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DNA & Molecules




Inspiration and composition


‘Transcription’ depicts one of the most fundamental steps in the creation of life and in our body’s response to being vaccinated against pathogens - the production of proteins.


Alexander explores the aesthetics of a scientific diagram that explains the process of transcription. Diagrams like these, generally found in textbooks, can be unimaginative. Alexander questioned how to make them more colorful and artful. During the process of transcription, certain regions of the DNA that exists in the nucleus of all our cells are ‘read’ by specialized enzymes and a corresponding RNA molecule is produced. This intermediary RNA molecule, a page out of a cellular cookbook, serves as a recipe for the production of a protein. That protein will support a certain cellular function which will help cells satisfy their needs and adapt to the ever-changing environment.


He started with a broad yellow layer, following reddish and brown strokes and ending with tinyspeckles of multi-colored paint. These dabs

of paint symbolize all the different elements that are, seemingly randomly, floating around in the cell. The choice for yellow, orange and red is purely aesthetical, although the colors suit the process of burning energy.


Transcription is indeed an active process in cells that requires ATP consumption in order to take place. The dark shapes symbolize the enzyme that is reading the DNA. There’s a special focus on the incredible length of these strands, suggested by the depth and perspective in the painting.

“DNA and RNA are very long. I’m intrigued by the scale of these things, they’re all so tiny. If you would pull DNA out, it would have a total length of two meters, it’s insane. It’s compacted and folded into every single cell. You could never see it with your own eyes. I’m fascinated with these tiny processes that are constantly happening. Physics and molecules moving around, that’s what creates us. Creepy, but beautiful.”

The artist

About Alexander Damkær Hansen

Alexander is a Master’s student in Environmental Biology. He paints in daily life - mostly animals

such as people’s pets. He made ‘Transcription’ as a gift for a friend who was studying medical sciences. Alexander used an actual medical diagram from a textbook for reference. He set up his painting in layers which is reminiscent of the process of transcription that also happens in steps.

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