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Artist Creates Human 3D Printed DNA Portraits From DNA Fragments

3 Years Ago By Richard Darell

Creative artists all around the world find new ways to incorporate technology into their art. It’s becoming ever more evident when you look at the displays and installations that are launched these days. Some artists go to great lengths in order to find and utilize the most intricate solutions to create art that hasn’t been created before. That is the case with Heather Dewey-Hagborg‘s art, which is driven by our very own genes and has spawned freakishly real DNA portraits.

Art in general is a creative outlet that has more branches than any other “industry.” This is even more true when you combine art with technology in projects like this DNA portraits installment. That’s when you start getting results that most artists haven’t endeavored into before. The uncharted land of technology art is a sure way to engage more people into what at some point seemed to be a dying breed, art in general that is.

Heather has found a creative outlet that is right on the edge of what technology can achieve today. She scours the streets for DNA fragments which she finds in stuff like cigarette butts, chewing gum and whatever else that might hold DNA for her DNA portraits. These blueprint strings of life help her create lifelike DNA portraits that border on the surreal. When you look at them, they first come across like eerie human taxidermy creations, but their refinement is far more complex than that.

With the help of a 3D printer, Heather is able to print these amazing looking DNA portraits that almost seem to come to life when they are placed on a wall. In a way, they help us understand the complex nature of human beings from just looking at the 3D print itself. The incredible coloring in these DNA portraits even adds to the immersive shock you feel when you first lay eyes on them. It won’t be long before we will have 3D printed full-body clones of our deceased loved ones. Now that, on the other hand, is downright freaky!

Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s DNA Portraits

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Via: [UFunk – French] [designboom]

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7 Comments

Jason

May 9th, 2013

I would love to know how she actually goes about doing this – what is the process? Does she just find the traits and then create something based on that or is she actually able to use the DNA as a kind of software that directly tells the printer what to do? This is fascinating but I would really like to know more.

[Reply]

Richard Darell

May 9th, 2013

Unfortunately the artist never disclosed how she takes the DNA and turn it into these portraits. We’ll be sure to write another piece about it if she at some point decides to share that secret. Glad you liked the article. :)

[Reply]

Anonymous

November 20th, 2015

What is disconcerting is that it sounds like she has not gotten anyone’s permission to use their DNA for such a thing. What a violation on so many levels.

Greg

May 9th, 2013

It’s art with a hypothetical technology theme. It offers a thought provoking commentary that perhaps one day in the future we may need to protect our DNA since it is the ultimate representation of our identity.

[Reply]

Kristof

May 10th, 2013

Cool idea but, I’m skeptical, I don’t buy it. DNA doesn’t change, so how did the artist determine which age to render the person’s face? Seems like it’s a huge “missing link” without disclosing HOW they went from DNA to 3D printing. I’d think if profiles could be created from DNA, law officials wouldn’t have to “match” DNA samples, they could just print it the persons face.

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Greg

May 10th, 2013

I’m sorry, but I’m stunned by how many people are actually taking this literally. She’s an artist. C’mon, if she had found a way to take human DNA read it, create a zygote, interpret it in such as way as to develop it from an embryo to adulthood, simulating all the molecular chemical reactions in the process…, then extract the grown image of the person, well… that would single handedly be the greatest accomplishment of the human race. What people don’t seem to understand is that she’s making a point about privacy and using this concept as a way of expressing it as an art form.

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Sophie

May 16th, 2013

Kristof, I’m afraid you’re wrong. You can actually determine a persons age (to a certain extent) by his or her DNA. Google “TCR-Excisions-Circles” and you’ll find out that similar to a trees annual growth rings, these circles within the DNA can help define age.

And yes, I think law officials WILL use this pretty new technique when its advanced enough.

Imagine what that would mean. Even tiny trails of victims and offender can give them a fully developed face with which any search will be at least easier.

I really hope this won’t be just an artist act.

[Reply]

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