Artist Constructs Portraits Using DNA from Cigarette Butts Artist Constructs Portraits Using DNA from Cigarette Butts

Artist Constructs Portraits Using DNA from Cigarette Butts

by Jessica Bush Mar 4, 2016

The rapid and unstoppable advancement of technology in today’s society runs parallel to an equally fervent ethical discussion. On one side of the coin, new and ever-improving scientific identification processes used in such things as paternity tests, finger printing, and forensics can be said to have made our world a safer place to live.

On the other side of the coin, it is argued that this increasing ability to extract and process information has compromised individual security, with public surveillance becoming a controversial issue, and individual privacy becoming more and more threatened.

dfc5c6dc79f5abd2f95dca5623061b7dHeather Graham Hagborg is an imagination artist and biohacker whose latest project, ‘Stranger Visions’ brings this contentious issue to light in an eerie and fascinating way. Hagborg collects discarded remnants of human activity from city streets, such as strands of hair, cigarette butts and used chewing gum.

strangervisions8Then, using DNA phenotyping, she is able to glean the genetic information necessary to reconstruct a physical profile of the human being who dropped it. The result is a realistic mask of a human face.

While the accuracy of these masks is near impossible to confirm, Hagborg’s ‘Stranger Visions’ is a hair-raising insight into the power of genetic testing and the ramifications of biological surveillance. Below are some examples of Heather’s sculptural DNA portraits, with a sample of the information found during her process.

EH7-webMtDNA Haplogroup: M48 (North East Indian)
SRY Gene: absent
Gender: Female
rs12913832: AA
Eye Color: Brown
rs4648379: CC
Typical nose size
rs6548238: CC
Typical odds for obesity EH1-webEast Hampton 1
MtDNA Haplogroup: H2a2a1 (Eastern European)
SRY Gene: present
Gender: Male
rs12913832: GG
Eye Color: Blue
rs4648379: CC
Typical nose size
rs6548238: TT
Lower odds for obesity dublin4
MtDNA Haplogroup: H (European)
SRY Gene: present
Gender: Male
rs12913832: AA
Eye Color: Brown
rs4648379: CT
Slightly smaller nose size
rs6548238: CC
Typical odds for obesity dublin3
MtDNA Haplogroup: H2a+152 (European)
SRY Gene: absent
Gender: Female
rs12913832: AG
Eye Color: 56% chance of brown eyes; 37% chance of green eyes; 7% chance of blue eyes.
rs4648379: CC
Typical nose size
rs6548238: CC
Typical odds for obesity _sample6_face_web
MtDNA Haplogroup: D1 (Native American, South American)
SRY Gene: present
Gender: Male
rs12913832: AA
Eye Color: Brown
rs4648379: CC
Typical nose size
rs6548238: CC
Typical odds for obesity _sample4_face_web
MtDNA Haplogroup: T2b (European)
SRY Gene: absent
Gender: Female
rs12913832: AA
Likely Eye Color: Brown
rs4648379: CT
Slightly smaller nose size
rs6548238: TT
Slightly lower odds for obesity _sample3_face_web
MtDNA Haplogroup: L2a1 (African)
SRY Gene: present
Gender: Male
rs12913832: AA
Eye Color: Brown
rs4648379: CC
Typical nose size
rs6548238: CC
Typical odds for obesity _sample2_face_web
MtDNA Haplogroup: H2a2a1 (Eastern European)
SRY Gene: present
Gender: Male
rs12913832: AA
Eye Color: Brown
rs4648379: CC
Typical nose size
rs6548238: CC
Typical odds for obesity

Check out more of Heather’s work at deweyhagborg.com

Images and data sourced from the artist’s website.