Using DNA to make portraits
POLICE forces will be beating a path to Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s door. She collects stray hair, dropped chewing gum, and discarded cigarettes, extracts the DNA and constructs models of the faces of the comber, chewer and smoker. One say this technology will be used to identify the dog that dropped a packet in the wrong place, the Singaporean who defied the rules and chewed the Bazooka Joe and the man in the balaclava who held up the bank.
From this sequence, Dewey-Hagborg gathers information about the person’s ancestry, gender, eye color, propensity to be overweight and other traits related to facial morphology, such as the space between one’s eyes. “I have a list of about 40 or 50 different traits that I have either successfully analyzed or I am in the process of working on right now,” she says.
Dewey-Hagborg then enters these parameters into a computer program to create a 3D model of the person’s face.” Ancestry gives you most of the generic picture of what someone is going to tend to look like. Then, the other traits point towards modifications on that kind of generic portrait,” she explains. The artist ultimately sends a file of the 3D model to a 3D printer on the campus of her alma mater, New York University, so that it can be transformed into sculpture.
Above all else, this is cracking new for despots and dictators who love statues of themselves. Thanks to Dewey-Hagborg, they can be replicated from a gob of phlegm.