1999, 12ft x 12ft x 12ft x 12ft x 12ft x 1ft
used polypropylene microfuge tubes
The Sekelsky Lab
American, b. 1999
In Polypropylenetenes, art imitates the polytene chromosomes of Drosophila melanogaster larval salivary gland nuclei (see main page for an image of actual polytene chromosomes). Interconnected plastic microfuge tubes form the five long and one short chromosome arms that radiate outward from the chromocenter. The piece further imitates chromosomes through its dynamic nature: Some days we discover single-strand or double-strand breaks in the chains. Just as in the nucleus, this damage must be repaired accurately to ensure that the correct sequence of tubes endures. Another parallel is seen in the close-up below, in which the plastic genome contains the entire fly (or even several flies).
On May 17, 2013, this work was exhibited in the Ackland Art Museum as part of the Art of Science exhibition. Rather than transport the original sculpture (the contents of which probably shouldn't leave a lab environment), we did a temporary installation of a Polypropylenetenes 2.0 (below), including new tubes (some colored, some filled with colored agar) and new labels of our favorite genes.