Sean Burgess



Genetic engineering has become increasingly prominent in recent years. GMOs have become a common occurrence in the food we eat, while studies conducted on human genetics and chromosomes have shown to identify underlying causes of various disease. There are both positive and negative associations with this rapidly advancing technology. While there are advantages to manipulating human genetics, such as eradication of various diseases, there is a clear moral dilemma in regards to ethics and approaching the matter with appropriate caution.

In order to assist the viewer in better understanding such a contentious topic through these symbols, the form of a chromosome was chosen as a container. Chromosomes contain all of the genetic information stored in living organisms. They are a fundamental in understanding how living organisms work and change. Additionally, the symbol’s meanings relate to the visual form of chromosomes as seen from under a microscope.

Winner globalmurmurs 16/17

Jury Statement

The project “Genomics” by Sean Burgess deals with GMOs (genetically modified organisms), using recombinant DNA methods, gene modification, and transgenic technology. This current and polarizing topic questions social, political, economic, ethical, and moral values of our society. Is this really the way we, as citizens, want to optimize, control, manipulate and shape our world? Burgess applies the principles of genetic modeling to the visual form of his project. He modifies a simple structure into a complete set of diverse and variable iterations, creating increasingly complex constructions. As a “creator,” Burgess strictly follows a systematic, precise, and minimal approach that is dominated by a characteristic diagonal orientation.

Each symbol is described by a disciplinary terminology of genetics. It is supplemented with a term of mundane language to enable a layperson to grasp the full understanding of the concept. As an example, one of the symbols is called “Trisomy and Error,” and another is called “In Vitro and Design.” The jury was particularly impressed by the clarity and abstraction in his visual scheme. The outstanding qualities of Sean Burgess’ work are the analytic and visual approach, the clear exploration of symbolic elements, and its elaboration and execution.

Sean Burgess

Sean Burgess was born in Jacksonville, Florida, to a military family. He spent his early childhood moving across the country to California and then back to his family’s hometown in North Carolina. Interest in design as a teenager led him to serving in the military as a Mass Communication Specialist, exposing him to various forms of design and production. He currently resides in the mountains of North Carolina, pursuing design as both a passion and career choice.