Faculty Solimán López Created the Harddiskmuseum, the First Museum Ever to Be Stored in DNA

Harddiskmuseum by Solimán López

Thanks to the work of Solimán López, the Harddiskmuseum becomes in 2015 one of the most original museums in the history of art within the Escuela Superior de Arte y Tecnología de Valencia; it’s the first museum in history to be stored in DNA.

More precisely, the museum is stored on a 2TB hard drive.

Solimán López, with a wide international career in the world of new media and contemporary art in general, raised a question that he defines as the “dematerialization of culture”, which of course concerns its structures, and in this case, museums.

The beginnings of the project were located within what is understood in contemporary art as an “artist running space” and which today has become a virtual institution. Currently, the Harddiskmuseum has almost 150 artists from more than 20 different countries and showcases video works, images, texts, sound art, video games, digital spaces and sculptures, works with artificial intelligence and even documentation of the work produced by the first intelligent artist-robot Ai- Da, who with her mechanized arm is capable of developing works of different natures. 

The Museum finds its essence in the storage of digital files, which constitutes for its founder the “basis of contemporary creation,” since everything is based on that compilation of information and construction of a specific format that gives life to the work. In a way, we can say that the art of our time begins with the ‘save as’ of softwares. But Soliman and his team didn’t stopped there and continued with their particular tribute to this contemporary creation, its conservation, and its enhancement towards the future. This is how the HDM Gen project – or the genetic version – of the Harddiskmuseum is born. 

Bringing Together Art & Science 

The compilation of these more than 5 years of work – with 15 international exhibitions/ presentations and the collaboration with research centres on the preservation of digital art – have resulted in this new unique project that combines the work of great professionals from the world of science and genetics. This project materialized when López came into contact with the geneticist Dina Zielinskin and found the technical solution for storing the Museum’s metadata in DNA and also printing it in 3D.

After this step, thanks to the contribution of the digital storage specialist Gema Grueso and her company CARTA Conservación de Arte Actual SL, the metadata from the entire content of the hard disk was obtained, and what was left to do was the synthesis of the content. For this next step, they made an agreement with the American company Twist Bioscience, who generated the transformation from binary to quaternary code, from ones and zeros to the basic components of the genetic code, adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C). These components were then sent to the laboratory of the geneticist and the artist’s studio (Updated Art Studio) to finish the process in Germany, where 16 pieces of DNA were obtained and printed in PLA with the genetic material inside. 

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