Science: DNA Can Be Used To Create A 3D-Printed Mask Of Your Face

3-D PRINTING IS THE FUTURE!!! (Especially if you’re into weird, creepy human masks right out of a Mission Impossible movie).

One scientist has made an art project out of printing human faces using human DNA samples found on things like hair, chewing gum, etc.

3D Printed Faces

Heather Dewey-Hagborg, a 30-year-old PhD student in electronic arts, was sitting in her therapist’s office when she noticed a crack in the glass cover of a painting on the wall. On inspection, she found a single hair lodged in the crack, which prompted her to think of what kind of CSI-esque magic could be performed on a single specimen of human DNA. The result is a project mixing art and science called Stranger Visions.

Creating these 3D masks takes a few basic steps:

1. Collect a human DNA sample from a specimen such as chewed gum, a cigarette butt, or hair.

2. Extract and sequence the DNA at a DIY biology lab in Downtown Brooklyn.

3. Feed the results into a 3D-modeling software package she created, which generates the face.

4. Add some finishing touches and print the face using a full-color ZPrinter 3D printer.

The face isn’t a true replica of the original face, however. The science is imperfect and generates an image based on features likely to exist based on the DNA sequencing, such as gender, hair color, skin color, and nose width. DNA isn’t able to ascertain the age of the subject, so the program generates a 25-year-old likeness. The faces are generally displayed alongside the original specimens that created them.

A fascinating part of this story is Dewey-Hagborg didn’t have any experience with DNA sequencing when she conceived the idea. She took a crash course in molecular biology near the beginning of the project and used her programming skills to help with the facial modeling, but otherwise started with an idea.

If this kind of art and science is up your alley, you can always have your face printed on a doll for $1300. Creepy.


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