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                                         Life matters”

KHOJ -  Centre for  Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology ICGEB , New Delhi,India,  Sept. 2007  

video installation

For centuries life has been considered as the fundamental feature of the Universe. Only recently we have acknowledged that life is of almost inconceivable insignificance, and the human race itself is,  as S. Hawking put it, “just a chemical scum on a moderate-size planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies.” The definition of life has changed drastically since the first philosophers were discussing the fundamental principle (achre) of nature. The traditional Aristotelian definition of life, describing it in terms of excretion, reproduction, growth and irritability, is no longer valid because “animated matter, matter in the form of living organisms, is not the basis of life. It is merely one of the effects of life, and the basis of life is molecular.” All life on the Earth is based on genes – molecules that are replicators consisting of 4 kinds of smaller molecules A,C,G,T joined in a chain called DNA.  The genetic code with slight differentiation is common to all life on Earth, having evolved from a single event that took place around 3,35 billions years ago. On a biological level, only DNA is alive; the rest of the organism (animal, plant or microbe) is merely a part of genes’ habitat. The vital feature of a gene is that it contains knowledge about its niche. Life is the physical embodiment of knowledge, and adaptation means to cause the environment to keep that knowledge in existence.

The project “Life matters” refers to this new perception of life that put the fundamental human questions ( How did we come here? Who are we? Where are we going?) in a new light. Initiated at ICGEB, it was inspired by the research on pathogens that have been accompanying human race from its beginning (malaria)  as well as new ones foreshadowing the future (SARS). The project bridges micro and macro processes, computer modeling with physical surrounding, scientific data with everyday experience creating contemporary multidimensional environment. Designed as an artistic laboratory, it aims at provoking personal reflection on the relationship of the man with the rest of his universe that makes the matter of life matter.

  With special thanks to:  
Prof. Ram Ramaswami, Jawaharlal Neru University, New Delhi
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology ICGEB New Delhi :
Prof. Virander Chauhan, Director
Mammalian Biology: Structural and Computational Biology
Dr Amit Sharma, Group Leader, Jasmita Gill, ManickamYogavel, Rachna Hora
Mammalian Biology: Malaria
Dr Malhotra Pawan, Group Leader, Reshma Korde
Mammalian Biology: Virology
Dr Shahid Jameel, Group Leader, Charu Tanwar, Manjula Kalia, Vivek Chandra, Amjad Hussain, Kartika Padhan
VIDEO FILMS FROM THE SERIES "lIFE IS..."  music: Hemant Sreekumar
The title “Life is” comes from Matt Ridley’s famous statement: “Life is one. Everything that lives uses the same dictionary and knows the same code”.


1st video using material connected with malaria research (crystallography  and  structural biology)



2nd video using material connected with malaria research  (mammalian biology) 


video using material connected with research on SARS virus


                                                           assumed positions of electrons in a protein