Press release

The Identity Project launches in Scotland

As part of an ambitious nine-month nationwide season of activity from the Wellcome Trust - exploring who we are and what influences our thinking and understanding of human identity - The Identity Project opens in Scotland with a series of exhibitions, talks and films in Dundee.

The Identity Project launched in November 2009 with ‘Identity: Eight rooms, nine lives’ - a major temporary exhibition at Wellcome Collection in London. Throughout 2010 the project will travel across the country with exhibitions, events and experiments encouraging debate and discussion about how well we will ever be able to know ourselves.

The Dundee events will take place at Sensation at Dundee Science Centre and Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA), launching on 10 February 2010 and continuing throughout the month and beyond, with activities in other parts of Scotland including Edinburgh.

The range of activities in Dundee include: 'Inside DNA', an interactive exhibition all about you, your health, your ancestry and human genetics; 'Animated Minds' - animated films that dispel the myths about mental illness; 'Genetics and Law' - a talk on genetic inheritance and stem cells by geneticist and lawyer Dr Mair Crouch; 'Nature's Great Experiment' - a film exploring the experiences of being a twin; 'Martino Unstrung' - the Scottish premiere of this feature-length film by Scottish film maker Ian Knox, tracing the remarkable recovery of legendary jazz guitarist Pat Martino's recovery from the depths of amnesia. A series of special school events will also take place in February exploring identity, the human body, genetic profiling and fingerprinting.

The timing of the Identity Project is significant. 2010 marks the tenth anniversary of the first genome draft published from the Human Genome Project. Also known as the 'book of life', it promised greater scientific insight into our identity than ever before. As we approach the anniversary of this scientific breakthrough, what has it contributed to our understanding of our own identity?

The Wellcome Trust has awarded over £100 million in grants over the last decade to Dundee, which has significantly contributed to the city's positioning as a world leader for bioscience research. Dundee is home to one of the most exciting life sciences clusters in the UK, with world-class companies, universities, research institutions and scientists all within a three-mile radius. Both of Dundee's universities undertake world-class research activities and collaborations.

Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, says: "The Wellcome Trust supported the sequencing of a third of the human genome. We are now supporting research into understanding how variation in the sequence of the genome between different people is associated with variation in health and disease. This work is identifying inherited differences between people in some of the important pathways that influence the risk of development of conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cancer.

"The Identity Project explores these themes plus many more surrounding our understanding of our identity. Dundee is the perfect host city for the launch of these events and activities in Scotland, given that it has a thriving community of internationally renowned biomedical researchers."

Louise Smith, Acting Chief Executive of Dundee Science Centre, comments: "We're really pleased to be working with the Wellcome Trust on the Identity Project programme in Dundee. Dundee Science Centre's role within our community is to promote a culture of curiosity, confidence and engagement with science and the Identity Project allows our community to explore, discuss and debate what influences human identity. Dundee is a natural destination for the Identity Project given its global reputation for being a hub of bioscience research, and Dundee Science Centre is very excited about the broad programme and range of activities that will take place in Dundee during the coming months."

The Identity Project will continue with events across other parts of the UK, including Newcastle and Bristol, and will culminate in June 2010 with the reopening of the 'Who Am I?' gallery in the Wellcome Wing of the Science Museum in London - on the week the world celebrates ten years since the sequencing of the human genome.

Listings of Identity Project events in Dundee

Inside DNA exhibition
Dundee Science Centre
Until 10 March 2010, 10.00-17.00
An engaging interactive exhibition all about you: your identity, your health and your ancestry. Explore the fascinating field of human genetics.
Free with the standard cost of entry; no booking required.

Animated Minds
Dundee Science Centre
12-15 February 2010,10.00-17.00
A series of short animated documentaries that aim to use dispel myths and misconceptions about 'mental illness', featuring the testimony of people who have experienced different forms of mental distress.
Included in standard admission rate; no booking required.

Also showing during 'Reclaim', 19.00-22.00, Wednesday 10 February; free admission.

Genetics and Law
Dundee Science Centre
13 February 2010, 11.00 and 14.00
A talk and discussion led by Dr Mair Crouch, a geneticist and lawyer, on two important issues: genetic inheritance (11.00 session) and stem cells (14.00 session).
Included in standard admission rate, but booking required.

No man is an island: defining individuality
Infusion coffee shop, Dundee Science Centre
17 February, 2010, 19.00
A talk and discussion with Dr Keith Skene of the University of Dundee. Individuality may seem straightforward to define, but actually it is a hugely complicated issue, with significant repercussions for how we understand ourselves and the rest of the biosphere. This session will delve into the difficulties related to individuality, bringing philosophy and science to the table in order to challenge our thinking on this fascinating issue.
Free admission; no booking required.

Nature's Great Experiment
Dundee Science Centre
23 February 2010, 18.30
A film in three parts, exploring the experiences of twins and (primarily) the mothers of twins, through case studies, interviews, archive footage and drawings. The film will be followed by a question and answer session with the film maker, Jordan Baseman.
Free, but booking required.

Sci-Screen special event: Martino Unstrung
Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA)
18 February 2010, 13.00 & 18.00
A feature length documentary in which film maker Ian Knox and neuropsychologist Paul Broks travel the USA in search of the soul of the jazz guitar legend Pat Martino. Tracing Martino's remarkable return from the depths of amnesia to the peak of artistic achievement, Broks explores the nature of memory, self, creativity and the mysterious brain mechanisms underlying the construction of personal identity. The film will be accompanied by a talk and discussion with the film maker himself. Held by the Tayside and Fife Branch of the British Science Association, kindly supported by the Scottish Government.
Students £2, teachers free of charge.

Schools' and special events Early Explorers - 'All About Me'
Dundee Science Centre
22 February 2010, 10.00-15.00
A special day on which the science centre is dedicated to those aged three to five years. Hands-on exploratory activities and storytelling on the subject of 'Me'.
Special educational rate applies for nursery groups; booking required for groups.

Schools' Programmes for P1-4 & P5-S2
Dundee Science Centre
Explore the human body, DNA extraction, and fingerprint identification through hands-on workshops.
Free of charge for a limited number of schools. 

Ins and Outs of DNA - for S3-6 school groups
Dundee Science Centre
An extended experience for S3-6, including DNA extraction from students' own cheek cells, exploration of the 'Inside DNA' exhibition, and topical discussion and debate about genetic profiling.
There are also Identity season events at the University of Abertay Dundee and the University of Dundee.

Scottish events outside of Dundee

Chameleon exhibition
Inspace, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh
20 May-27 June 2010
'Chameleon' is an interactive video installation that explores the subject of emotional contagion between groups and individuals. It stems from Tina Gonsalves's continuing fascination with human emotion, intimacy and vulnerability.

The project investigates emotional contagion, highlighting how we innately and continually synchronise with the facial expressions, voices and postures of others by unconsciously infecting each other with our emotions. In 'Chameleon', individuals become intimately connected and implicated in varying emotional provocative and reflexive social interactions. The work uses face-reading technology, video and emotional algorithms to assess and respond to the emotional states of the audience. For the audience, the piece reveals the delicate nature of how our emotional state constantly shifts how we make sense of our external and internal world.

For the artist, the project conceptually emphasises how art experiences can allow participants a conduit to explore their own vulnerability, and in doing so, reveal and share emotions, creating more intimate interactions.