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One of two pieces from the show "How Human: Life in the Post-Genome Era," at the International Center of Photography in New York City, from 28 February through 8 June 2002.

genomic cartography:
chromosome 21

(Click image for a detail. Actual size is 8 x 8 feet)

Thirteen million letters of genetic code from chromosome 21. Groupings of letters of genetic code that are known to have a function in the human body are called genes. The darker color depicts sequences of code (called exons) that are known to be used by a cell as the set of instructions for building a protein. These instructions are interrupted by unused pieces of code (introns) which here have a medium coloring. The gray areas have no currently known function.

Chromosome 21 is one of the shortest human chromosomes, yet this image is only one quarter of the 50 million letters of which it is composed. It would take 250 images of this size to depict the genetic code in the entire human genome, which is 3.1 billion letters.

Ben Fry | April 2003 | Last updated November 2003