Jul 12, 2017 | By Tess

The Fridman Gallery in Manhattan, New York will soon be hosting what is arguably one of the most provocative 3D printed art exhibitions of recent times. Called “A Becoming Resemblance,” the exhibit will consist of roughly 30 3D printed portraits of Chelsea Manning, the transgender U.S. Army soldier who was imprisoned for leaking classified data in 2013.

Manning, who was released just over a month ago on May 29, was imprisoned for several years at a U.S. military prison in Kansas. During that time, no photos of Manning were allowed save for a mugshot, a reality which inspired artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg to create a number of technologically generated portraits of her based on DNA from the former intelligence analyst.

The project, which our readers might know from its previous name “Radical Love,” began about two years ago, when Dewey-Hagborg was asked by a media outlet to create an image of Chelsea Manning from her DNA for a feature. When asked for DNA samples from her hair and cheek swabs, Manning got on board, as she believed Dewey-Hagborg would give her more visibility through her art, both as a prisoner and as a trans person.

“Prisons try very hard to make us inhuman and unreal by denying our image, and thus our existence, to the rest of the world," reads a statement by Manning on the gallery's website. "Imagery has become a kind of proof of existence. The use of DNA in art provides a cutting edge and a very post-modern—almost ‘post-post-modern’—analysis of thought, identity, and expression. It combines chemistry, biology, information, and our ideas of beauty and identity.”

Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg with 3D printed Chelsea Manning portraits

With Manning’s DNA samples, Dewey-Hagborg was able to generate a number of facial variations using a DNA analysis software. The thirty 3D printed portraits of Manning that will be exhibited therefore all possess different features, such as different eye and skin colors. Some even look more feminine, while others have more neutral or masculine features.

The idea behind the exhibition is to create a connection between Manning and the visitors. "I'm hoping people will walk in and see a portrait that resonates with them and feel kind of that connection with her,” said Dewey-Hagborg. “We are all Chelsea Manning and we all stand there with her.”

From another perspective, the “A Becoming Resemblance” exhibition also works to demonstrate that DNA-based imaging is not a foolproof method, as thirty variations of Manning’s face were generated from a single DNA sample. Importantly, DNA does not even necessarily indicate what gender a person might be.

(Images: Mike Segar / Reuters)

The 3D printed masks, which have previously been on exhibition in Davos, Switzerland, will soon be on display at the Fridman Gallery in Manhattan. “A Becoming Resemblance” will officially open on August 2, 2017.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Joe D wrote at 7/12/2017 6:05:32 PM:

If using DNA to Model a subject were viable, it would be great to get a photo of a criminal suspect from just using the DNA sample. But, in reality is is not useful. We just don't know enough about the language of DNA. Also, I was under the impression that the presence or absence of that Y-chromosome had EVERYTHING to do with gender. But, it seems we live in an age that wants to redefine everything. I briefly corresponded with a guy who felt he was a wolf. Apparent even the species can't be determined by DNA.

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