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Joseph Rossano's artwork at the Museum of South Australia

For those of you who live in or around Adelaide, I recommend popping into the SA Museum and checking out a funky artwork by Joseph Rossano. It’s just in the foyer (past the security people, before the staircase) and features a set of big, blue butterflies behind frosted glass.

The butterflies look blurry – on purpose – but if you have one of those new-fangled iPhones you can scan in the QR code next to them and sneak a peek behind the glass to the species inside. The QR codes are a barcode symbolising the DNA barcodes, a short stretch of DNA written on the side of each of the frames.

My current work, BOLD, utilizes two-dimensional QR codes–a surrogate DNA Barcode– to link the viewer to the science behind the art. By scanning one of my sculptures–for example a colorful butterfly collected by Area Conservacion Guanacaste parataxonomists and hosted in the Smithsonian Institution’s collections–the viewer transports one’s self to Dr. Daniel Janzen’s natural history of the specimen and other collateral data. All of the specimens portrayed in this series are deliberately indistinct behind their window, thus making it difficult to discern the organism’s true identity.
Joseph Rossano artist statement.

It’s a fun way to explore and interact with DNA barcodes (if you don’t know what I’m on about, read this) and imagines a future when DNA barcoding devices are handheld for species identification on the fly.

Be quick though – it’s in the last weeks and will be returning to America after that. Keep an eye on this artist though, looks like there’s some great science art in the portfolio.