22.02.16 by Staff

Artist Creates Detailed Masks Using Discarded DNA From Chewing Gum and Cigarette Butts


Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates “Stranger Visions” from stuff we discard publicly without a second thought. Gleaning genetic information from things like chewing gum and cigarette butts, Dewey-Hagborg creates detailed masks of what the person might look like, raising questions about privacy and the implications of genetic tampering. See more images and a short video of Dewey-Hagborg discussing her project below.

The video above was co-directed by Emily Sheskin and Veena Rao, with art direction and animation by Eric Rothman.
















Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s Website

Via My Modern Met

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  • Susan S.

    I understand she is trying to make a point, but her project would be a lot more dramatic and perhaps frightening if we knew that the masks she creates actually do resemble the people from who she obtained the DNA. It would be easy for her to demonstrate that they might – for example if she were to create a mask from someone’s DNA that is known (yet unknown to her) and if the mask that resulted from this sample of DNA actually resembled the individual…. Then her whole demonstration would hold a lot more weight. For me anyway.

    • ya i’m not sure that’s possible yet? i think her point is that this will be possible and it’s important to question what this will mean for our privacy

    • I feel like the important role of art is to raise questions rather than give answers – in this instance, the information that the artist gives us and the objects produced are surely enough to raise a number of questions along a broader spectrum than whether or not our faces can be exactly re-generated from our DNA.

      • Susan S.

        Sure, I agree. I guess it is that I come from a science background so i tend to look into things, and looking at her website, I was not even sure if she presented herself as an artist, but looking again, she is, she states she is a “transdisciplinary artist and educator who is interested in art as research and critical practice”

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