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Prélude in ACGT – Sonification of personal (DNA) data

Created by Pierry Jaquillard at ECAL (Media and Interaction Design Unit), Prélude in ACGT is collection of tools that explore the relationship between music and biology. The project uses Pierry’s own DNA (chromosome 1 to 22 and XY) and converts it into music.

During his studies at ECAL, Pierry was always interested in the ways code can add to literature, photography, etcetera but above all the collision between the nature’s core structure (DNA) and the artificial, man made (CODE). He worked with his own DNA to explore and discover it in a different way, throughout music – to see what is contained in his very own personal data and if maybe it could have been composed. As a result, he created five interfaces in order to examine it but also to try to understand the conversion process. Two of the devices drive the interaction whereas the remote allows you can change parameters like Tempo, the musical arrangement or even the type of conversion and the chromosomes’ library where you can choose which one to play and where inside it. The three other are used to visualize sound, the type of algorithm and his raw DNA – all in search for understanding the process.

“This Prelude is important for me, as the technological advances are taking any data (including music) and turn them into DNA in order to save them for almost eternity as they promise. But for me, the most important is more the interpretation of a code rather than the materialism of the code itself. I think that maybe we are just generating data that will last centuries but the key to retrieve them won’t. They could be a kind of post-digital hieroglyphs.” –– Pierry Jaquillard

The setup is comprised of a number of web apps displayed on several iPads. From all the information displayed to the musical score, everything is processed though JavaScript scripts. Pierry used a midi Library for JavaScript to generate the midi signals in the main computer that is then passed into Ableton Live to play the electronic sounds. The midi file then can be recorded, exported and then generated as musical score in other music notation software.

Project PagePierry Jaquillard | ECAL

Credits: Pierry Jacquillard (Project), Alain Bellet, Cyril Diagne, Gaël Hugo, Christophe Guignard (Tutors), Laura Perrenoud, Tibor Udvari, Pietro Alberti, Marc Dubois (Assistants).

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