Digital DNA Sculpture

The history of an egg shaped outdoor sculpture made of electronic parts in Palo Alto, California.

In the course of creating this magazine issue, I happened upon a set of photographs on Flickr of an outdoor sculpture clad in electronic parts. Close up, the images were a mix of steam punk, Star Wars, and abstract art. I picked an image to use for the cover of the print magazine then did some research.

Turns out the sculpture has a tumultuous past. The artist who created the work, Adrianna Varella, started the piece in 2000 in her shared garage in Palo Alto only to have a neighbor toss her work out because her welded computer parts looked like trash. Varella started over again and got her work accepted by the city of Palo Alto Public Art Commission for installation in the downtown area. Then the artwork burned down while in city storage. Insurance paid for recreation of the artwork. The owner of the property also had presented the city with plans to redevelop the area. The new plans included a fountain, not the sculpture. Finally in 2005 Digital DNA was installed.

The sculpture is an egg shape, seven feet tall by 5 feet wide, plastered with electronic circuit boards and words and phrases in many languages, for example, Arabic, Russian, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Japanese. You can find the egg at Lytton Plaza near University Avenue & Emerson Street in Palo Alto.

What sealed my interest is this photo, also from Wonderlane on Flickr:


The clash between the close up photos of computer parts with the apparent fact the sculpture sits in front of a mundane pizza parlor is wonderful. Pizza My Heart also happens to make great pizza.

There also is this short video which shows how strangers interact with the sculpture:

Learn More

Digital DNA

Digital DNA (artist page)

Wonderlane Photos on Flickr

This is the first photo in their photostream so click right arrow under this photo to see the other images.

Peter Adams Photography


  • Tim Slavin

    Tim is an award-winning writer and technologist who enjoys teaching tech to non-technical people. He has many years experience with web sites and applications in business, technical, and creative roles. He and his wife have two kids, now teenagers, who are mad about video games.

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