Angley, Natalie. "Artist Creates Faces from DNA Left in Public." CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 23 May 2014. <http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/04/tech/innovation/dna-face-sculptures/index.html?iid=article_sidebar>.
5. 23. 2014
This article is about a New York artist, named Heather Dewey-Hagborg, who collects things like, cigarette butts and hairs that she finds in public places. Dewey-Hagborg then takes her samples to Genspace, a community biotechnology lab in Brooklyn, and removes the DNA from the saliva on the end of a cigarette. She practices a “standard DNA extraction protocol to mine the DNA, purify it and use it in polymerase chain reactions.” Once the DNA is pure, Dewey-Hagborg uses the stranger’s DNA for her project, which she calls “Stranger Visions”. Dewey-Hagborg creates 3D faces of what the person would look like, depending on the genes in the stranger’s DNA. Dewey-Hagborg explains that, "From a cigarette butt, I can learn where someone's ancestors likely came from, their gender, eye color, hair color, complexion, freckles, their tendency to be overweight and a handful of dimensions of the face as well with a certain likelihood.” After the sequencing information of the DNA has been retrieved, Dewey-Hagborg inserts it into her computer to begin the process of creating a 3D model of a face, which takes around 8 hours to complete. When the face is first produced it is described as, “What looks like a block of powder,” The face is then, “dug out, baked and hardened with a superglue-like substance.” Dewey-Hagborg explains that the faces will not be exact replicas of the stranger, “They'll have things in common with the person, but they won't look exactly like the person," especially since Dewey-Hagborg is unable to detect the age of the stranger, so all of the faces look around 30 years old.
This article is very relevant today because it increases people’s awareness of privacy issues. When I first read this article I felt a little bit violated because I did not want another person create a 3D model based off of my DNA. However towards the end of the article, it explains that, Dewey-Hagborg understands that some people could consider the 3D faces to be a disturbance of privacy, however, “That's also the point. She wants her work to raise questions about genetic surveillance and privacy issues . . . it's meant to make you aware of these issues and make you aware that this is possible."
I really enjoyed reading this article even though it was very unsettling. It really brought to my attention how much knowledge can be deciphered about another person by decoding their DNA. As I was reading the article I noticed that Heather Dewey-Hagborg could create different variations of the faces with the genes from the DNA and I wondered if these multiple combinations of faces had to do with the crossing over of chromosomes, which we learned about in class. I liked how this article incorporated a lot of dialogue with Heather Dewey-Hagborg because it was interesting to hear that she began this project because of the privacy issues that are present in our world today. I thought one of the main strengths in this article that was at the top of the page because it really showed the reader what the 3D faces looked like. I think the author could have done a better job to explain the technical process of how Dewey-Hagborg removes the DNA from a cigarette butt because the way the author explained it was confusing. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this article and found it extremely fascinating.