The year 2000 was peak hype for DNA.
The race to complete the first genome was exciting and the media was full of
wild speculation that we would now understand everything about the mind and
To use our Gene Forecaster, you cut off a piece of hair and put it in the
disk. This then rotates, sucking your hair inside. You watch it being
processed - first through the smoked glass compartment in the middle (with high tech lab
equipment inside), and then on the monitor screen . Sarah did a brilliant movie for the screen. You watch the hair being magnified and the DNA being
extracted. Sometimes your DNA is then e-mailed to the Child Support agency. It is next
analysed - searching for indicative genes (like good looking in jeans genes). It then
predicts a bit of your future and finally gives you a 3D printout (a fortune cookie).
It was originally put together for
the 'Museum of the Unknown' (part of a series of temporary 'museums' at the Oxo
building, south bank, London). I had been thinking of making a high-tech looking fortune
telling machine ever since finding that visitors to Cabaret mechanical theatre often took
machine very seriously.
its original form the Gene forecaster was 8 foot long (we had a huge room
to fill in the Oxo building). I cut it down to 5 feet long when it arrived
on the pier (see below). As the arcade filled up, it seemed mad to have a
walk-in machine, so I rebuild the exterior, now only 2 feet wide (see
Some of the jokes on the
video are now out of date, particularly nasty nick, from the first big
brother series, but it still has an eccentric charm.