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Stranger Visions: a genetic surveillance project goes snooping for pieces of ourselves 2012-07-06 0:00
With websites, corporations, and governments peeking at our activities both on and offline, many of us have become more mindful of the electronic footprints our online activities leave behind. But there aren’t any privacy settings to deter the kind of surveillance that information artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg is modeling with her new project: a genetic intelligence database of computer-generated 3D profiles constructed from found hair samples.
Premiering last weekend at an open studio showcase for residents of New York City’s Eyebeam art and technology lab, the project, Stranger Visions, began with a simple but profound realization: we are leaving physical traces of ourselves everywhere, and tools to unlock the secrets behind those traces will soon become more accessible than ever before.
Dewey-Hagborg says it was a single strand of hair lodged precariously between the glass frame of a painting that got her to thinking about the origins of this ubiquitous human detritus. "I had never considered the emerging possibility of genetic surveillance," she says. "That the very things that make us human: hair, skin, saliva, become a liability as we constantly face the possibility of shedding these traces in public space, leaving artifacts which anyone could come along and mine for information." She points me to a story about a geneticist whose attempts to determine the origin of a murderer from a semen sample caused the Dutch government to pass new regulations on DNA phenotyping in 2003. "It was part of my early research and I think that the issues that article raises are integral to the piece." Today, the Netherlands remains the only country to have explicitly restricted such practices.
The premise might bring to mind the fictional dystopia depicted in Andrew Niccol’s 1997 sci-fi film, Gattaca. But Stranger Visions isn’t a tribute — it’s an actual proof-of-concept. Collaborating with Genspace, a DIY bio lab and hackerspace in Brooklyn, Dewey-Hagborg found herself in the role of an amateur gene sleuth, aiming to make the genetic forensics equivalent of police sketches. Collecting hair samples from bathroom stalls and other public spaces, she extracts known predictive traits from the sequenced genome — race, resistance to diseases, eye color, etc. — eventually using the results to chart ancestry across a large printed map and generate 3D portraits of her unwitting, anonymous subjects.
Obama Arms ISIS-Linked Militants, Pushes Gun Control On Very Same Day 2015-10-07 6:19
President Obama authorized a shipment of guns to the Syrian opposition, a.k.a. ISIS-linked militants, on the exact same day he demanded more gun control in response to the Oregon shooting.
Even more shocking, Obama did the very same thing after the 2013 D.C. Navy Yard shooting.
The president approved the re-arming of the Syrian opposition, which predominantly consists of ISIS and its ...
'No Borders' Activist Gang Raped by Migrants, Pressured into Silence to not 'Damage Causeâ€™ 2015-10-07 6:37
Colleagues are alleged to have said that reporting the crime would set back their struggle for a borderless world.
The ‘No Borders’ activist had dedicated a month of her life to helping migrants. Her group was stationed between Italy and France in Ponte San Ludovico in Ventimiglia when the atrocity occurred, according to reports from local papers La Stampa and Il Secolo XIX, ...
Muslims Declare Jihad on Dogs in Europe 2015-10-07 3:18
A Dutch Muslim politician has called for a ban on dogs in The Hague, the third-largest city in the Netherlands.
Islamic legal tradition holds that dogs are "unclean" animals, and some say the call to ban them in Holland and elsewhere represents an attempted encroachment of Islamic Sharia law in Europe.
This latest canine controversy -- which the Dutch public has greeted ...
Islamic State 'blows up Palmyra arch' 2015-10-06 21:37
Palmyra's Arch of Triumph was built by the Romans in the second Century AD
Islamic State militants in northern Syria have blown up another monument in the ancient city of Palmyra, officials and local sources say.
The Arch of Triumph was "pulverised" by the militants who control the city, a Palmyra activist told AFP news agency.
It is thought to have been ...