heather dewey-hagborg creates 3D portrait sculptures using DNA samples heather dewey-hagborg creates 3D portrait sculptures using DNA samples
jan 29, 2013

heather dewey-hagborg creates 3D portrait sculptures using DNA samples

heather dewey-hagborg creates three-dimensional portraits using DNA samplesimage © dan phiffer



through an un-usual DNA collection method, american artist heather dewey-hagborg creates portrait sculptures from the analyses of genetic material collected in public places. from cigarette butts to hair samples, she works using random traces left behind from un-suspecting strangers. in a statement by dewey-hagborg,  ‘stranger visions’ calls attention to the impulse toward genetic determinism and the potential for a culture of genetic surveillance. using DNA facial modeling software and a 3D printer, physical models are conceived – reconstructed from ethnic profiles, eye color and hair color.

three-dimensional portrait from DNA sampleimage © dan phiffer

three dimensional figures conceived from DNA gathered on githubimages courtesy heather dewey-hagborg

process showcasedimage © dan phiffer

process showcasedimage © dan phiffer

DNA hair sample collection at siteimage © thomas dexter

petri dish DNA samplesimage courtesy heather dewey-hagborg

(left) bushwick – adonis grocery, 209 wilson ave, (right) DNA sample from haplogroup: H1+16189 (spanish, berber, lebanese) sample 10images courtesy heather dewey-hagborg

(left) bushwick – laundromat, himrod st, (right) DNA sample from haplogroup: H2a2a (eastern europe, near east) sample 12images courtesy heather dewey-hagborg


(left) sample 10, (right) sample 12images courtesy heather dewey-hagborg

heather dewey-hagborg with 3D headimage courtesy heather dewey-hagborg

  • creepy!

    ezrin mn says:
  • that’s pretty damn scary

    dbkii says:
  • It could used by police, just for make a portrait of the person of interest…

    Mario says:
  • So is this art or science
    if you put it in a frame is the science art ???????????????
    an intellectual exercise perhaps
    but beyond that…. I think not
    more safe artsy-fartsy

    Paedra says:
  • Software that extracts a facial model from DNA: I fail to believe this. It is an artistic interpretation that just uses the few elements that can be read from the DNA: eye color, hair type and ethnicity. The owner from the DNA could be looking totally different then the 3D modeled head.

    Airborne says:
  • I think the first three people who left a comment did not understand. The software is not capable of reconstructing a face from the DNA. The artist just creates a random face (probably with an of the shelf 3D facial generator) and chooses the eye color, hair type and ethnicity. It’s SCi-Fi with some reality in it.

    Airborne says:
  • This is entirely fake. DNA can not provide information on what someone will look like, just their race. If you’re curious, the software used to do this is called FaceGen – and is most often used in videogames.

    Nick says:
  • is good

    sharah says:

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