Homage to the Genome / Homage to the Mutation

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'll leave it to the viewer to determine whether the subtle compositional differences are 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). I would hope that Albers, famed as a teacher, would appreciate this approach.

The "Mutations" images below constitute a separate related series in which each variant's specific mutations from the reference genome are mapped to a square. The colors used are the same as those in the "deconstructed" images.

The works are printed on 13" x 19" and 17” x 25” sheets. The smaller size is used to display a full series as a whole. The larger when they are displayed as individual images. 

Reference Genome (Wuhan, December 2019)

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 (BA.1)

Homage to the Mutation

The variants compared to the reference genome.

Top tow, left to right: Alpha, Beta, Gamma. Second row: Delta, Epsilon, Zeta. Third row: Eta, Theta, Iota. Third row: Kappa, Lambda, Mu. Bottom: Omicron (BA.1 variant)

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