Friday, May 20, 2011


Poet Christian Bök's The Xenotext is a poem that has been translated into DNA to be inserted into a bacterium.

So how is The Xenotext different to what's been done before?

Firstly, it's an original work that I've written. But it's also written in such a way that, when it's translated into this gene sequence, and then implanted, it can cause the organism it's implanted in to produce a viable protein in response - a protein that is itself a completely different poem. So I'm genetically engineering a bacterium that won't just archive my own text in its DNA, but also becomes a machine for writing a poem in response.

What is the verse that you've encoded?

It's a very short poem; a very masculine assertion about the aesthetic creation of life. The organism reads the poem, and writes in response a very melancholy, feminine - almost surreal in tone - poem about the aesthetic loss of life. The two poems are in dialogue with each other.

- from: Cryptic poetry written in a microbe's DNA, by Jamie Condliffe.


"According to Foucault,
the singularities that serve to rupture and renew normative discourse always emerge from the interstices – in other words, where nobody is looking. Almost certainly nobody was looking in the direction of Bury for the emergence of this significant project…"

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