3-D Portraits Created Using Human DNA

Baku, February 14 (AZERTAC). There is some creep factor going on here, starting from “finding” gum, cigarette butts and “wads” of hair around NYC, especially the “wads” part. Is there a new neighborhood – Little Wadaly? Ok, I’ll try not to think about that for the moment.

It’s cool that 3-D printing is finding it’s way into art, and really this could be the evolution of police work even if not the intention. Still waiting for that A-Ha moment for commercial printers… hopefully sans wads of hair or the need for any DNA.

Stranger Visions is an art project which tries to determine what we look like based on a single strand of hair.

How much information about ourselves do we leave behind in public, as we shed saliva, hair, and sweat throughout the day? It’s a question that drives the artwork of Heather Dewey-Hagborg, whose project Stranger Visions reconstructs the faces of the anonymous as 3-D printed sculptures, using genetic detritus found in chewing gum, cigarette butts, and wads of hair around New York City.

“I started fixating on this idea of hair and what can I know about someone from a hair,” explains Dewey-Hagborg, a Brooklyn-based information artist. Her faces were determined based on looking at just three traits–gender, eye color, and maternal ethnicity–an admittedly simplified look but still more advanced than police forensics labs which use a kit to determine hair and eye color from a sample. Plugging that information into software she wrote herself, she could spin up different 3-D versions of a face–eventually settling on the ones she finds most interesting aesthetically–and bring them to life with a 3-D printer.

Dewey-Hagborg calls the process "problematic," and she says she hopes her work provokes more of a discussion around subjectivity in both DNA analysis and computer modeling of faces. "It does involve, essentially, creating a stereotype, and generating faces based on those stereotyped ideas, so that’s something I’m hoping to question with this work."

Soon, she hopes to expand the project to include more traits, including freckling and predisposition to obesity.

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