Know Your Self

Chapbook Publication
Designed by: Carol Lewis and Ava McEntee

Letterpressed by: The Distillers Press, Dublin

Your DNA is precious. Why give it to tech firms for free?

This letterpressed chapbook delves into the complex realm of online DNA testing kits, uncovering the hidden consequences of sharing one’s most personal information – genetic data.

Through bold typography, this publication shines a glaring spotlight on the urgent privacy issues surrounding consumer DNA testing. The chapbook features blocks of letters representing the DNA nucleotides (C, T, G, A), interspersed with jarring excerpts extracted verbatim from the densely coded terms and conditions to which DNA test consumers typically agree without full comprehension.

Accompanying the blocks of code is the evocative poem ‘Inheritance’ by Camille Rankine, which resonates with themes of lost identity and the yearning for familial connection. Printed on 250gsm paper specially bleached to mimic the pale, ghostly image of split DNA strands, the book creates a powerful visual and viscerally unsettling tactile experience.
Know Your Self serves as a critical examination of our society's casual approach to sharing personal genetic data. It raises essential questions about data privacy, informed consent, identity, and human rights in the digital age. The project challenges readers to consider the true cost of uncovering genetic heritage and whether the pursuit of self-knowledge through these means might paradoxically compromise our most intimate essence.

This chapbook stands as a compelling artefact at the intersection of design, literature, and bioethics. It exemplifies how thoughtful graphic design and carefully curated content can illuminate complex societal issues, encouraging readers to engage more critically with the technologies that shape our understanding of self and heritage.
Wicklow, Ireland