Blog Menu

Studio Sunday: Heather Dewey-Hagborg

A photo of Heather Dewey-Hagborg at work in her studio

 

Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a New York-based artist who works with human DNA. The artist extracts genetic material from discarded cigarette butts and chewing gum on the streets of the city and uses the resulting data to approximate the faces of the gum-chewers and smokers.

 

Dewey-Hagborg has a background in science, and the nature of her practice means that much of her work is done in a lab. The actual extraction and sequencing of the DNA takes place at GenSpace Lab in Brooklyn, and the artist uses 3-D modelling software to “sculpt” her faces before 3-D printing them as hyper-realistic masks.

 

Unsurprisingly, the studio space pictured here is somewhat sparse, and seems like more of a staging area -- the artist appears to be in the process of unpacking a 3-D printed mask, and another one hangs on the wall behind her. It’s possible that the artist’s “studio” consists mostly of a computer where she creates the images for the faces. To get such an impressive amount of detail with her masks would require an expensive, high-quality 3-D printer -- I wonder if this is something that Dewey-Hagborg has invested in herself, or if she uses an external facility.

 

There’s something almost eerie about the sparseness of the room otherwise -- Dewey-Hagborg’s faces are almost the only notable objects in the space, which lends them a certain power and presence.

 

Dewey-Hagborg’s practice has drawn attention not only from the art world, but from science and even law enforcement. While the artist’s masks are not identical matches to any one person, the technology that Dewey-Hagborg employs could theoretically be used to create highly detailed mock ups of faces wanted by police, or for other means.  


[image source]


About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. She is a recent graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where she studied Critical and Cultural Practices. She is passionate about talking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In her studio practice she is a painter, but she considers herself an art writer and educator foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises

Read more of Dallas' posts

Make your art portfolio easy

and focus your time on making art.

GET STARTED NOW

Try free for 30 days. No payment required.