Mitos: Mitochondrial DNA to Handwoven Patterns

by Sally Kong, 2023

At the core of the project is the significance of the mitochondrial DNA. The mitochondria, unlike other cellular organelles, have their own DNA and are inherited exclusively from the egg cell. This makes the mitochondrial DNA a vital tool in studying matrilineal ancestry and the history of human migration. The choice of weaving as the medium for physical manifestation was inspired by the etymology of “mitochondria”, which is derived from the Greek word “mitos” meaning “thread”. 

There were three main stages to realize this project - mtDNA sequencing, translation, and physicalization. First, I isolated, amplified and sequenced the hypervariable region of her mitochondrial DNA. Then I wrote a Python script to map the nucleotide sequence of the mitochondrial DNA sequence into weaving instructions and patterns, and used the visual effects software Houdini to create and simulate the 3D model of the resulting weaving structure. Finally, I handwove the translated DNA sequence using a Schacht 4-shaft floor loom.

Now I can be embraced by the gift of mitochondrial DNA passed down by my long lineage of mothers. 


Multithreaded is Sally Kong and Owen Trueblood 
making threaded things with computers and robots.