D.pulex Black Box by Nastassia Zenovich

An interactive SciArt installation which explores an idea of the plasticity of DNA of individual organisms, genes eco-responsivity, and a new sensitivity to and importance of the personal data becoming available due to new technologies introduction.

At the core of the installation lay gene expression networks of Daphnia pulex and research of its environmental sensitivity. The waterflea Daphnia pulex is a keystone species of freshwater ecosystems, where Daphnia-specific genes are the genes most responsive to ecological challenges.

The core data visualization reconstructs the main process of scientific research and couples it with the idea of the plasticity of the DNA of individual organisms. To do so, the network structure from the WGCNA analysis was combined with the data of D.pulex genes expression profiles and reconstructed as separate visual layers with an interactive response to the viewer’s presence.

The installation explores insights of system biology, the natural science that studies life and living organisms with growing accuracy on one side, and on the other, its alive completely non-static structures, deeply connected with time-based accidents, environmental factors, human personal inputs, stochastic changes, and the necessary evolutionary plasticity.