The Intervention

Between the Lines uses DNA data storage, an emerging technology that allows digital information to be encoded and stored within synthetic DNA. The synthetic DNA is used to permeate the administrative systems of the UK border regime.

The project relies on the participation of the pen recipients (selected due to their decision making power in the design and implementation of the UK border system) to embed the lived experiences of individuals most impacted by the UK border regime into the administrative systems that govern them, using the pen and DNA-infused ink contained in each package.

The following sections outline the process behind the creation of Between the Lines.

Testimonies from individuals with lived experience of navigating the UK border regime are collected and compiled into digital format.

The digital information is converted into binary data (1's and 0's).

Binary data is encoded into DNA nucleotides (A, C, G, T).

Scientists at Twist Bioscience synthesise DNA strands according to the sequence produced.

Synthetic DNA is sent back in dried form inside a small, sealed metal capsule.

The dried DNA is extracted from the metal capsules and added to writing ink.

The ink is injected into clear, acrylic pens.

The pens are distributed to individuals involved in the design and implementation of the UK border system.

Pens are received by the elected individuals, along with a manual and letter inviting them to be the new keeper of the pen, should they choose to accept the responsibilities it carries.

The recipient scans a QR code and is taken to an online form outlining the terms and conditions of the pen and allows them to anonymously register as it's Keeper.

The new keeper is requested to use the pen when carrying out their decision making responsibilities.

DNA within the ink transfers to the paper and the lived experiences of those impacted permeate the administrative systems that govern them.