Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg picks up pieces of litter on the street – chewed up gum, cigarette butts – and sends them to a lab in Brooklyn, extracting all DNA info from it. From there she takes the info and puts it through a computer program she wrote, which takes all the code for physical genetic traits and generates a 3d model of a face to represent them. She adds some “finishing touches” to the model and then exports it for printing on a 3d printer.
January 6, 2013; 12:15pm; 1381 Myrtle ave. Brooklyn, NY; Eastern European; Gender: Male; HERC2 Gene: AA; Eye Color: Brown
January 6, 2013; 12:25pm; Wilson ave. and Stanhope St. Brooklyn, NY; Native American, South American; Gender: Male; HERC2 Gene: AA; Eye Color: Brown
The artist asks, “what are the implications for privacy issues as well as law enforcement? I think these are the major questions. We hear everyday about “digital natives” who don’t know how not to share their private data with the world, but here we all are, shedding hairs, nails, skin, and leaving saliva behind us all the time, without thinking about it as information.”
However, she states, “no one has recognized themselves yet! In reality these in-progress portraits are more of a general likeness, a family resemblance, than an exact depiction.” So then I would say the privacy concerns a little less…concerning! Thankfully. But I love the idea (she had it while in therapy), I love that she wrote the program to generate and process the genetic code (she must really be into DNA) and I think it’s a genius project to redefine “street art”.
Above is the artist with her own self-portrait. Read an interview with the artist here.