Art


The DNA that makes you tick could look great on your living-room wall.


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Collectors love to hunt down paintings that reflect something important about the artist. At DNA 11, it’s buyers who put themselves into the art.

It all started when Adrian Salamunovic and his buddy Nazim Ahmed, who’ve been friends since their pre-kindergarten years, were sitting in their apartment drinking wine. Salamunovic spotted brochures that Ahmed had brought home from work, where he sold DNA-imaging technology to labs.Some grainy DNA photos grabbed Salamunovic’s attention. There was something oddly artistic about them. “It looked like a Mark Rothko painting to me,” says Salamunovic, a design consultant.

A few more glasses of wine, a little conversation, and the two Canadians decided they were on to something unique. The DNA image might have looked like a Rothko, but it was also more than a Rothko. “A lot of people buy Rothko prints, and they don’t understand what the artist was thinking,” says Salamunovic. The DNA art was “modern art with meaningbehind it.”

What It Is
Your chemical signature appears to be just another intriguing abstract. Bars of light scale up and down strands of symmetrical code, looking like neat, geometrical skyscrapers in a view of downtown at midnight. But these lights explain hair and eye color, athletic ability, life span. And though DNA might once have seemed esoteric, best confined to ascience lab, the sleuthing on CSI and the Discovery Channel has made it into something that millions of people can relate to.

How It’s Done
The two men started DNA 11 in 2005 with just $2,000. Thanks to increasingly accessible gene testing, they can take a small DNA sample and get itanalyzed in about four to six weeks. It’s then imaged onto an agarosegel and photographed with a special camera for transfer to canvas. To make sure each image is personalized, the men focus on the tiny sliceof DNA that determines unique characteristics, ignoring the 99 percentof genetic small print we all share. They’ll do one to four people’sDNA, and prices range from $390 to $1,200. Want to match the couch?Pick one of 25 color options or request a custom color.

Whom It Captures
People are the most likely candidates for DNA art, but DNA 11’s clients have also memorialized dogs, cats, horses, and even an iguana. Others have portrayed their deceased relatives in bright colors (obtaining the DNAfrom strands of hair). Coming soon: DNA swatches dubbed “the GenePak,”which highlight each subject’s passion, intelligence, strength, and gender. If you’re really into seeing more of yourself or a loved one onthe wall, DNA 11 can make supersized fingerprints ($190 to $490) andlip prints ($290 to $490) to add to your home collection. Picture it:Guests compliment the compelling canvas on your living-room wall, and when they ask you what it means, you’ll know exactly what to say.