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CRISPR-Cas9 is a technology used to edit harmful genetic mutations. First, the RNA-guided Cas9 protein searches for its matching DNA target. Next, the guide RNA pairs with one strand of the target DNA, and then Cas9 cuts both strands. Finally, the cell’s repair machinery seals up the break by patching in a stretch of healthy DNA.

CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of Light)2 game is an interactive piece. The viewers find themselves inside of a dark environment. In front of them there is a Cas9 protein that serves as a tool to alter the DNA. As a player navigates this compelling virtual environment, s/he will find blue sections of DNA. The goal of the experience is to eliminate the existing blue DNA. Using the CRISPR technique, the protein Cas9 will cut the existing DNA and replace it with an alternative DNA. As the player cuts the pieces of DNA, Rayograms by Man Ray and photographs by Ruth Bernhard start appearing in the background. When the player finishes eliminating the blue sections of DNA, a customized constellation of rayograms will be revealed. 

  • Game goal: Cut all the blue highlighted DNA sections to create a constellation of Man Ray and Ruth Bernhard's photographs.

  • Navigate the environment by clicking and moving your mouse or track pad.

  • Aim for the blue DNA sections and hit spacebar to inject Cas9 protein so they can be cut and reveal a rayogram or photograph on the background. 

      For scientific explanation read above.

Note: For better performance it is recommended to open the game with any browser except Safari

a ray of light

CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of Light)2, 2018

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres, Azadeh Gholizadeh, Chris Collins, and William Robertson

Jennifer Doudna, The Doudna Lab: RNA Biology, University of California, Berkeley; Megan Hochstrasser, Innovative Genomics Institute, University of California, Berkeley

Inspired by Caleb Sandor Taub


Virtual Reality Installation/Oculus Rift

CRISPR-Cas9 constellation is a collage of Ruth Bernhard's photographs and Man Ray's rayograms from the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection.

Eternal pruning of the beautiful mind

Microglia are the primary immune cells of the central nervous system that are in charge of pruning synapses. During synaptic pruning, the brain eliminates extra synapses–brain structures that allow neurons to transmit electrical or chemical signals to another neuron.  Synaptic pruning is thought to be the brain’s way of removing connections in the brain that are no longer needed. In this game, the player has to find the appropriate balance between pruning too much or too little by directing microglia to correctly prune the right amount of synapses. If an inappropriate amount of synapses are pruned away dramatic changes in the environment occur. In the context of “over-pruning”, the sound, color and light are diminished while “under-pruning” results in an intensification of these stimuli. By responding to these environmental cues and directing the microglial cells the player will be able to control of one aspect of synaptic pruning and hypothesize about how these important events might be taking place within the human brain.

  • Game goal: Finding balance by pruning synapses. Over-pruning  results in reducing the sound and light to almost darkness. Under-pruning results in an intensification of light and sound. 

  • Navigate the environment by using arrows on your keyboard.

  • Use your mouse or track pad to select the synapses (glowing white circles) and that will direct microglia to prune. 

       For scientific explanation read above.

Note: For better performance it is recommended to open the game with any browser except Safari

Eternal Pruning of the Beautiful Mind, 2019

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres, Azadeh Gholizadeh, and  Chris Collins

Beth Stevens, The Stevens Lab: Lasse Dissing-Olesen

Special thanks to Caleb Sandor Taub

Stevens Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital and The Stanley Center at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard


Virtual Reality Installation/Oculus Rift

The virtual reality is juxtaposed with Eliot Porter's Intimate Landscapes Portfolio from the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection.

Games can only be played on a computer, not on mobile devices

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