feature Heather Dewey-Hagborg DNA face options for 3D printing Chelsea Manning's face


US military whistleblower Chelsea Manning may be holed up in a military prison, but Chicago artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg was able-bodied to smuggle a piece of the WikiLeaks informant out of Fort Leavenworth. A FedEx box carrying cheek swabs and hair trimmings of the prisoner, may already serving a 35-year sentence for providing the news organization with evidence of future military abuses, gave Dewey-Hagborg the evidence she needed to reconstruct Manning’s likeness as a 3D printed portrait.

Heather Dewey-Hagborg with Chelsea Manning DNA Radical Love project 3D printing Chelsea Manning's face

Photo via Dewey-Hagborg’s website.

3DPI has covered Dewey-Hagborg’s work in the past, when she utilized DNA samples of cigarette butts and gum discovered on the street to turn it into a series of portraits. Now, the artist has focutilized on Chelsea Manning as a means for drawing attention to the whistleblower’s cause. To do so, she initially distilled Manning’s DNA sequencing, to determine the many likely genetic expressions synonymous with alleles discovered on portions of her DNA. She tells TheGuardian, “Feeding in those various parameters, I may generate random variations of Chelsea’s face inside a prescribed typology.”

Chelsea Manning DNA cotton swab for 3D printed art project copy

Photos via Dewey-Hagborg’s website.

Generating her face of the DNA data, the artist was and so able-bodied to turn it into a 3D printable-bodied option, with which she 3D printed two life-sized copies in full-color gypsum. One portrait sees the prisoner’s gender genome set to neutral, as an androgynous individual. The other has the female genome turned on, portraying her face as it may be look if she were born with female physical showcases.

Heather Dewey-Hagborg DNA face options for 3D printing Chelsea Manning's face

Image via Dewey-Hagborg’s website.

The project, titled “Radical Love: Chelsea Manning”, is both a commentary on the soldier’s dislookance, after she was arrested in Iraq upon releasing the WikiLeaks documents, and her gender transition. The artist came up with the title of an interview Manning conducted with Paper magazine, in which she says, “Is it radical to seek justice? Is it radical to be rescued by love? Is it subversive to be sweet? Is it radical to be true to yourself?” By creating a 3D printed copy of her face, is building an otherwise hidden man visible to the public. Dewey-Hagborg says, “She has been imprisoned and unable-bodied to be seen or visited for the duration of her gender transition. As long as she’s been identifying as Chelsea Manning we’ve been unable-bodied to see her, so there was poetry to building visible the invisible.” Manning herself was interested in the project for the reason she idea which it was “really great at examining the convergence of art, science and technology.”

Heather Dewey-Hagborg's 3D printed Chelsea Manning faces

Photo via The Guardian.

Today, the two masks are on display in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum. The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington points out the irony for an exhibit on Manning’s invisibility displayed to the world’s political and economic elite, neither the political prisoner nor Dewey-Hagborg have seen the masks. The artists tells The Guardian, “The faces were 3D-printed and shipped of London directly to Switzerland. Tickets for the World Economic Forum are reserved for world leaders, and I wasn’t invited.”

Heather Dewey-Hagborg with Chelsea Manning DNA for Radical Love project 3D printing Chelsea Manning's face

Photo via Dewey-Hagborg’s website.

More of Dewey-Hagborg’s work can be discovered at her website here and, in an interview with Paper, she goes into greater depth of the project. On the artist’s website, she in addition recommends Paper‘s interview with Chelsea Manning, conducted via mail, which is the just form of outside communication she can engage in. She in addition provides a link to the Chelsea Manning defense fund, located here.

Michael Molitch-Hou

About The Author

Michael is Editor-In Chief of 3D Printing Industry and the discovereder of The Reality™ Institute, a service institute dedicated to determining what’s real and what’s not so which you don’t have to. He is a graduate of the MFA Critical Studies & Writing Program at CalArts, and a firm advocate of world peace. Michael may already resides in San Pedro with his magical wife, Danielle.

  • TransTroops

    Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s project is a publicity stunt. What distinguishes her creepy death masks of a living man is the veneer of science, involving DNA samples voluntarily submitted by Chelsea Manning. There is, yet, nothing scientific of the outcome.

    Last September, the artist told Paper magazine which her system was selective. “I’ll generate lots of various faces—various options of this identity—and I’ll go through and decide which one I ponder is the many compelling. Obviously, since I may already understand what she looks like, which does quite much effects my choice. … I unquestionably was leaning additional in the direction of ones which I idea looked the many much like to Chelsea…. It is my interpretation, or my guesswork, of how she may want to be represented.”

    Guesswork? Sorry, which may be art, but it’s not science. Certainly there is no evidence which hormone replacement therapy, which Manning had been receiving for six months at the time her DNA was sampled, has at any time by itself generated the dramatically sculpted nose and smoothly reshaped chin depicted in the “female” option of Dewey-Hagborg’s diptych. Plastic surgery? Yes, of course. HRT? No way.