Mexican doctor turns human DNA into personalised works of art

Image: Genoma23

A Mexican doctor and exponent of ‘BioArt’ turns human DNA into personalised works of art.

The Mexican doctor and researcher Juan Roldán, who has been living in Girona since 2008, has created the company Genoma23 to produce and sell personalised works of art made with human DNA.

The idea was developed by Roldán using a mathematical algorithm that translates genetic information into unique strokes and colours in order to create a digital image.

“Just as DNA makes people have certain skin, hair and eye colours, it also makes the brushstrokes and tones of the painting unique and unrepeatable, like DNA itself,” says Roldán.

Using a saliva sample, a completely non-invasive procedure, the laboratory isolates and sequences fragments of 23 genes, the small segments that form DNA and that contain the specific information that determines physical traits and make each individual unique.

Each cell of the body contains between 25,000 and 30,000 genes, and the 23 used in Roldán’s project are the same ones as those analysed in paternity tests or forensic medical exams, for example.

DNA is formed of four chemical bases: adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine, which bond to each other and form pairs of bases that connect the two chains of DNA, forming a double helix.

DNA is different in each person, even in identical twins, which guarantees that no two artworks in the Genoma23 project are the same.

The DNA sequences obtained in the laboratory from the saliva sample are introduced into a mathematical algorithm developed by the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Girona, and this creates a unique digital image.

This project is not the first to join the science of DNA with art. “BioArt” is based on the application of scientific tools and techniques to create works of art.

These artists use all kinds of organic elements such as plants, skin, insects, genes, bacteria, fungi and even their own bodies to create their works of art.


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Tamsin Brown

Originally from London, Tamsin is based in Malaga and is a local reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering Spanish and international news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]