Would you put up for auction on Internet the full genome of your personal DNA sequence? The Dutch social artist Jeroen van Loon did put it up for a year in his project Cellout.me, which started on September 27, 2015. Today his DNA is worth 333 euro with 292 days to go. It is not a Dutch auction, so the highest bidder of the auction gets 380Mb of data, a server with a display, and server rack. The buyer of Cellout.me will own an extremely personal ‘selfie’ and will become co-owner of the artist’s DNA.
Blood has been tapped from the artist and DNA isolated from the blood sample. Then a DNA sequencer was put to crank data for two weeks to come up with 380Mb of the genome data. These data were transferred to the data center of the medical institute and studied by experts. Eventually the data were transferred to the server of the Cellout.me installation. Presently the installation is on show in the Utrecht Central Museum (Netherlands).
The DNA installation will most likely not beat Van Gogh’s paintings, but provoke more questions. By putting it up for auction the DNA is turned into commodity, that can be bought, collected and saved. It is like the auctioning off of a hair lock of Napoleon, but DNA looks more intimate. An expert can read the sequence and discover deficiencies. It is also something that you do not want to be in the hands of the wrong person. And is DNA the future collection item as it is as unique as painting?