The apples literally infected with knowledge

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Bring me home, please

The most unusual objects are lost on the London tube: breast implants, human skulls, false teeth and braces, a jar of bull sperm, stuffed puffer fish, etc. And every year, a surprisingly high number of artworks are left on the underground trains. Charlotte Jarvis recently lost an apple 'contaminated' with synthetic DNA encoding for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The artist contacted Transport for London but they never found it. If ever you've picked up and eaten it, there's no need to be worried, the fruit is neither harmful to your health nor illegal.

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Blighted by Kenning, an installation and performance by Charlotte Jarvis. Photo by James Read

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Blighted by Kenning, an installation and performance by Charlotte Jarvis. Photo by James Read

The apple was part of Blighted by Kenning, a bioart piece Jarvis developed in close collaboration with The Netherlands Proteomics Centre (NPC), a research center located in Utrecht that studies proteome, the 'set of proteins expressed by a genome, cell, tissue or organism'.

"We bio-engineered a bacteria so that its DNA encodes for the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Charlotte explains. "We then extracted the DNA and sprayed it onto the surface of the apples."

Some of the fruits were then sent to genomics laboratories around the world for participating scientists to sequence the DNA, find the message hidden within and send back a translation.

The apples are currently exhibited in a former dairy converted into an art space called The Big Shed in Suffolk. The gallery is now filled with a small orchard but only one of the apples hanging on the one of the trees has been 'contaminated'. The show also includes a billboard visualising The Declaration of Human Rights expressed as a protein, films of the NPC scientists talking about their work and eating the fruit, the documents that institutes have sent to the artist and the NPC after sequencing the apples but one of the most fascinating part is the wall covered with a wall of correspondence detailing the process of making the project.

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Blighted by Kenning, an installation and performance by Charlotte Jarvis. Photo by James Read

Charlotte uploaded some of the letters online. The exchange might be of interest to artists, curators, reporters wanting to work with life sciences: the legal restrictions in developing or simply exhibiting 'bioart' works, the misunderstanding and challenges encountered from the very moment the project was first articulated, etc.

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Blighted by Kenning, an installation and performance by Charlotte Jarvis. Photo by James Read

Video interview with some of the NPC researchers:

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Blighted by Kenning, an installation and performance by Charlotte Jarvis. Photo by James Read

12m by 3m billboard showing visualisations of The Declaration of Human Rights expressed as a protein:

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Blighted by Kenning, an installation and performance by Charlotte Jarvis

One the opening night, Charlotte Jarvis ate one of the 'forbidden fruits':

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Blighted by Kenning, an installation and performance by Charlotte Jarvis. Photo by John East

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Blighted by Kenning, an installation and performance by Charlotte Jarvis. Photo by James Read

Don't Panic has interviewed Charlotte Jarvis about Blighted by Kenning.
I took a few images when i visited the show.

The exhibition Blighted by Kenning, curated by Clemency Cooke, runs until the 26th of August at The Big Shed in Stanny House Farm, High Street, Iken, Suffolk. The project will be exhibited at various locations in the Netherlands later this year.

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