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.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

One critique of the proposed 1 Monument Square design, raised up one level

The conversation over the design of the proposed movie theater at 1 Monument Square is ramping up again, and will continue to do so as... (more)

Experiences with Uber and Lyft so far?

KGB emails: I was wondering if any of your readers have tried ride sharing locally, and if they wanted to comment on their experiences. I'm... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

Hi there. Welcome to a midsummer weekend's list of stuff to do. Pick a few things that sound fun to you, or just read it... (more)

Morning Blend

Sentencing in murder of Troy official Joseph Vandenburgh -- convicted of fatally stabbing Troy city offical Bill Chamberlain near his home in North Greenbush --... (more)

The return of the blue snowflakes

The Albany Pine Bush is an unusual example of an inland pine barrens, and it's one of the few homes to an unusual inhabitant: The... (more)

Recent Comments

... Great experience. Fast pickup times. I was chatting with one of my drivers about potential Saratoga -> Albany types of drives or similar. He is actually based in Delmar, and said that as a driver, Lyft has a feature that you can pick a fare based on the direction you want to end up in which I thought was interesting. He was driving around all night and lives out in Delmar but ended up more towards Saratoga when he was about to call it quits. His last fare was a drive from Saratoga back towards Albany and got him pretty close to home as well. That makes me feel better about catching a ride to a place further in NY if I happen to need one.

Walking Myrtle Ave, end to end

...has 25 comments, most recently from Burnt My Fingers

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 1 comment, most recently from capgirl

Experiences with Uber and Lyft so far?

...has 8 comments, most recently from Denis virgilip

New York State Bike Summit

...has 1 comment, most recently from ethan

The return of the blue snowflakes

...has 2 comments, most recently from Josh K