By Eleonore Pauwels
Published in Guardian, June 1, 2013
Your DNA is as personal as you can get. It has information about you, your family and your future. Now, imagine it is used – without your consent – to create a mask of your face. Working with the DNA bits left behind by strangers, a Brooklyn artist makes us think about issues of privacy and genetic surveillance.
Heather Dewey-Hagborg, a 30-year-old PhD student studying electronic arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has the weird habit of gathering the DNA people leave behind, from cigarette butts and fingernails to used coffee cups and chewing gum. She goes to Genspace (New York City’s Community Biolab) to extract DNA from the detritus she collects and sequence specific genomic regions from her samples. The data are then fed into a computer program, which churns out a facial model of the person who left the hair, fingernail, cigarette or gum behind. Using a 3D printer, she creates life-sized masks – some of which are coming to a gallery wall near you…Read more