1986 was the first time DNA profiling resulted in a criminal conviction. Bio-technology and surveillance has seen astounding momentum in the 30 years since and Heather Dewey-Hagborg is an American artist who is now taking it to another level. Her work asks questions about privacy and legality in a world where an incredible amount of information can be gained through our DNA.
In the exhibit “Stranger Visions”, Dr. Dewey-Hagborg collects abandoned DNA from strangers around NYC. She analyzes the genetic profile to create life-size, 3D portraits of the person’s face. The exhibit also shows the sample from which the DNA was extracted and the location where it was found. The viewer is left to ponder how much sensitive material we nonchalantly leave behind everyday and how much information can be discovered. We are forced to ask ourselves how we feel about the potential repercussions, imagined as well as the yet unimagined.