Skin Database speculates on the possibility of DNA-digital data storage on human skin, which inquiries an alternative relationship between the human body and data storage. It imagines that due to the data overload in the year 2040, hardware-based storage is not able to support striking data growth. Therefore, people start to archive data on the skin by taking advantage of the outstanding capacity and longevity of DNA-strands. It aims to open discussion on how fast developing DNA-editing technology such as CRISPR could make an impact on our daily routine and potentially shape new social norms.
The exponential growth rate of data is exceeding the ability to get stored even with the forecast improvements microchip-grade silicon-based storage technologies. As an alternative solution, scientists are developing a cutting-edge technology that uses DNA sequences to archive digital data. And they have successfully assembled synthesized oligonucleotides in vitro and add the nucleotides into the genome of E-coli according to the paper “CRISPR - Cas Encoding of a Digital Movie into the Genomes of a Population of Living Bacteria”, which proves the possibility of storing and retrieving data from living cells.
This project inquiries not only a potential practice of biotechnology with an enormous impact on us but also invites reflection on possible modifications on the human body made to better adapt to the digital world. As a speculative design, it is both realistic and fictional. As a creative way to test and examine the hypothesis produced by emerging technology, this design facilitates ways to look forward to helping people better prepared for potential challenges.
Collaborators: Shihan Zhang, Yangyifan Dong, Bo Fone
Exhibited at Gray Area Art and Technology Foundation | San Francisco, 2019