In Stranger Visions I collected hairs, chewed up gum, and cigarette butts from the streets, public bathrooms and waiting rooms of New York City. I extracted DNA from them and analyzed it to computationally generate 3d printed life size full color portraits representing what those individuals might look like, based on genomic research. Working with the traces strangers unwittingly left behind, the project was meant to call attention to the developing technology of forensic DNA phenotyping, the potential for a culture of biological surveillance, and the impulse towards genetic determinism.
Since this time I have devoted critical efforts to discussing the limitations and bias in phenotyping technology, which I (and many scientists) do not consider accurate or impartial enough for use in criminal investigations. For a discussion of my concern that this may become a new form of racial profiling see my article "Sci-fi Crime Drama with a Strong Black Lead" in the New Inquiry magazine.
This work was created with the support of Eyebeam and the mentorship of Genspaceand NYU's Advanced Media Studio. It is in the collection of the Centre Pompidou and private collections worldwide.
I have given many public presentations about Stranger Visions on panels, and at conferences and festivals including: MoMA R&D Salon #15: Way of the Algorithm, The Wilson Center for Public Policy, The Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board, The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Genspace, The New School, The International Association of Privacy Professionals, and Eyeo.
Cover of Government Technology. Features on: Arts Asia Pacific, New Scientist, TED, BBC, Reuters, the German cultural show Aspekte on the channel ZDF, the New Yorker, the Guardian, CNN Sunday Morning, CNN International, and CNN Technovations, NPR, Smithsonian, New York Times Magazine, Wired UK, Fuji TV in Japan, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Times of London and UK Daily Mail, Il Sole 24 Ore, Dan Rather Reports (video) (starts at 39:38), Studio 360 (radio and video), Art Ukraine, CBS News Radio, Le Monde, Haaretz, New York Post (video), The Boston Globe, The Creators Project, Designboom, The Verge, Fast Company, Motherboard and "face of the day" on the Daily Beast. Write-up in Science Magazine, Capital New York and Artlog
Stranger Visions, winner of an Ars Electronica honorary mention 2015 and a special mention at VIDA 15.0, has been exhibited locally and internationally at events and venues including: Fotomuseum, Winterthur, Article Biennial, Norway, Saint Gaudens national historic site, The New York Public Library, 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.
A public version of the genetic profiling code is available on github and there are tutorials and related information on my blog.