Your DNA, Art & Privacy

If you've ever left a stray hair in an airport bathroom sink, tossed a used tissue into the trash, or recycled a water bottle, you could be a target of surveillance, of the genetic kind. Collection of your DNA from such articles might be an example of police opportunism or the germ for an art project.

Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg intends to unsettle us by highlighting the uses and misuses that can be made of "abandoned DNA." She extracted and analyzed DNA from a discarded cigarette butt to create a 3-D portrait of the smoker.1 The facemask Dewey-Hagborg created from her own DNA is not an identical match,2 but the number of personal details that can be learned from DNA analysis is disturbingly large....


is the Executive Director of The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity in Deerfield, Illinois.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #30, Fall 2014 Copyright © 2023 Salvo |


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