In the year 2013 it’s almost impossible to know how much personal data we accumulate every day and even harder to know who has unbridled access to this information.
Heather Dewey-Hagborg refers to herself as an ‘Information Artist,’ and she wants you to think about the footprint you leave behind; not just your Internet usage, cell phone records, or your banking activity, but also your DNA and genetic code.
At a presentation in Brooklyn, Heather displayed a few of her 3D printed portraits, along with the actual sample her portrait was based on and a picture of the sample site.
Heather’s process may be complicated, but it takes just 2-3 weeks to complete a portrait.
Heather admits her 3D portraits are not one hundred percent accurate, comparing them more to a family likeness or the result of an amateur sketch artist.
But human DNA does provide information about a person’s physical traits, giving her enough information to piece together a face eerily similar to the original source.
Heather’s DNA portraits of strangers raise questions about privacy and Heather says, ‘that’s just the point.’
On the day I spoke with Heather, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that it was illegal to patent human genes, a decision she happily applauded.
Genetic surveillance is a relatively new concept, but it could have dramatic repercussions in various professional fields, including law enforcement, a concept Heather is not fully comfortable with.