Joanna Hoffmann (PL) - Hidden topology of being (the sublime and protein molecule)

Prague - December 6, 2012

Joanna Hoffmann presents her paper within the panel Liminal Lives: Life in the Age of Permanent Bio-transgression at International conference MutaMorphosis in Prague, Czech Republic.

Life has many definitions. Today it is usually identified with the processes of transferring and preserving information/knowledge/. However life can be also interpreted, paraphrasing words by S.Semotiuk’s, as the way in which space exists, and vice versa; space might be treated as the way in which life exists. This definition became a motto for my artistic investigations examining relations between micro and macro scales of our existence. I choose the protein molecule, named the basic brick of life, as the core of my investigations.

The dynamic, diverse structure of a protein consists of amino acid sequences, quite widespread in the Universe. When X-rayed, it reveals its atomic arrangement, which could serve as a map of a starry sky. Its folding topology, on the other hand, reminds of mysterious geometric formations called “Calabi-Yau manifolds” in which, according to the superstring theory, successive dimensions of our world are “curled up” on a subatomic scale.

In our daily perception we live in a 4-dimensional world but we suspect that it might be a simplified illusion and our relationship with the reality may remain much more subtle than what our senses offer us to believe. The question appears: what kind of tools and methods can we can use in order to comprehend how we exist in the multidimensional Universe? How can we reach it with our minds, “narrowed down” to 4D and understand what does it mean to live in a multidimensional universe?

Can a protein molecule serve as a key to investigate these questions?

Human Genome Project revealed that the number of genes is much smaller than proteins they code. While human genome is made of around 22 thousand genes, human proteom contains around 400 thousand proteins. Each of them, different in its form and functions, reminds us that we ourselves are involved in the obscure matter of the Universe that we only started to discover.

I base my reflections on my art projects realized with the support of International Centre of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi and National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India as well as Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology University of Poznań in Poland. In these projects I bride scientific and cultural imageries, translating scientific ideas into the area of art as a source of personal and collective consciousness and invite intuitive examination of the unfathomable nature of our reality.

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