Stranger Visions 3D-prints people's faces using leftover DNA

Heather Dewey-Hagborg

If you thought 3D-printed faces were disturbing enough on their own, just imagine if someone was able to reconstruct your face without you knowing. Heather Dewey-Hagborg, a Brooklyn-based information artist, has done just that with some DNA scraped from a piece of gum left on the street in her Stranger Visions project.

But before you freak about this being some kind of impossible CSI forensic magic, these facial reproductions are not perfect. These are just possible faces of actual individuals based on their gender, eye-color, and maternal ethnicity. Whew!

With just a few bits of DNA taken from a discarded cigarette butt or strands of hair lost to the wind, Heather can reconstruct what that person’s face may look like. She does this by running the DNA samples through a piece of facial-modeling software she wrote herself and by printing the resulting bust with a 3D printer.

According to Heather, there’s only a slim chance that any of the sculpture would fully match the person’s actual face, but even with a few discrepancies in hair and eye color, the reproduced model can be eerily accurate, as evidenced by Heather’s own self portrait.

Heather Dewey-Hagborg

It’ll still probably be a decade before the government has a registry of everyone’s DNA face along with predicting pre-crime. But this definitely makes you think twice about how much of yourself you are leaving behind wherever you go between fingerprints, skin flakes, and chewing gum.

[Stranger Visions via Co.Exist]

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