Our DNA is everywhere, in things we have touched as well as places we’ve been. Thanks to modern technology, our scattered DNA remains can be easily analyzed, revealing information about our unique genetic makeup. US-based artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s latest project is based on this idea. Titled Stranger Visions, it includes a series of stunning human-like sculptures built using genetic material collected from public places.
For the project, Dewey-Hagborg examined used chewing gum, hair, fingernails and even discarded cigarette butts, in search of DNA traces that could divulge information about those who left these things behind in the first place. With the help of a highly-specialized technique called DNA phenotyping, the artist was able to physically reconstruct the profile of real people. The results were then used to create incredibly innovative masks of human faces.
While the accuracy of the sculptures with regard to the actual DNA holders is debatable, Dewey-Hagborg points out that the real aim of the project is to bring to our attention the far-reaching consequences of biological surveillance in today’s world. The artist seeks to provoke people into asking questions about surveillance and individual privacy. Stranger Visions emphasizes the stupendous power of genetic testing and its potential ramifications.
To know about Heather Dewey-Hagborg and her various projects, head over to the artist’s official website.