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Converting to Human Readable Format 

Digital Illustration

Place of Origin




Inspiration and composition


Leahy spent most of her bachelor’s degree looking at genetic code; studying the jumble of endless information invisible to the human eye. DNA is a long, complicated, winding molecule with all the necessary instructions to build an organism. To understand these instructions, ‘we need computers to decipher the pattern of genes and turn it into something meaningful’. During her internship, Leahy felt overwhelmed with the number of different programmes available to her to understand these patterns, ‘all of which have the same initial input of a DNA sequence’. In her artwork, she ‘wanted to represent the mess that is a DNA molecule and show that only through converting to ones and zeros we begin to understand it'. Inspired by the open call, Leahy began exploring different ways of representing those ones and zeros. She first thought about a series of lines but decided ‘that might be a bit boring’. Using the graphic editor Procreate on her iPad, Leahy explored drawing different types of lines and

eventually decided on one continuous line which wrapped around the page and ultimately diverged into the recognisable double helix.  She then began to randomly place blue dots with the ATCG coded letters along the line, copying and pasting different coded lines in repeated patterns. She did the same with different shades of purple and pinks dots repeating the patterns again and again. ‘Once I had the initial line, I didn’t have to think too much. That’s what’s so nice about patterns’. Reminiscent of M. C. Escher’s repeated pattern prints, Leahy’s patterns are subtle, helping to create depth but not overwhelming the viewer. Since being chosen for the exhibition, Leahy feels a lot more confident in her work and will hopefully be able to do more with bringing that creative side of herself to her research. 


The artist

About Iseult Leahy

Iseult Leahy has a bachelor’s degree in genetics and is currently following the Bio Inspired Innovation Master’s at the UMC Utrecht. Her recently completed research project, focusing on gene order and genome organisation in Aspergilli, was the inspiration for her digital illustration. Born in 1998, Leahy noted that, ‘in my lifetime I’ve watched how the sequencing of DNA has evolved and I have always found it fascinating’. Growing up she was also very interested in art, specifically drawing, and took art classes in school until she was sixteen. One of the reasons she chose Bio Inspired Innovation was because ‘it’s like science at the design table’, and while art is now a hobby for Leahy and something she does to relax, she has found ways of bringing her creative side to her scientific work by designing her own images and graphs.  

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