[ISEA2011] Panel: Paul Vanouse – Deep Woods PCR

Panel Statement

Panel: BioARTCAMP: Laboratory Ecologies in the Wild West

Deep Woods PCR is an his­tor­i­cal fic­tion of sci­ence, in which I source pri­mary mol­e­c­u­lar bi­ol­ogy chem­i­cals from the re­mote en­camp­ment. The Banff re­gion is famed for its nat­ural hot springs, which are the habi­tat for bac­te­ria named Ther­mus aquati­cus. This bac­te­ria pro­duces the heat-ac­ti­vated Taq DNA Poly­merase, one of the most im­por­tant en­zymes in mol­e­c­u­lar bi­ol­ogy be­cause of its use in the poly­merase chain re­ac­tion (PCR) DNA am­pli­fi­ca­tion/iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tech­nique.  In this pro­ject, I will har­vest Taq Bac­te­ria from the springs to use in each re­ac­tion and then per­form PCR with­out elec­tric­ity as I will thermo-cy­cle DNA re­ac­tion tubes by phys­i­cally mov­ing from one tem­per­a­ture re­gion of a hot­spring to an­other, and thus in­duce am­pli­fi­ca­tion. While ac­knowl­edg­ing its his­tory in the first great patent war of mol­e­c­u­lar bi­ol­ogy, my retro-pi­o­neer­ing of this PCR iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tech­nique will also hope­fully in­voke mythic nar­ra­tives of (self) dis­cov­ery.

  • Paul Vanouse has been work­ing in emerg­ing tech­no­log­i­cal media forms since 1990.  His elec­tronic cin­ema, bi­o­log­i­cal ex­per­i­ments, and in­ter­ac­tive in­stal­la­tions have been ex­hib­ited in over 20 coun­tries and widely across the US. Vanouse is an As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor of Vi­sual Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity at Buf­falo, where he co-Di­rects the Emerg­ing Prac­tices MFA con­cen­tra­tion.  His re­cent pro­jects, “La­tent Fig­ure Pro­to­col”, “Oc­u­lar Re­vi­sion” and “Sus­pect In­ver­sion Cen­ter” use mol­e­c­u­lar bi­ol­ogy tech­niques to chal­lenge “genome-hype” and to con­front is­sues sur­round­ing DNA fin­ger­print­ing.