of significant differences in the virus’ behavior. I believe the subtle compositional differences are also significant to the works’ reception.

All the named variants to date (June 2022) are treated here. The left image employs colors taken directly from an Albers’ Homage. The right image is my color selection, often operating in direct dialog with Albers’ strategy. The background color is that of the original (all selected employ a background canvas preparation or an area of unprinted paper). 

The project continues with alternate color treatments of the individual genomes. While only the paired images are shown here, the works are variously printed as single images on 13” x 19” sheets and paired images on 17” x 25” sheets.

Reference Genome

Alpha Variant

Beta Variant

Gamma Variant

Delta Variant

Epsilon Variant

Zeta Variant

Eta Variant

Theta Variant

Iota Variant

Kappa Variant

Lambda Variant

Mu Variant

Omicron Variant

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