Arts + Design

Video: A DNA portrait from a single hair

Jun 20, 2013 /
Using found DNA, one artist imagined this 3D-printed face. Watch "DNA Portrait."

Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg collected hairs that people shed in public spaces … and then sequenced the DNA therein, in order to print 3D sculptures of what those hairs’ owners just might look like. Whoa. This 11-minute film, “DNA Portrait”  explores her work — and the questions it raises:

The film is also the secret story of the public bio lab run by TEDGlobal 2012 speaker Ellen Jorgensen. At Genspace, people can experiment with DNA-sequencing technology, regardless of their scientific knowledge or experience. As Jorgensen comments in the film, Dewey-Hagborg’s work is super interesting, not to mention searingly contemporary. “It’s a very accessible way for the public to engage with this new technology. It really brings to light how powerful it is, the idea that a hair from your head can fall on your street and a perfect stranger can pick it up and know something about it,” she says, adding: “With DNA sequencing becoming faster and cheaper, this is the world we’re all going to be living in.”

This gorgeous film was made by TED’s longtime video editor Kari Mulholland. Watch (full-screen is best) >>