Stranger Visions: a genetic surveillance project goes snooping for pieces of ourselves
2012 07 06

By Joshua Kopstein | TheVerge.com





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.


[...]

Read the full article at: theverge.com





Madonna using ’DNA sterilization’ team on tour

Getting fetus’ genetic makeup from mother blood test






Gattaca, Movie 1997

Video from: YouTube.com

Escaping the DNA Police

Video from: YouTube.com






Related Articles
About Forensic DNA Phenotyping
Forensic Phenotyping: What DNA Can (and Cannot) Tell Us About a Criminal’s Appearance
DARPA Puts Out Call for a DNA-Embedded Genetic Surveillance Machine
Adopted Family Members Subjected to Genetic Surveillance
McDonalds Restaurants to Spray Robbers With "Synthetic DNA"
Spray Tans - Experts Raise Questions as Industry Puts Out Warnings: "genetic alterations and DNA damage"
Obama Supports DNA Sampling Upon Arrest


Latest News from our Front Page

Pre-historic tokens used in conjunction with cuneiform
2014 07 22
An archaeological dig in southeast Turkey has uncovered a large number of clay tokens that were used as records of trade until the advent of writing, or so it had been believed. But a new find of tokens, dates from a time when writing was commonplace – thousands of years after it was previously assumed this technology had become obsolete. Researchers ...
Are immigration opponents Nazis?
2014 07 22
It seems the usual suspects are calling anyone who opposes unlimited immigration to be a "Nazi". The Left seems to be in constant fear of "Nazis" that lurk in public policy discussions and I assume under their beds. If you oppose any Leftist position, you are a.... take a wild guess...wait for it.... a NAZI! Tim Wise recently went ...
What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?
2014 07 22
Exclusive: The U.S. media’s Ukraine bias has been obvious, siding with the Kiev regime and bashing ethnic Russian rebels and Russia’s President Putin. But now – with the scramble to blame Putin for the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down – the shoddy journalism has grown truly dangerous, says Robert Parry. In the heat of the U.S. media’s latest war hysteria – rushing to ...
Oh, Great: Robots Are Set to Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews
2014 07 22
Advancing a career in the US government might soon require an interview with a computer-generated head who wants to know about that time you took ketamine. Psychologists at the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA) are developing an interview system that uses a responsive on-screen avatar for the first stage of the national security clearance process. Initial screening for a variety ...
Is Anything on the Internet Real Anymore?
2014 07 22
Is there anybody…out there? I promise I’m a real person asking this question and typing this article…but beyond that, I can’t promise much else about anything you or I see on the Internet. This article on ZDNet, “GCHQ’s dark arts: Leaked documents reveal online manipulation, Facebook, YouTube snooping,” confirms — beyond a shadow of any possible doubt — that a barrage of ...
More News »