Machines for Evolving
and dDNA (d is for dancing)

Nell Tenhaaf

In Machines for Evolving, figure drawings are superimposed on a backdrop that consists of different kinds of information about the body: a computer model of t-RNA and an artificial wound. The three elements as a whole pose the question of how accessible our bodies are to ourselves. The drawings, the more intuitive element, are like the internal organization of an organism, the aspect of self that is, ironically, more difficult to come to understand-even though it is literally closer to us.

dDNA (d is for dancing) shows some people learning to dance alongside a molecular model that seems to pick up the same rhythm. It’s quickly obvious from watching the dance lessons that dancing comes more easily to some than to others. Although the work does not propose that we learn to dance and then pass it on genetically, it does raise questions about how we teach things to subsequent generations in very subtle and complex ways. As in Machines for Evolving, the interest is in calling attention to the idea that dynamics at different organizational levels work together and interrelate, and possibly resemble each other.

Nell Tenhaaf, an electronic media artist and writer based in Toronto, has exhibited worldwide. She has published numerous reviews and articles. Her textual and visual work addresses the cultural implications of new technologies, focusing on how digital representation links art practice to the biosciences and to artificial life. Her article “As Art is Lifelike: Evolution, Art and the Readymade” was published in Leonardo Journal in 1998. She is an Assistant Professor in the Visual Arts Department (New Media) of York University, and is represented in Toronto by Paul Petro Contemporary Art.

*dDNA (d is for dancing) will be exhibited off-site, in the storefront window of Zsa Zsa Gallery, 962 Queen St. West, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., November 6 to 16, 2000.