Stranger Visions

Heather Dewey-Hagborg DNA self-portrait

Heather Dewey-Hagborg and her self portrait. (photo: Dan Phiffer)

Filed under... well, we're not sure: Heather Dewey-Hagborg -- a PhD student in RPI's electronic arts program -- has been creating 3-D "portraits" based on found DNA. From the statement for "Stranger Visions":

In Stranger Visions artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material collected in public places. Working with the traces strangers unwittingly leave behind, Dewey-Hagborg calls attention to the impulse toward genetic determinism and the potential for a culture of genetic surveillance.

A press release from this March explains how she creates the portraits. The process, boiled down: Dewey-Hagborg collects discarded hair, cigarette butts, and chewing gum. She then takes it back to a lab, extracts DNA from the sample, amplifies certain parts of it, then looks for certain segments that are associated with various physical characteristics. The info then goes through a 3-D modeling program and the portrait is printed on a color 3-D printer.

Her website has a bunch of the portraits, along with photos the samples and where they were collected.

Here's a recent Smithsonian Mag article about the work. And a WSJ article. And a Studio 360 segment (complete with Kurt Andersen DNA mask).

We gotta admit we're skeptical of how accurately a portrait can (currently) be constructed from these DNA samples. But Dewey-Hagborg's comment about "genetic surveillance" is worth thinking about:

Genetic surveillance is the viewing of a person's genetic information without their knowledge or consent. As embodied creatures we leave genetic material around all the time - it's part of what makes us human. We are constantly leaving traces, clues as to who we are. The possibility of genetic surveillance is the possibility of analyzing these artifacts to extract incredibly personal, intimate information - things you may not even know about yourself. Additionally, the potential for genetic surveillance comes form the collection of genetic material in law enforcement, through services like 23andme as well as medical science and the increasing number of databases storing this information.
If I have your genome sequence, theoretically I can do more than just know very personal things about you. I can clone you. I can impersonate you. It's a sci-fi scenario but it is a reality now.

(Cue the Gattaca clip.)

Dewey-Hagborg's will be on display at RPI as part of the electronic arts spring grad show -- May 12, from 6-8 pm in West Hall.

[via Metafilter]

Comments

i'm intrigued and completely creeped out.

If this is true it's amazing and.......FRIGHTENING!

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Albany now has a better sense of how many vacant buildings it has -- and a common starting point for taking on the problem

What's been clear: The city of Albany has a lot of vacant buildings. What's not been clear: Exactly which buildings are vacant, and what's the... (more)

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats + The Head and the Heart at Brewery Ommegang

Another show this summer at Brewery Ommegang: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats + The Head and the Heart on June 5. Tickets go on... (more)

The Decemberists at MASS MoCA

The Decemberists are set to play a show at MASS MoCA June 15. Tickets go on sale this Friday, January 19 -- they're $45 ahead... (more)

What's up in the Neighborhood

Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: the Van Rensselaer Skating Park, the old burying grounds, killed by... (more)

More simple joys of a snowy day

We get actual winter in this part of the world. It's cold. It snows. (Sometimes it snow a lot.) And this time of year can... (more)