To Space, From Earth

Space Art DNA Capsule

To Space, From Earth is a Space Art DNA Capsule utilizing emergent technology and artistic expression to carry a visual message to space. Beyond Earth, an artist collective exploring the frontiers of art and space, partners with Twist Bioscience, a synthetic biology and genomics company, to encode artwork into silicon-based synthetic DNA to be launched on a spaceflight by 2022. 

Select artworks made by members of Beyond Earth reference life on Earth and the current challenges we face referencing human population growth, consumption and degradation, and preservation of Earth’s biodiversity. Artworks reflect on our current geological age of the Anthropocene, where human activity has a dominant effect on climate and the environment. The artists chose to store this message of human impact in DNA, which is present in nearly all living organisms, to symbolize life on Earth. These artworks serve as a visual record of this current time; they reflect challenges of today to inspire new approaches for a better future. Beyond Earth presents these artworks to encourage a shift from a human-centric worldview to be more encompassing of all inhabitants.

Elena Soterakis
Better Morrow, 2020
Acrylic, oil, and collage, on panel
10 x 10 inches

Yoko Shimizu
Biodiversity in Space, 2020
Plants, bacteria, and human DNA
Size: variable

Richelle Gribble
A Thousand to One, 2020
Acrylic on panel
10 x 10 inches

Twist Bioscience is a pioneer in DNA Data Storage, and the first company to publicly commercialize their DNA writing technology for data storage. Twist is now collaborating with multimedia artists to use their cutting-edge biotechnology as a tool for archiving and preserving artwork and culture to inform citizens of the future of this current era. All known digital storage mediums today will become obsolete or fail during the lifetime of an artwork that should inspire current and future generations for centuries. DNA is positioned as the best archival storage medium to store precious data that should last centuries or longer.

To store the artworks in DNA, they are digitized and converted from binary data to the DNA bases represented by the letters A, T, G and C. The encoded DNA sequences are synthesized with Twist Bioscience’s silicon-based platform and preserved in a specialized capsule built for spaceflight. DNA is nature’s oldest and most resilient data storage method; no energy or maintenance is required to preserve it, it is ultra-dense and hence compact; and lasts hundreds of thousands of years making it the ultimate time capsule for any digitized artwork. For these reasons, To Space, From Earth will endure the test of time and serve as an important record of human history and the biosphere.

Beyond Earth will co-create with space, revealing how spaceflight transforms and evolves artworks, and how space preserves or alters their message over time.Beyond Earth is not only exploring the unique storage capabilities of DNA, but also testing data retrieval when DNA is exposed to the harsh elements of space.