Credit: Michael Sides

Between the Lines

Sarah Selby (GB)

Honorary Mention

Between the Lines is an innovative project that aims to weave the personal experiences of individuals subjected to the UK border regime back into the systems that govern them. By combining traditional administrative tools of pen and paper with cutting-edge DNA data storage technology, the project infiltrates the bureaucratic systems of the UK Border Regime.

Today’s border regime is a techno political system that stretches beyond geographic boundaries, increasingly deploying artificial intelligence and automated decision-making algorithms on a global scale. These systems rely on the quantification of human experiences, reducing them to mathematical formulas and transforming individuals into statistical risk ratings.

Credit: Sarah Selby

During the interventions, individuals subjected to the UK border regime record their testimonies and experiences, which are then converted into binary data and encoded into synthetic DNA. The synthetic DNA is mixed with writing ink and injected into pens, which are then distributed to the frontline administrative workers of the UK border regime.

As the pens are used, the synthetic DNA transfers to the paper, embedding the lived experiences of those impacted back into the bureaucratic system that governs them and subsequently spreading throughout the administrative systems of the UK border regime.

The project seeks to highlight the human experiences behind the numbers and statistics, raising public awareness of the dehumanizing nature of the border regime. Through its creative interventions, the project aims to create a sense of shared responsibility towards upholding the rights and dignity of all individuals impacted by the border regime and promote a more compassionate and inclusive understanding of immigration policies.


Artist: Sarah Selby
Cari Hyde-Vaamonde (
Beyond Detention (
Twist Bioscience (

Science Gallery London in collaboration with Future Everything as part of 2023 Season: ‘AI: Who’s Looking After Me?’ exhibition. (


Sarah Selby (GB) is a visual artist and academic who uses software, programming, and emerging technologies to explore digital culture, posing critical questions about its societal, ethical, and environmental ramifications. Her work concentrates on human-machine assemblages, examining how different technologies mediate our behavior, interactions, and experiences.

Jury Statement

The nation-state concept of regulated immigration is executed through the border regime of individual states. Increasingly, artificial intelligence and automated decision-making algorithms are used to quantify human experience, transforming individuals into statistical risk ratings. Between the Lines takes advantage of these very technologies to hold a mirror up to the border regime and ultimately to political decision-makers. The idea of transforming the testimonies and experiences of individuals affected by the border regime into binary data to be injected into pens for border regime officials in the form of synthetic DNA mixed with writing ink is ingenious: The purpose of the concrete use of technology is deciphered by the use of this very technology. At the same time, this is intended to trigger a process of reflection among the actors of the border regime and, in the best case, among the political decision-makers. In the case of the use of the pens by the officials of the border regime in their work, the personal experiences of those affected in the past become part of the bureaucratic system. The longer this system works with and through the addressed technology, the more it spreads the experiences of its affected persons. All this is based on the latest technology in data storage, the “DNA Digital Data Storage.”

View full Jury Statement here.