Poet Christian Bök's The Xenotext is a poem that has been translated into DNA to be inserted into a bacterium. New Scientist caught up with him as an exhibition of his work opens at the Text Festival in Bury, UK.
Your new project, The Xenotext, is based around inserting poetry into strings of DNA in bacteria. How did the concept come about?
I read a scientific article describing how the lyrics to It's A Small World After All were translated into a sequence of genetic nucleotides, then implanted into a bacterium. I thought that this achievement was amazing, and I thought that it would be a great basis for a poetic experiment. But in every case where scientists or artists have already implanted messages into DNA, it has just been a case of republication [of existing texts].