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A Book of Mine

DNA Series
→Prologue: A Falling Tooth (solo), Museum of Arts and Design, 2020
Living/Distance, Make Room Gallery, 2020
→The Ground is Falling (solo), Aranya Art Center, 2021
→Seedlings and Offsprings (solo), Pioneer Works, 2023
A Book of Mine, 2019

Installation view at Museum of Arts and Design, New York
Installation view at Museum of Arts and Design, New York

Mixed Media InstallationA Book of Mine, of which the 900-page Volume X is one part, presents my entire genome in base pairs. Volume X contains the bases of my X chromosome. The DNA was sampled and sequenced in December 2018, and the reads were mapped to the Human X chromosome reference sequence UCSC hs38. The bases covered by my sequencing are annotated in black, and those uncovered in grey.  

I relate to DNA and astrology similarly, through a desire to seek answers about my self. And yet these questions might never be answered. When making the book, I could only do 16 pages at a time: printing the sequence on 120 feet of paper, folding it 8 times, connecting the pages with glue, and then repeating. I touched each letter and searched for what is so unique and ordinary about me. 

The folding—the walks back and forth along the long lengths of paper, tapping and brushing—became a late-night dance in my studio. 

A Book of Mine  - Volumn X

Folded: 7” X 11” X 4” 
Extended: 90”X11”X5”
Prints on accordion-bound rice paper

A Book of Mine - Digital

Website and genome files

With this digital commission for "Forking Piragene," A Book of Mine is now available as an online, print-on-demand publication— though printing it in its entirety is a nearly impossible task. In its sheer scale, the project illuminates the possibilities and limits of genetics as a form of self-knowledge and authorship.

Our procedure:

DNA was sampled by buccal swab with a sterile cotton tip applicator and stored on dry ice/-80 until prepped using the Qiagen DNeasy Blood and Tissue kit. A sequencing library was prepped using the Nextera DNA library prep kit and cleaned up using house-made AMPure-equivalent Serapure beads to a final average library size of ~350bp as indicated by gel. DNA was sequenced on the Illumina NextSeq 500 platform using a Mid-output 150 cycle kit with 2x84bp paired end reads, generating 130,139,348 reads passing filter. Reads were mapped to the UCSC hs38 X chromosome sequence using BowTie2, and variants were called using SAMtools/BCFtools. Bedtools was used to generate a coverage mask, and a custom python script then combined the reference chromosome, the coverage mask, and the variant file to generate the final text. Covered bases, defined as a very liberal 1x coverage depth (i.e. a single read) were annotated as black, and uncovered bases as grey. Variants with a quality <20 were not included. Heterozygous sites are shown in format [N…N/N…N]. Data was outputted as a .html file in 10megabase chunks, with per-base (or per-variant, in the case of variants) inline styling block specifying the text color, and converted to PDF format for printing using the wkhtmltopdf tool.
Paper folding
Sequences reading at Columbia University


Collaborator: Ross McBee, Columbia University Department of Systems Biology

Photo: Haocheng Wang, Katherine Ryals, Xin Liu (process)