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Artist Creates Faces From DNA Left In Public

3D printed faces from DNA code
We leave DNA everywhere we go. From the strand of hair that drifted off our head taking a walk to the lick of saliva left on a glass at your favorite cafe. No matter where you go, your DNA was left somewhere at some point in time.

New York artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg takes advantage of these opportunities by swiping your DNA from the scene and creating a realistic 3D face. Her project, Stranger Visions, is dedicated to just that!

"The idea for the project came from this fascination with a single hair. This turned into a research project for me exploring exactly what I could discover about someone from an artifact they left behind."


Her process starts with finding an object that contains human DNA out in the public, ranging from anything including a piece of gum to a cigarette butt. She then takes a sample of the DNA to Genspace, a community biotechnology laboratory in Brooklyn where she extracts the DNA, purifies it, and uses it polymerase chain reactions.

Once the DNA is extracted, she uses a computer to create a 3D generated model of the face. The results generally do not create an exact likeness to the person the DNA belongs to since the data provided only describes general traits. Using the code, she takes certain pieces of data to create multiple versions of the face to enhance or decrease certain features based on what she finds in the DNA.

It takes about eight hours to print one of the faces. Once printed, the result looks like a block of powder that's then dug out then baked and hardened with a superglue-like substance.

Reactions to the project have been mostly positive while there has also been uncertainty regarding people's intrusion of privacy.

"If people find it to be a little creepy, that's OK. It's meant to make you aware of these issues and make you aware that this is possible."


A full technical write-up of the DNA process is available on her blog.

Posted by Whatevo in Art & Design


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