Urban Genome

Urban Genome National Palace of Culture Sofia, September 2000. Part of Urban Cycles which was nominated for ZKM Media Award 2001

Urban Genome was developed following a visit to Bulgaria, hosted by the Media Arts group Interspace.

Genetics and Society had been in the forefront of my mind prior to my visit, partly though my on- going Art Research and definitely influenced by the imminent birth of my first son. Talking to Bulgarian artists there was a constant dialogue examining what it was to be Bulgarian and how were they to redefine themselves, the parallels with the then rebirth of Bulgaria resonated strongly with my own situation.

The installation was to comprise of 4 large projections, each with a passive infrared sensor (as in intruder alarms) so that users could trigger the system by entering the projection. It was short step from 4 projections to 4 base structures in a DNA sequence.

The resulting work is a constant process of translation. As the users trigger a projection they cause one of 4 symbols (particular to the projection triggered) to be added to a visual genetic sequence. The 4 symbols used were derived from the scientific representations of Earth (Silicon, Si), Water (H20) , Air (O2) and Fire (Energy MC2). These were graphically designed to reflect the Sixties Soviet Architecture of the National Palace of Culture.

Symbols in the generated sequence combine and are interpreted as the articles from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. These are spoken by myself and signed. I chose not to translate the Articles into Bulgarian to reflect the elitist structures that in effect deny people access to these basic Human Rights.

The work is situation specific and elements would change if it were to tour.

signing 1


signing 2


signing 3