ABCD1 is a project by Moises H. Valenzuela, Fabio Rovai and Filippo Rosati presented by Umanesimo Artificiale. It consists in a sonification of the DNA mutations of the ABCD1, gene through artificial intelligence processing, where biology meets sound design and art bridges the natural and the artificial.
ABCD1 is a protein-coding gene, its mutations cause X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy: a rare genetic neurological disease that causes the buildup of very-long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) in the brain. When VLCFAs accumulate, they destroy the protective myelin sheath around nerve cells, responsible for brain function. One of the artists has been diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy over 10 years ago; that’s the reason why this sci-art research project exists. In ABCD1, new expressions of DNA sonification through style transfer AI algorithms are explored, in the form of a stereo sound installation. The result is an alienating and hypnotic left-and-right asynchronous soundtrack. A juxtaposition of sounds: on the left audio the sonification of healthy DNA genes, while on the right audio the sonification of mutated DNA genes.