From DNA to NSA


Session Title:

  • Human Condition, Ethnicity, Politics

Presentation Title:

  • From DNA to NSA




  • The Icelandic government granted the rights to scan the DNA of all its citizens to the company deCODE genetics, Inc. This company believes that the Icelandic model for it’s inhabitants mixed with other phenotypes can be of great interest in the study of certain mental illnesses like schizophrenia etc … To avoid bankruptcy the Icelandic company later goes on the market reaching $ 485 million worth by integrating international “joint venture” investment companies. After various phases, the Icelandic data is passed to a Chinese mining company which is currently marketing Icelandic DNA information with the restrictions and rules ofanonymity.

    We can think of many rabbit holes here: What is the market value of your DNA? What is the DNA business model? What benefits did the Icelandic state receive from it’s “deal” with the company deCODE? What are the implications when the data can be inherited by subsequent companies? Will China copy the model of Icelandic DNA and create blond cyborgs, with blue eyes and Icelandic mentality?We will talk about our Project “From DNA to NSA, an action-intervention based on DIY bio laboratory to extract DNA strings from the visitors and data visualization and sonification of human DNA.

    Project Description
    From DNA to NSA is an action intervention and a data visualization and sonification of human DNA. It consists on setting up a DIY bio laboratory to extract DNA strings from the visitors. Using common, domestic products, audience can follow an easy DIY process and experience how their DNA strings looks like. The DIY biolab serves as a proof of how easy your privacy can be broken.Visitors, once they finalize the 5 steps can choose to blend their genetic material with the others visitors formulating a new common DNA. A blender is set up at the exhibition space. Meanwhile, public DNA records from an internet database is compared to one of the genomas from the Icelandic DNA database, and the results are visualized and sonified, at different monitors and audio system.