Transcriptions 1-6 by James Beckett

Opening and booklaunch at the Cancer Research Institute

16 Jun 2009

In progress over the last year and a half, ‘Transcriptions 1-6’ is a commissioned work for the Cancer Research Institute of the Netherlands (NKI - AVL). An installation for the staircase of the new research laboratories, the work spans six floors in total.


By James Beckett for NKI. - James Beckett

The opening will begin with a few short lectures by Tijs Goldschmidt and Robbert Dijkgraaf, after which we visit the work itself.

The project is documented in a publication, which includes a description of the translation processes. At 96 pages, it is red on the sides and white on the inside, with texts by Will Holder, Robbert Dijkgraaf, Hans Schoo and Martine Van Kampen. Designed by Salome Schmuki, edited and copyedited by Tania Theodorou and Seamus Cater, and with documentation photographs by Qiu Yang, the book is available for free at the lectures and opening.

About the project

The transcriptions themselves consist of the writing of fish genetic information (available from online databases) into various historical languages; past and sometimes obsolete systems of information-storage and communication.

The whole project is an homage to the people working in and around the research institute. Much of their work involves the abstraction of complex biological situations, each time necessitating the invention of new and quite unlikely techniques. The technology and procedures they work with change at such a swift rate, resulting in a constant offloading and updating of approach.

This was the reason for looking backwards, - an absurd practice recalling past systems of reading and writing and with it a small meditation on methods of renewal.


15:30 Reception with coffee, tee and marshmallows
16:00 Welcome prof. dr A. Brens, scientific director and chairman of the board of directors NKI-AVL
16:05 Tijs Goldschmidt, evolution biologist and specialist on art and biology
16:35 Reflections of prof. dr. Robbert Dijkgraaf, president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science.
16:55 Presentation of artwork by James Beckett
17:15 Visit to the exhibition with drinks and music by dj. Mark Berman

For the lectures and opening it is handy to rsvp at SKOR, with Christiane Bosman ( / 020 6722525)

Location: NKI-AVL, Piet Borst Auditorium, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX Amsterdam.
Date and time: 16 juni 2009, 15.30 hrs.