HEATHER DEWEY-HAGBORG

DNA portrait

source: deweyhagborg

Heather Dewey-Hagborg is an transdisciplinary artist, programmer and educator who is interested in exploring art as research and public inquiry. Traversing media ranging from algorithms to DNA, her work seeks to question fundamental assumptions underpinning perceptions of human nature, technology and the environment. Examining culture through the lens of information, Heather creates situations and objects embodying concepts, probes for reflection and discussion.

Heather has shown work internationally at events and venues including Ars Electronica in Linz, the Poland Mediations Bienniale, the Science Gallery Dublin, University of Technology Gallery in Sydney, Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam, Jaaga art and technology center in Bangalore, and the Monitor Digital Festival in Guadalajara. She has exhibited nationally at PS1 Moma, the New Museum, Eyebeam, Clocktower Gallery, 92Y Tribeca, Issue Project Room, and Splatterpool in New York City, Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey, and CEPA Gallery in Buffalo among many others. In addition to her individual work she has collaborated with the collective Future Archaeology, with video artist Adriana Varella and with artists Aurelia Moser, Allison Burtch, and Adam Harvey.

Her work has been featured in print in the New Yorker, New York Times, Arts Asia Pacific, Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, Il Sole 24 Ore, Science Magazine, and Time Out New York, on television on the BBC World Service, ZDF in Germany, CNN, Dan Rather Reports and Fuji Television in Japan, on the radio on Public Radio’s Studio 360, and CBS News, and online in the New York Times Magazine, TED, the Guardian, Reuters, the New York Post, NPR, Wired, Smithsonian, Le Monde, Haaretz, The Creators Project, Art Ukraine, Designboom, Capital New York, Artlog, Fast Company, The Verge, Motherboard, the Boston Globe, Fast Company, Huffington Post, Gizmodo and the Daily Beast, among many others.

Heather has given talks at schools, conferences and festivals including Eyeo, the New School, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, the Woodrow Wilson Policy Center, TAGDF Mexico City, and LISA.

Heather has received grants or residency awards from Eyebeam, MOMA PS1, Clocktower Gallery, Jaaga, I-Park, Sculpture Space, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, CEPA Gallery, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

Heather has a BA in Information Arts from Bennington College and a Masters degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. She is currently a PhD student in Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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source: deweyhagborg

In Stranger Visions artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material collected in public places. Working with the traces strangers unwittingly leave behind, Dewey-Hagborg calls attention to the impulse toward genetic determinism and the potential for a culture of genetic surveillance. Stranger Visions, winner of a special mention at VIDA 15.0, has been exhibited locally and internationally at events and venues including: Ars Electronica, Eyebeam, Science Gallery Dublin, the 92Y Tribeca, Clocktower Gallery, Washington Project for the Arts, University of Technology Gallery in Sydney, among many others.
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source: onlinewsj

They are the faces of real people, portrait-like sculptures etched from an almost powdery substance. The eye colors are distinct, the facial contours sharp, even though the artist, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, has never met or seen her subjects.

Instead of using photographs or an art model for her work, Ms. Dewey-Hagborg scoops detritus from New York City’s streets—cigarette butts, hair follicles, gum wrappers—and analyzes the genetic material people leave behind. Ms. Dewey-Hagborg, a Ph.D. student in electronic arts, makes the faces after studying clues found in DNA. “I don’t think I’m creepy, but I could see how someone would think this project is creepy,” said Ms. Dewey-Hagborg, 30 years old, who splits her time between Brooklyn and upstate, where she attends the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “Maybe I’m kind of weird.”

A sculpture in ‘Stranger Visions.’ Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal

Five of her portraits have been displayed at galleries across the city in an exhibit she calls “Stranger Visions,” most recently with a run that ended Feb. 28 at the Clocktower Gallery in Lower Manhattan. The piece has inspired a crew from Technology Entertainment and Design to shoot footage for a documentary.

Ms. Dewey-Hagborg currently is in talks with the New York Public Library for putting the exhibition on display there. It will also appear in a gallery at Rensselaer Polytechnic beginning May 12.

What has struck many isn’t her use of science but her use of art to illustrate obscure research—known as “genetic surveillance,” the technique isn’t new but it remains unknown to many. Her scientific work has been checked by experts, including Eric Rutledge, a biology professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic.

The exhibits have attracted outside interest. She is working with Delaware’s medical examiner’s office to identify bodies. Hal Brown, an assistant medical examiner in Delaware, sent her a case recently after reading about her work. “If she’s looking for samples, she doesn’t have to pick up [stuff] on the street,” Mr. Brown said.

The idea first struck Ms. Dewey-Hagborg while she was sitting on her therapist’s couch, supposedly untangling her own life. She became fixated on a hair twisted in a painting’s crack, trying to figure out how it got there. Therapy could wait.

“I could just envision the person’s hair getting tangled in the painting,” she said. “I still think about it.”

After reading online about genetic research, Ms. Dewey-Hagborg joined Genspace, a New York genetics laboratory, and brought samples she found on Brooklyn streets into the lab for DNA extraction. Ms. Dewey-Hagborg amplifies small DNA strands using a technique called PCR—polymerase chain reaction. She then studies those that vary among people and sends the results to a lab for sequencing.

She receives back text files filled with DNA sequences and uses a computer program to take these values and correlate them with human traits such as eye color and gender. Using that information, her imagination, and powdery material she described as similar to sand and glue, she constructs a face and brings it into being with a three-dimensional printer.

In 1993, Kary Mullis won a Nobel Prize for discovering PCR, and several widespread efforts, including the Human Genome Project, have used the science to compile their databases.

“It really gets you when you realize someone can pick up a hair on the street and know more about you than a doctor can, conceivably,” said Ellen Jorgensen, the director of Genspace.

There are limitations. DNA, Ms. Dewey-Hagborg concedes, can’t tell her specifically how prominent someone’s chin might be or how large the nose. And she may never know, as there is seemingly no way to track down people and match them to material they don’t even know they left behind. She used the technique to create a self-portrait, which is quite similar to her face.

And she recognizes that some critics believe the project is an intrusion of privacy. One scientist and one gallery turned down her proposal, she said, fearing it would cause fright among people. At the Clocktower Gallery, Director David Weinstein said people “have this sort of double take. They start to ask a lot of questions, like, ‘How much can she really know about me from my cigarette butt?’ Then, they’re questioning everything.”

Ms. Dewey-Hagborg’s boyfriend refuses to have his DNA analyzed, despite her persistent requests.

“The biggest problem people have is that it’s such incredibly personal information,” she said. “Now we’re used to things like our faces surveyed by cameras. But this is so intimate, and this is a surveillance of things we might not know about our self.”
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source: haberba

Heather Dewey Hagborg je umjetnica koja je uspjela da spoji nauku i umjetnost. Kako bi učinila maske koje pravi što realističnijim, Hagborg sakuplja uzorke DNK sa opušaka i uzoraka kose koje prikuplja na ulicama, tramvajskim stanicama i restoranima. Što su svježiji uzorci pljuvačke na opušcima, to će rezultate DNK analize biti bolji. Analizom DNK uzoraka Hagborg može utvrditi spol, narodnost, udaljenost između očiju, boju kose i tip nosa. Nakon analize tih podataka, unoseći ih u kompjuter dobija 3D animaciju. Međutim, pojedini su zabrinuti koliko je njena praksa pravno zasnovana. Prema tvrdnjama stručnjaka, izrada maski ove vrste, bez odobrenja, narušavanje je individualne privatnosti i moglo bi izazvati pravne posljedice po mladu umjetnicu.
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source: terrapapers

Όλα ξεκίνησαν από μερικές τρίχες. Η Heather Dewey-Hagborg είχε αρχίσει ήδη να συλλέγει τρίχες με λαστιχένια γάντια από τα δημόσια ουρητήρια στο Penn Station και τις τοποθετούσε σε πλαστικές σακούλες. Μετά διεύρυνε το πεδίο της συλλέγοντας και άλλο «ιατροδικαστικό» υλικό. Καθώς η καλλιτέχνης Heather Dewey-Hagborg ακολουθούσε τη συνήθη διαδρομή μέσω της Ν. Υόρκης για να φθάσει στο σπίτι της στο Brooklyn, καθ’οδόν συλλέγει από τα πεζοδρόμια, από το μετρό, από το λεωφορείο–ακόμα και από μουσεία τέχνης–νύχια, γόπες τσιγάρων και μασημένες πεταμένες τσίχλες.

Φαντάζεστε, πώς την κοιτούν, έτσι; Παρόλο αυτά στην ίδια ερώτηση η ίδια απαντάει ότι οι κάτοικοι της Ν. Υόρκης είναι συνηθισμένοι να βλέπουν παράξενα πράγματα.

Η παλιά όμως αυτή συνήθεια της Dewey-Hagborg έχει έναν άλλο σκοπό από το να προκαλεί απλώς τους περαστικούς. Η 30χρονη υποψήφια διδάκτωρ που σπουδάζει «ηλεκτρονικές τέχνες» στο Πολυτεχνικό Ινστιτούτο Rensselaer στο Troy της Ν. Υόρκης από κάθε ένα τετοιο στοιχείο που συλλέγει στο δρόμο, εξάγει το DNA το οποίο και εισάγει για επεξεργασία σε ένα ειδικό πρόγραμμα υπολογιστή και αυτό με τη σειρά του αναπλάθει το πρόσωπο του ατόμου στο οποίο ανήκε η τρίχα, το νύχι, η γόπα από το τσιγάρο ή η τσίχλα που άφησε πίσω του. Ναι, μην ανατριχιάζετε, γιατί γίνεται χειρότερο!

Από αυτές τις εικονικές αναπλάσεις προσώπων μετά η ίδια δημιουργεί τρισδιάστα γλυπτά αυτών των προσώπων χρησιμοποιώντας έναν 3D εκτυπωτή. Η σειρά των έργων της που έχει το όνομα Stranger Visions, (δηλ. σε ελεύθερη μετάφραση, τα πρόσωπα των αγνώστων) δεν είναι τίποτα αλλο από πορτραίτα ανθρώπων σε πραγματικό μέγεθος που κρέμονται από τοίχο. Συχνά δίπλα από το πορτραίτο εκτίθεται και το στοιχείο από όπου προήλθε το δείγμα για την εξαγωγή του DNA και μία φωτοφία από την τοποθεσία εύρεσής του.

Παρ’ όλα αυτά, η καλλιτέχνης έχει κάποια όρια στα στοιχεία που επιλέγει να συλλέξει από τους δρόμους. Αν και θα μπορούσαν να τη βοηθήσουν στο έργο της δεν συλλέγει για παράδειγμα δείγματα από σάλιο που έχουν φτύσει στο δρόμο ή χρησιμοποιημένα προφυλακτικά. Το πιο βοηθητικό υλικό είναι οι γόπες τσιγάρων καθώς οι καπνιστές εναποθέτουν ένα καλό δείγμα του DNA τους στο φίλτρο του τσιγάρου.
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source: p3publicopt

Foi a meio de uma sessão de terapia que este projecto ímpar nasceu. Heather Dewey-Hagborg reparou num cabelo preso no vidro de uma janela. “Fiquei a olhar para este cabelo, a pensar de quem seria e o que se poderia saber dessa pessoa a partir dele”, explica a artista norte-americana. “No regresso a casa, mais tarde, tomei consciência de todo o material genético que me rodeia e a ideia para o ‘Stranger Visions’ materializou-se.”

A partir daí, Heather, de 30 anos, começou a recolher “amostras” — vestígios de ADN que encontrava nas suas deslocações diárias. “Cabelos, unhas, beatas, pastilha elástica. Nós espalhamos o nosso ADN por todo o lado a toda a hora e nem sequer reparamos”, aponta. “Há cerca de dez anos que seguia e me interessava por bio-arte. Precisava, contudo, de uma questão, uma ideia para me forçar a ‘sujar as mãos’”, conta, em entrevista por e-mail ao P3.

Para que um conjunto de cabelos, beatas e pastilhas (já mastigadas) aleatórios se transformassem em retratos 3D dos seus donos, a jovem estudante de doutoramento nascida na cidade de Filadélfia contou com a colaboração de laboratórios para a extracção de ADN, alguns deles em modo DIY (“Do it yourself”). “Trabalhar com os biólogos ensinou-me praticamente tudo o que sei sobre Biologia Molecular e ADN”, diz.

Após extrair o ADN em laboratório, Heather amplificou certas regiões, usando uma técnica chamada PCR [‘Polymerase Chain Reaction’] que lhe permitiu “estudar algumas regiões do genoma que tendem a variar de pessoa para pessoa”. Para que a sequência genética de cada indivíduo fosse mais de que valores indecifráveis, Heather criou um programa de computador que se alimenta dessa informação e a transforma num “modelo 3D de uma cara”, explica.