There is a widespread and pretty credible theory that Banksy, the notorious street artist whose stunt-art now sells for millions, is really Robert Del Naja. Del Naja, of course, is known to us as 3D, the founding member of the great Bristol group Massive Attack. And while Del Naja will probably never admit to it, he is now pulling some Bansky-ass shit under the Massive Attack banner.
Earlier this year, we all celebrated the 20th anniversary of Massive Attack’s gorgeously brooding 1998 masterwork Mezzanine. And now Del Naja is reissuing the album in incredibly goofy form. Mezzanine will soon be available as spray paint. The group had already encoded Mezzanine as DNA, somehow. According to a press release, these limited spray-paint cans will include “the DNA encoded audio within matt black paint,” and “each can will contain approximately one million copies of the album.” So I guess Mezzanine will go platinum everytime somebody buys one of these cans.
In that press release, Dr. Robert Grass of TurboBeads describes the whole concept like this:
This digital bitstream of the album (0s and 1s) was first translated to 901’065 DNA sequences (A, C, T and Gs), each 105 characters long, and closely following our publication (Grass et al. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015). The 901’065 individual sequences were then chemically synthesised resulting in a synthetic DNA sample, which fully represents the digital bitstream of the album. To enable the mixing of the DNA with the spray can paint and to guarantee information stability, the DNA sequences were encapsulated in synthetic glass fossils (see: here) and then directly added to the spray can. We ensured that every spray can contains at least 0.1 micrograms of the synthetic DNA, which is equivalent to 1 million copies of the album. This is only possible due to the immense data capacity of DNA (about 100 exabytes per gram).
Meanwhile, Del Naja, who has a graffiti background and who has done some of Massive Attack’s art, says, “It’s a creative way to store your back catalogue, although DNA-encoded spray paint is unlikely to be adopted by street artists seeking anonymity.”
I am not entirely clear how you’re supposed to hear the album. As far as I can tell, the music doesn’t play when you’re holding down the spray button.