This project was my final project for my Bio/Nano-Technology + Design class. I wanted to explore gene therapy and address people's concerns about it through typography, videography, and physical installation.
I stuffed a Build-a-Bear with objects to signify mutated genes and edited genes (the closed eyes, pink stuffing and checkered heart vs the open eyes, white stuffing, and red heart). Each object signifies a different disease I researched that currently has no cure, but for which researchers are developing possible gene therapy treatments.
I also made a video that shows the bear being stuffed – at the end, both bears look the same. I wanted to express that genetic manipulation isn't inherently a bad thing, especially for use in treating disease in somatic cells.
Using a Build-a-Bear for this project was interesting in demonstrating the financial aspect of most of these treatments. A student at the exhibition, who has hemophilia, commented on the fact that her parents never let her go to Build-a-Bear as a kid because it was too expensive, and the same would likely be true for her seeking out a gene therapy when it does become available.
I also created a typeface for this project. As every living thing is made up of only adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, I wanted to make a typeface with which you could write an infinite amount of words with only the letters A, C, T, and G. It was harder than I thought, but I ended up making a font that I used in my final book. I compiled my research, my typeface, and my motivations into a stack of papers made to look like medical forms and presented them on a clipboard for our exhibition. I also found the gene sequences of the mutated gene for each of the three diseases and layered them on the background of those pages – a small detail that I love.