Ria Hartley

I have developed an ongoing series of work The Genetic Body, a multimedia exploration of my own genetic heritage through DNA testing and retracing absent ancestral bodies. The Genetic Body centres around epigenetic inheritance (the ways that environmental factors affect our genetic make-up) using an arts/science collaborative process.

During 2016, along with BOM Fellow Laurie Ramsell, I developed a new research partnership with experimental genetics scientists at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Genomic Medicine (WMGMC). I undertook a residency at WMGMC to investigate the environmental factors that lead to changes in the human genome, trans-generational memory in the genome and how DNA, genome and epigenome are an interrelated system. This fed into the creation of a new participatory artwork called iowngenome which was exhibited at BOM in late 2016.

iowngenome offers an alternative reality experience based 5 years in the future. An immersive performance was used to create the perfect environment for the perfect genome, in an enclosed ‘pod’ at BOM over 12 hours. Twenty participants were introduced into the pod, learning how to improve their genome for future generations.

Participants experienced environmental conditions responding to diet, temperature, social behaviour, toxin elimination and hormone release through a series of creative, mental, physical and emotional activities. All activities derived from research undertaken during the residency phase.

iownegenome provides participants with a unique educational experience based on current genomics research. Participant responses were captured through video accounts and exhibited within the pod afterwards during the exhibition.