Eating My Data, 2022

How is cultural knowledge learned and passed down through food? What is our relationship to home and diaspora through the lens of DNA? How might family stories transcend the bounds of traditional media? What affordances do science and technology offer in this space of preserving family histories?

Eating My Data is a speculative short film investigating the intersection between DNA data storage and Chinese immigrant food narratives. At its core, it is a meditation on technology’s ambitious role in encoding personal data inside DNA and follows the process of storing the artist’s own family immigration story within the genetic makeup of rice. It is a critical, creative response to research on the implications of DNA data storage. The project presents a what-if scenario, asking viewers to think critically about the role of technology in producing foods, preserving culture, and representing diasporic identities.

MFA Design and Technology Thesis
Parsons School of Design

Special thanks to John Sharp, Jamie Keiles, Clarinda Mac Low, Barbara Morris, Anthony Dunne, Fiona Raby, Xin Xin, Harpreet Sareen, Dr. Michael Purugganan (and The Plant Evolutionary Genomics Research Group at NYU), Dave Jackson (and his research group at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory), Dr. Fe Beaudry, Alice Yuan Zhang, Calvin Eng, Olivier Brückner, An Kong, Scott Brower, NYC Chinatown Community, and the staff at Tonii’s Fresh Rice Noodle. I would also like to thank my family for their endless support, encouragement, and openness to my ideas.

Wesley Chau is a designer and educator based in New York. He works across a range of industrial design, digital media, and creative research practices. Wesley holds an MFA Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design and BFA Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design. Available for freelance and collaborative work. CV / Email