‘Digital DNA’ egg sculpture finally removed

The Digital DNA sculpture in Lytton Plaza
The Digital DNA sculpture before it was removed from Lytton Plaza

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

A seven-month standoff between a New York artist and the city of Palo Alto came to an end this morning (June 21) when a crane removed “Digital DNA,” the 7-foot-tall circuit-board egg sculpture at Lytton Plaza, for a permanent move to Harvard Business School.

An art collector who lives near the egg’s home at Lytton Plaza has bought the egg, but artist Adriana Varella declined to name the buyer or the price.

Varella said yesterday (June 20) that the buyer chose to donate the egg to Harvard “because it’s the best university in the world and he thinks the work should be really recognized there.”

She added that she’s ultimately happy that the egg would have “a nice finish for this whole process,” and hopes that the egg’s new life at Harvard does some justice to the people of Palo Alto who have lost the sculpture.

Earlier this year, Varella was offering the egg for $250,000 through the New York City gallery ARTI.NYC, including restoration. For $500,000 Varella would restore it in 24-karat gold, according to the gallery. “I feel really sad because I think this is public art. It’s a site-specific work and I think it belongs to the space, you know?” Varella told the Post. “This work means a lot for the city because it’s about the identity of the city.”

The city commissioned Varella to build the egg for $9,950 in 2000. Its circuit boards feature phrases about technology etched in different languages.

A 2005 press release said that it offered “a momentary reflection about what we have been building, researching and planning for our software and hardware thinkers.”

Compared to separating children and families

Varella yesterday compared removing the egg from Palo Alto to detaining migrant children separately from their parents, a controversial new practice that President Trump ended yesterday with an executive order.

The city’s Public Art Commission voted in November to remove the egg because of the amount of maintenance it has required.

The city has spent more than $16,000 on repairs of the egg since 2005 and has given Varella several extensions to remove it as she has attempted to fight the removal through legal threats and protest.

Varella plans to give a spoken performance at Lytton Plaza this morning shortly before the egg is removed. She also intends to restore it with gold over time.

“It will be a beautiful gold egg,” she said.

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