Jaq Chartier's works represent, in a fairly abstract manner, a combination of science (specifically, biology) and technology. Often, her works are somewhat experimental in nature... Jaq uses them to develop different color effects.

This particular work is inspired by a scientific process known as DNA gel electrophoresis, which is used to separate and visualize DNA chains. Basically, DNA gel electrophoresis uses an electric field to pull DNA chains (which are negatively charged) through a gel composed of agarose or polyacrylamide, toward the positive pole of the electric field. Shorter DNA chains move more quickly through the gel than longer chains, so you end up with a "ladder" of chains, spread out by size. The chains can then be visualized by adding ethidium bromide, a dye which binds to the DNA and fluoresces orange in ultraviolet light.

The process used to create this work is similar to DNA gel electrophoresis. Jaq used stains, dyes, and inks in place of DNA, and gel, gesso, and spray paint in place of agarose or polyacrylamide, to see how they would react with each other when applied in layers. Some combinations resulted in colors being covered up, while others resulted in colors bleeding through and spreading. Not only did Jaq use processes similar to electrophoresis to create this work, but she also laid out the samples so that they resemble an actual electrophoresis test. (In artistic terms, this is known as an ink table.) Jaq added labels on the left side and the bottom of the work so that she could track the combinations of materials used in the work:

Left side labels, top to bottom: NY Sepia, Trans. Med. Brown, Trans. Early Am. Maple, Walnut, Dr. Martin's Sepia, Hig Brown, Trans. Sage Mix, Paneche Blue, Trans. Card. Red, Ferric, Ferric w/ Copper, Hig Sepia, Hig Sepia w/ Pan. Bl., "Olive" Mix (Trans. Colors), Pot. Dich., Hig Black w/ Lemon, Vitrail Bnt. Amber, Iodine

Bottom labels, left to right: 100 1x BIN, 100 2x BIN, 100 2x Krylon Gloss, Gesso BIN, Kilz Gesso, Zin. BIN Gesso, Zin Cover, 100 1x Kilz, Gesso Krylon Gloss, Decrolon Flat, Rustoleum Flat, Zin Cover, Gesso Zin Cover, Gesso Krylon Gloss, Gesso BIN

Interestingly, because of the composition of its materials, this work may change slightly over time, as colors continue to bleed and spread through the gel.

When I saw this work for the first time, I recognized what it represented almost immediately... I've seen enough pictures of DNA test results to recognize them, although the ones I've seen usually don't contain this many blots. (It also occurred to me that the different blots of color could represent holes in the work, with light streaming through from behind the work. The angles of some of the streaks of color, especially the blue streaks, lend some weight to this notion, even though it's really not correct.)

I really like the abstract, yet linear nature of this work, especially the evenly-spaced grid of colored blots, which range in intensity from quite vivid to almost nonexistent. It appeals to the orderly, logical part of my mind. I've always been interested in science, as well, so this work is doubly special.

Very cool!

This work was on tour with the exhibition Gene(sis): Contemporary Art Explores Human Genomics, sponsored by the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, from early 2002 through the end of 2004.

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