P R I M E R – a foretaste of Chain Reaction!

P R I M E R 2

(c) 2013 Katy Price. All rights reserved.

The Centre for the History of the Sciences and the School of Biosciences are getting very excited about their forthcoming exhibition Chain Reaction! at the Sidney Cooper Gallery (22 November – 21 December).

Here’s a taster of work by Katy Price that will be on show …


Cork boards, pins, primer, Nature, books, paper, type, glue.

Primers are vital to the PCR process: they are custom designed to pinpoint segments of DNA for replication, and they aid the copying process by starting off the chains of letters in copied material. P R I M E R brings the PCR meaning of ‘primer’ into contact with the old fashioned meaning of the word – a book to teach us from the beginning.

(c) 2013 Katy Price. All rights reserved.

(c) 2013 Katy Price. All rights reserved.

Words and pictures from Mother Goose Primer are used to mark out sections from Nature reports of a confusing story about the first known AIDS patient. These reports do not give us any clarity about whether David Carr was HIV positive or whether the samples analysed even came from his body. Fragments from the science journal are combined with cutouts from Mother Goose Primer published in the year of his birth, to create visual poems exploring the unknown story of David. The process of PCR with its ingredients, selections, copying and false moves has a lot in common with the processes of writing and publication, something that David Carr was physically involved with in his trade as a printer.

Visitors are invited to select words and place them in the small tubes which are used to assemble ingredients when performing a PCR experiment. Words from the tubes will be gathered and used to write new poems especially for the Chain Reaction! exhibition.

P R I M E R 3

(c) 2013 Katy Price. All rights reserved.

Katy Price is a poet and performer working with twentieth-century technology. Previous works include ‘Kippered (Edison) Herring’, a poem in two voices recorded on wax cylinder by Aleksander Kolkowski for Phonographies (2010), and Bookmachine (2010), a performance with voice, mutilated books and computer speech.