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Education Science

DNA Sculpture Constructed with Shopping Carts 145

Roland Piquepaille writes "The U.K. supermarket chain Somerfield decided last year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA in an original way. It commissioned British artist Abigail Fallis to create a sculpture of a DNA double helix made of shopping carts and to display it during the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign of 2004. The sculpture, named DNA DL90, is 31 feet high and weighs more than three tons. It is on display since April 2004 at "Sculpture at Goodwood," the 21st century British sculpture park in Surrey. This photo gallery contains several pictures of this original artwork."
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DNA Sculpture Constructed with Shopping Carts

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  • by buzzoff ( 744687 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:34PM (#9177437)
    That would be awesome!
    • If we knock it over (cordite) and then set it in motion (semtex) I'd say the answer is yes. (end up in prison)
    • It rolls, but it squeaks and the front left nucleotide-cart gets stuck at a right angle.
    • NO. I speak from expereince. there are 2 versions of this artwork. The outdoor / fullsize version which is mentioned in the article, and one made from childrens shopping trolleys which is roughly 12 foot tall. At the London Marathon Exhibition / Registration last month (which I'm involved with) Muscular Dystrophy Campaign used the smaller one on its stand (The trolleys were filled with Rupert Bear beanies (very very cute)). And it don't roll, infact it took 7 of us 30 minutes to work out how to get it to s
  • by Guano_Jim ( 157555 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:34PM (#9177444)
    Yes, obviously they built their webserver out of shopping carts too.

  • by Valar ( 167606 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:34PM (#9177451)
    I believe this might be an all time low.
  • by MrIrwin ( 761231 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:35PM (#9177455) Journal
    .....just think how many coin refunds you could get taking that lot back to the trolly park.

    And who said modern art isn't worth a dime!

    • Man, I wish they did that in the US.

      Instead (oof) they just added (ugh) this stupid (c'mon, move) locking wheel (dammit) to the cart. If it goes out of range (ow!) of the store (umph) then the wheel locks.

      Of course, sometimes the wheel locks inside the store too., and sometimes it just breaks and locks permentantly...

      But at the very least (kick) no one is would ever try and (let go of the wheel already!) steal one...

      • They introduced these same shopping carts at the new Ralphs super store near my house. For while the tell tale black shopping carts where never seen outside the store. I was happy but the guy who collects the carts and sells them back to the stores was not. After about a year though the carts started appearing. I don't know what sort of mechanism they use, but I would assume there is some sort of battery in the cart somewhere. And it, well, yeah, died.
  • BAH (Score:5, Funny)

    by Giant Ape Skeleton ( 638834 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:37PM (#9177478) Homepage
    I am constructing a shopping cart from polymerized strands of my own DNA!

  • by Psymunn ( 778581 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:38PM (#9177487)
    Man, the safeway down the road must be really pissed...
  • Piquepaille (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <> on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:38PM (#9177493) Homepage Journal
    Is this guy the new JonKatz? Two of his stories on the front page pimping links to his weblogs where he has his own advertising. And he submitted them himself!

    • Re:Piquepaille (Score:5, Informative)

      by pavon ( 30274 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:53PM (#9177623)
      I know, he has had an awful lot of submissions [], most of which are for stories on his own blog.

      On one hand, it it nice that his site is effectively a mirror that can actually take the slashdotting, whereas many of the original sources wouldn't be able to. But it still rubs me the wrong way.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @07:02PM (#9178249)

        Its not "his site"

        Its Radio Userland's site AKA AKA the company that Dave Winer [] founded. Winer is the RSS / OPML / XML guy who is now at Harvard.

        Piquepaille == spammer []. Instead of using email to spam [], he spams [] sites like Slashdot (and many others) using his blog.

        Piquepaille == scammer []

        Here is a direct quote from Piquepaille's Blogads advertising entry:

        My stories are often mentioned by Slashdot, BoingBoing or Nanodot. Smart Mobs and Mindjack Daily Relay are also sites where I put summaries of my stories, giving this blog a traffic of 150,000 visits per month. So if you have an interesting technology to promote, put your ads on this blog.

        Why doesn't he just say "So if you want to associate yourself with a spammer [], give me your money."?

        Ignore the fact that he has no "stories" of his own, offers no original content and zero insight.

        Like most spammers [], he has no incentive to stop because it's profitable for him to spam [] Slashdot and other sites.

        Make it unprofitable. Stop visiting his weblog. Express your displeasure to the editors. Express your displeasure to Radio Userland (they are a quiet participant in his spamming [] since Userland has a small ad on the blog). Express your displeasure to the advertisers. Let them know you won't buy products they advertise there. Last of all, express your displeasure about his spam [mailto] to Piquepaille himself.

        You make Piquepaille's continued spamming [] possible with your traffic.

        (As for all the spam [] references in this post, some might call it poetic justice. Maybe Google will pick it up and let everyone know.)

        • What proof is there that he is a spammer? All of his /. stories are opt-in, since the editors chose to accept them. According to Wikipedia [] and all the other definitions of blog spam that I've seen, he would only be a blog spammer if he persistently posted links to his site to increase his Google ranking... and you have not demonstrated this. He may an unoriginal hack who desperately tries to boost his blog's popularity by linking to interesting stories. He may be looking for advertisers to target visito
  • by Giant Panda ( 779279 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:39PM (#9177498) Journal
    There's this big ravine near where I live that the kiddies like to push shopping carts into. Looks a lot like this "sculpture" except ours is a longer sequence...
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:39PM (#9177501) Homepage
    This is truly amazing. Maybe I should submit my project to Slashdot - a giant diagram of the Linux filesystem... made out of old mayonaise bottles and ketchup packets.
    • This is truly amazing. Maybe I should submit my project to Slashdot - a giant diagram of the Linux filesystem... made out of old mayonaise bottles and ketchup packets.

      You know, if you build it...
    • Re:Wow (Score:3, Funny)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
      I don't know which is more disturbing, the thought of how plausible it is that some geek somewhere is reading this same comment and instead of snickering, shouting "BRILLIANT!" or how equally plausible it is that someone, somewhere, has already done this.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    With the commercialization and patents of DNA, it is symbolically appropriate to make the sculpture out of shopping carts.
  • by fraccy ( 780466 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:44PM (#9177546) Homepage
    That reminds me of the scene following an incident in which I was involved. The police report identified that particular factors contributing to the accident included too much coffee, a trolley with a wonky wheel, and a special offer on pork pies at the far end of a crowded aisle..
  • "ART! ART! ART!" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ashitaka ( 27544 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:45PM (#9177554) Homepage
    Gonzo on an old Muppet show banging on a brick with a hammer.

    About sums it up.

    Does this piece challenge our materialistic preconceptions of the world of science and commerce and force us to re-evaluate our relationship with that which forms the core of our self-determined being?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Does this piece challenge our materialistic preconceptions of the world of science and commerce and force us to re-evaluate our relationship with that which forms the core of our self-determined being?


    • That depends on whether you have ever smashed a shopping cart to pieces with a sledgehammer for the sheer satisfaction it can provide.

      In short, No.

    • As long as there are absolutely no follow-up questions, yes. Yes it does.
  • Shopping (Score:3, Funny)

    by scrotch ( 605605 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:45PM (#9177561)
    Because shopping is programmed into core biology...
  • They should take pictures in the morning of the mutated DNA straind that is Homeless Erectus. I am sure all those shopping carts are a magnet for the vagrants.

    Seriously though, how much money was wasted on this. I don't even think it looks like DNA. It looks like a double helix of shopping carts. It was a complete waste of time, shopping carts, and my break.

  • by jlowery ( 47102 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:48PM (#9177581)
    What's next, a giant buckminsterfullerene of laundry baskets?
  • It commissioned British artist Abigail Fallis to create a sculpture of a DNA double helix made of shopping carts

    Who here couldn't have designed this? The pictures really don't seem to demonstrate any originality on the artist's part IMO if that really was the commission given to him.

    • People are always looking at modern art and saying " I could have done that!" Well the answer is: but you didn't. That's the difference between you and an artist, and why we need artists.

      BTW, the artist in question here is female.

      FWIW, I think it's pretty cool, but then, I tend to like modern art anyway.

      • First, that's a bit of a logical falacy. Just because I didn't do it doesn't mean I couldn't do it. Programmers get commisioned to do their 'craft' all the time, some produce high quality results and others don't. In addition, some requirements are so strict that anyone from a monkey to a 30-year veteran would produce nearly identical results.

        I guess my point is that given the problem "create some sort of helix -- like DNA -- made out of shopping carts" you couldn't hardly do anything other than what she

  • by MMHere ( 145618 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:52PM (#9177612)
    Check out this helix sculpture [], which is located outside the Linus Pauling House in Portland, OR.

    The chemis spent his teen years in this house; the sculpture is located right outside his bedroom window where he had his first lab.

  • I don't know art, but I know what I like, and this, I don't like. Honestly, why take something that is naturally beautiful and represent it using something so ugly?
  • by Nakito ( 702386 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:55PM (#9177637)
    And pardon me if you think that comments about submissions are off-topic, but once again, there are way too many hyperlinks in the submission. I do not need to know the web address of the supermarket chain's corporate headquarters, or the charity's corporate headquarters, or the event campaign's home page, or the sponsoring gallery's home page, or even the artist's home page. I just want to see the damned shopping cart helix. Pardon me for sounding like a curmudgeon, but nine times out of ten, I am only interested in one link: the link to the subject of the submission, not every related entity (which I can ferret out from the aricle if I really want to). Am I the only one who thinks so?
  • what the hell do shopping carts have to do with DNA?

    someone has quite a bit of time on their hands, eh?
  • I was looking forward to being really impressed by her skills as an artist, and to see something clever done with shopping trolley's. It's just a frame with the trolley's hung off it! That's lame!!

  • Very unimaginative. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Performer Guy ( 69820 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @06:04PM (#9177714)
    Wow, I thought... DNA sculpture & shopping trolleys, this might be interesting. Then I get to the sculpture images and it's about the most unimaginative uncreative version of such a sculpture I could possibly imagine. A total waste of time and metal.
  • I think she needs more to do. Anyone who designs a Double Helix out of shopping carts, A) has to be a woman, and B) needs more of a life. Of course on the other hand, here I am writing a note about her.. online... and there you are reading it
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Monday May 17, 2004 @06:09PM (#9177752) Homepage Journal
    Red-Red-Red codes to only a single protein, as does Blue-Blue-Blue. Worse, I'm not sure Blue is the valid opposite base-pair to Red. This renders the whole structure genetically useless!
  • Just wait before the thing is loaded with garbage trown in,
    and no one wil ever want to walk past it.
    .. Ahhh modern art .. full of hidden sides.

    However I still prefer the clasic 'brick' [] art... one word: 6.
  • Call me a troll, but I find this "work of art" to a freakin' waste of the artist's time as well as my own. Congrats.. You took some shopping carts and linked them up. ( an unoriginal way, I might add.) I'm suprised this made it to the /. frontpage. But hey.. If you thought that was impressive, you should see strand of DNA built from soda cans!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is a single helix with two sides. DNA is a double helix, which is different.

  • Look at that thing! It's just a giant leaf collector [] waiting for fall to come around. I don't want to be the one cleaning it every two weeks.
  • by Jtheletter ( 686279 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @06:19PM (#9177840)
    Not to get into an argument on what is art, or start some pretentious troll, but as a work of art this thing sucks.

    I mean seriously, she was given an interesting project (DNA representation) and certainly an original and interesting medium, and all we get is shopping carts welded to a stick-figure style double helix frame. It's boring and unimaginative as hell.

    On the whole, yes it came out nice and it is engaging visually, but I feel like there could have been a lot more interesting variations on this. Perhaps build the helix itself out of carts, rather than just stick them on a prebuilt frame. Maybe use cables to create a self-supporting tension structure. Actually cut up some of the carts with a plasma torch and use the pieces to create individual molecules (G T C A) on the helix, there's lots of interesting structures to be built with the steel grids and wheels and legs, etc.

    To me it seems like the end-result of this project was something that could have been built by any welder given the task "make a DNA helix from shopping carts." It was interpretted 100% literally by the artist and doesn't seem to convey any sense of insight, elaboration, or conceptual development.

    • "Actually cut up some of the carts with a plasma torch and use the pieces to create individual molecules (G T C A) on the helix, there's lots of interesting structures to be built with the steel grids and wheels and legs, etc."

      I like the cutting idea. You could cut the cart one way to produce the two molecules for a GC pair and another way to produce a TA pair. So if the left half of a cart represents G and the right half of a cart represents C, you've got a visual reminder that the two molecules are al

  • Damn, European (erm, british?) shopping carts look funny.
  • Great idea... beautiful art...

    But who the hell calls shopping carts "shopping trolleys?"

    I mean really...

  • i have read more interesting things in those ads they have in the stalls in the restrooms at the mall.
  • Appreciation for Art (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GoRK ( 10018 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @06:56PM (#9178210) Homepage Journal
    I can generally appreciate art, especially sculpture. It genearlly takes quite a bit of skill to produce a large outdoor installation like this even if I don't like it.

    But this? This is shit. It's not so much that it's made of shopping carts, but it's more that it looks like a jungle gym and the baskets are just going to fill up with leaves and trash. I can hardly believe that such a work was actually *commissioned* without seomeone thinking of this.

    It's kind of like how the city I live in has recently taken to painting all of the new highway overpasses an earthy red color. I can appreciate that lots of people think that it looks nicer than bare concrete, but for what it costs, the only thing it really buys you is the need to repaint it again in 5-10 years at an equivalent (or greater) cost. If they really wanted red overpasses, they should have done it properly and dyed the concrete red to begin with.
  • ... is going on here then?

    The pure arrogance of the commission beggars belief...

    - not only are UK supermarkets pushing all the local grocers out-of-business so we only have one place to go to for all our essentials (supermarkets!)

    - not only are they forcing us to have 'loyalty cards' (secret tracking cards to you and me) so they can track what we buy and then use it to shove junk mail through our letter box and put up the prices of our favourite goods and make secret pay-offs to jam jar poison

    - but now

  • Disappointing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Monday May 17, 2004 @07:15PM (#9178407) Journal
    "Sculpture of DNA using shopping carts" is an interesting idea, but this is about as boring an implementation of it as I could imagine. In particular, the shopping carts aren't doing anything - it could have equally well been a scuplture of DNA using rocking chairs, old tires, washing machines, small bushes, whatever.

    Shopping carts slide into each other, so they have a natural way of connecting. Add some extra twiddles so you have four types, such that only some pairs can slide into each other and you can use the shopping carts as the nucleotides.

    This sculpture is supported by a single central column (absent in DNA) but is missing the two helical backbones. It isn't so much that this is less accuate, but it is also less interesting (but undoubtedly cheaper and structurally simpler.)
    • They should have motorized it and turned it into a ride. You could have kids sitting in the carts as they spin, rise, and come back down. Oh and all the mothers screaming when they see that you've put their kids on some shopping cart piece-de-resistance.

      According the the article, this is some kind of Fallis-symbol.

  • Some bum is gonna try to steal a cart and will take a bottom one since those are easier to get to. Then the whole damn thing is gonna fall over.
  • DNA has a major groove and a minor groove. This doesn't.
  • I wanted to make a sculpture of a shopping cart out of DNA.
  • by maximilln ( 654768 )
    Speaking of DNA, and gametes, and protein strands..

    In Massachusetts two guys can get tax credits and social security benefits for banging each other in the butt...

    And I still can't smoke a doobie legally. WTF?
  • ... yet again that people have too much time on their hands. That, and Germans love David Hasselhoff.
  • Watson and Crick did not discover DNA and the comment that this is the 50th anniversary of DNA's discovery is BS. Their Nobel prize came from discovering the structure of DNA.

    DNA's role in passing along genetic information was discovered ten years earlier by Osgood Avery - who should have received a Nobel prize, but the committee was to timid to award him one.

  • Okay - I'm really trying to see the point here.

    The best I have come up with in my two or three minutes of pondering is the idea that life has become cheap - essentially that DNA is now like a commodity at a supermarket.

    If that's not it - I'm stumped.
    • The best I have come up with in my two or three minutes of pondering is the idea that life has become cheap - essentially that DNA is now like a commodity at a supermarket.

      No, I think that's it. -Except I somehow doubt the commissionaires saw this creepy little metaphor. I can't imagine that they did; why advertise such a horrific thing unless they were deliberately trying to force the public into submitting to the idea?

      Somehow, I don't think the fine gents in charge of grocery store chains are entir

  • Dear Anonymous Coward,

    This is not the first time that someone like you writes a virulent comment about myself and my blog. I decided today it was time to answer, even if my comments are buried in the middle of many others, and if I doubt it can change your point of view.

    First, you say there is no original content. on my bog. You really chose the wrong day to say this. Where in the press have you read about this DNA sculpture made from shopping trolleys? Do your own search and you'll be surprised.


  • It's boring as shit. It's ugly as shit. And the artistic metaphor is bang on.

    Think about it.

    I mean, where other than the grocery store giants does the average 'consumer' (and what a delightfully disgusting word) come in contact with more genetically messed-with stuff? Nowhere. If you are alive, then you've probably ingested a Monsanto product or ten over the last week!

    DNA modified for the purpose of selling bullshit, ugly product to bullshit, ugly consumers.

    I'd love to talk to 'Abigail Fallis' about
    • Trolled into dust again for pointing out the obvious?

      Since when did Slashdot moderators turn into a bunch of patriotic numb-skulls? The Bush clan is KILLING America! --And Americans, for that matter. How many kids have been murdered and mutilated in Bush-boy's idiotic, false war which the world begged him not to jump into? People with brains KNEW it was going to turn into this, -and worse.

      The American death toll is climbing into the 1000's, and if you damned fools don't pull your heads out, the Middle
  • Am I the only one reminded by this of Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man []?

    For those not familiar with the story, Death gets outsourced. In the ensuing chaos, shopping trolleys appear as the larval stage of a city-eating mall.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...