Week 8 The tree in your backyard


“You and the tree in your backyard come from a common ancestor. A billion and a half years ago, the two of you parted ways. But even now, after an immense journey in separate directions, that tree and you still share a quarter of your genes. . . .”
― Richard Powers, The Overstory

Mayfield 4am 凌晨4点 80 x 60cm Niamh Cunningham 倪芙瑞莲2014




Some thoughts on putting things into perspective……

There is only one type of DNA which all animals and plants share. It is not surprising that animals and plants have a large portion of their genes in common. Some key genes that direct metabolic processes in humans are conserved and similar to those found in plants and are recognized as having a common origin.

The four ‘letters’ code for the same amino acids for which all proteins are made. However some amino acids have more than one code which specifies it and sometimes a change of code (mutation) can still result in no change in the amino acid which is indicated. And complicating things further some proteins regulate gene expression – ie the reading of a gene. And sometimes these proteins need help from other proteins to regulate genes (transcriptional co factors) and there are other proteins whose sole function is to regulate other proteins (EYA proteins).  

 Calculations for similarities and differences in DNA are done differently.  When comparing an entire genome , DNA segments may have been deleted , duplicated over and over , inserted from one part of the genome to another….


When it comes to life it is easier to quantify similarities than differences.


Memory Palace of Trees 2020 is an ecological art practice which invites your participation to tell a story (or give some kind of information) about trees. It is a social enquiry of how to live better with the planet and with people. You are cordially invited to tell me your story of a tree or trees. (email : niamh@niamhcunningham.com) I would love to hear from you . Each week throughout 2020 a story will be posted with either an artwork already made or perhaps your story will inspire me to make a new work!