Sunday, June 8, 2008

DNA Capturing Bead

Here is a cool job I recently completed for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, keeper of the Doomsday Clock -- a symbol referenced heavily in popular culture. Minutes to Midnight, a 2007 album by Linkin Park, is titled after the aforementioned clock.

This project called for a colorful illustration of a DNA capturing bead, which is a tool used in genetic sequencing.

One of the reasons I am blogging about this illustration is so I can show off my crafty handiwork. Reference is always key. I'll shoot or acquire photo reference when needed, and if the object of my desired requirement doesn't exist...I'll build it. I happen to have quite a laboratory of foam core items I've built as props. This bead will be perched between my 3-foot high foam and paper missile and my life-size mock test tube rack with complete set of acetate test tubes.

The recipe to craft a DNA capturing bead is thusly: one part 4-inch diameter styrofoam sphere, about 20-30 5-inch long, hand made wire and artist's tape "twist ties," and a sturdy metal rod to act as a stem to the DNA bead "lollipop." Take a screwdriver and twist the wires into curly Q's and other interesting shapes that replicate DNA formations. Be sure to arrange the wire and tape "ties" into an organic, random, yet well-designed composition. Place the rod and composed bead in a glass jar, like a vase propping the creation up. Set up some dramatic lighting, let the shadows do their thing, and be sure to rotate as necessary to explore all angles as you photograph away.

It took a dash into town to reason through and come up with this recipe as I bulldogged my way from aisle to aisle deciding if pipe cleaners, silly straws, or gardening wire would best represent DNA strands. After dumping an armload of weirdness onto the checker's conveyor belt, I hightailed it home to build my bead, shoot it, and prepare two sketches.

The single bead was chosen, and a colorful representation was produced. The freedom was great and the creation turned out kind of cool, I think. It's received some positive reviews, so I thought I would share.

two of my reference photos

my sketches

1 comment:

Sweet Diane said...

Absolutely amazing work Allan. One can take for granted the hard work, effort and talent that goes into creating such a "simple" image. Your very inspiring!