Deciphering Human Chromosone 16: Index to the Report

Sarah Jacobs

Price £13.99+pp
ISBN 9780955309229
Year 2007
Edition print on demand
Pages 552
Binding softback
Illustration text only
Dimensions 246 x 189 mm

This book uses text in a visual way to document the debates associated with the mapping of the human genome, and functions as the Index to the ebook Deciphering Human Chromosone 16: We Report Here, also published by information as material and freely downloadable here.

To have the volume open on one’s desk is to stare into some kind of teeming cosmos, teeming with information which somehow issues from a tiny speck in our bodies. A galactic, nano Rosetta stone… It’s a wonderful and baffling object. ”

Guy Brett, art critic and curator

What did we say, do and think about genetics, nature, human nature and the possibilities for change that science and technology seemed to be opening up in the wake of the Human Genome Project? How are these debates moving on? Jacobs’ Deciphering Human Chromosone 16 project sharply explores these questions and more through its pair of publications. The ebook, We Report Here, documents the ethical, economic, political and philsophical polemics associated with this scientific quest in the wake of the announcement in the journal Nature (December, 2004) of its completion. Those polemics are put into the context of history and everyday life through Jacobs’ fluid ebook archive, which contains links to over 250 websites collected in the months following the announcement, and whose contents change, migrate and disappear over time.

The Index to the Report sets fragments collected form those websites against the background of the earlier draft sequence originally published by the open access online document archive, Project Gutenberg. The solid physicality of the Index contrasts with the ever-changing Report. Yet paradoxically the vagaries of any book printing process, which are amplified by the print on demand method and pressured by Jacobs’ typography , ensure that each copy of the Index is unique.

How is any artist to confront the excruciating complexity of the human genome – or any genome for that matter?… Jacobs has created something that is very directly drawn from the science and its diffusion, using the tools of a rabid bibliographer-cum-classifier. Yet the result subverts the science in the direction of chaos and cacophony. The effect is analogous the way that the extraordinary particularity of each individual person seems to confound the overwhelming similarity of our genetic constitutions. Jacobs provides a field for interpretative flexibility that triggers thoughts and insights of an unexpected nature. I think she will come to be regarded as one of the major artists working in the field.”

Martin Kemp, Professor of Art History, University of Oxford

Deciphering Human Chromosone 16: Index to the Report

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