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I came across an artist's work recently . This artist is trying to help forensic science! You can see her work here: http://deweyhagborg.com/

Here you can read an interview based on her work here: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/pure-genius/q-a-heather-dewey-hagbo...
(Heather Dewey-Hagborg, information artist, on the intersection of art and science)
At the intersection of art and science, Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates forensic portraits based on the DNA found in stray items, such as chewing gum and cigarette butts. Her work, Stranger Visions, will be on display at the Cyber In Securities exhibition in Washington, D.C., from August 30 to September 27, 2013.

( http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/28/science/tasting-words-dna-art-neu...; )

A Ph.D. student in Electronic Arts Heather Dewey-Hagborg, who makes 3-D "masks," or "portraits," of the faces of unknown individuals using the DNA they unwittingly discard on such things as cigarette butts and chewing gum.In short, Dewey-Hagborg extracts DNA from these samples of trash and turns that information from code into life-sized 3-D facial portraits resembling the person who left the sample behind. She can code for eye color, eye and nose width, skin tone, hair color and more.
She starts by cutting up her sample, sometimes the end of a cigarette, thin slices of a chewed wad of gum, sometimes hair, and incubates the sample with chemicals to distill it into pure DNA.
She then takes that DNA, and matches the code with different traits on the genome related to the way human faces look. Next, she sends the DNA to a sequencing company that sends her back a text file full of A, C, Ts and Gs — remember those from biology class? Those are the four nucleic acid bases that DNA is made out of.
She then reads that information in a program she designed herself, translating the code into traits, then using those traits to build a 3-D model of a face. Dewey-Hagborg can determine ethnicity, gender, even a tendency to be overweight according to this article: http://www.npr.org/2013/05/12/183363361/litterbugs-beware-turning-f....
But even all of that can't give her the whole picture. Much of the information is still missing, and Dewey-Hagborg has to fill in the gaps. She compares that part of the work to a sketch artist. "This person is more likely to be overweight, to have pale skin, to have freckles, blue eyes, how do I interpret this?"
People often ask her how accurate the portraits are. Of course, she has no way of knowing. After all, she collects these items from anonymous sources. But she did start off with her own portrait based on her own DNA.

The portraits are subjective in a big way, she acknowledges, but says much of the information is solidly based in data.

Though she started this project in part to "open up the conversation about genetic surveillance," she says, it's taken on another purpose. Right now she's working with the Delaware medical examiner's office to try to identify a woman in a 20-year-old unsolved case by using some of the victim's remains to build a 3-D portrait of her. She's six weeks away from finishing the process, when investigators will, for the first time, have some idea of what the victim looked like before her death.

Now read the comments below this article:

http://www.npr.org/2013/05/12/183363361/litterbugs-beware-turning-f...

Yes, people are very worried! People are saying this is just a publicity stunt. They are highly skeptical too!  And why shouldn't they be!?

The artist herself apparently shares these concerns! She says: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/pure-genius/q-a-heather-dewey-hagbo...">The artist herself says when the scientists pointed this is imporssible: I wasn’t sure at all it would work.My science background was minimal. I had a computer science background. I’d taken the standard biology courses in high school and a little in college. I was coming into it from a pretty ignorant perspective. I knew about evolution, of course. But I had no idea about molecular biology or the lab techniques involved. A lot of the learning process for me on that end was simply mechanical. I was learning to do things like pipetting properly.  I’ve been taking the scientific research and interpreting it in a speculative direction. http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/pure-genius/q-a-heather-dewey-hagbo...">I’ve been taking the scientific research and interpreting it in a speculative direction. ( http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/pure-genius/q-a-heather-dewey-hagbo... ).

She herself concedes these works “might look more like a possible cousin than a spitting image. In addition to her upcoming exihibit, Stranger Visions, she will be leading policy discussions on the implications of her art.

There is a big  problem here? The works based on DNA obtained do not allow her to predict someone's face with anything but the crudest of guesses.

Read a blog based on the aritists' work , especially the comments here: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/billofhealth/2013/05/27/dna-art/

Now you will know how fault-ridden her work can be. Actual scientists, it seems, are saying this is a scam!

This article http://bigthink.com/endless-innovation/dna-street-art-or-the-future...

cautions you about DIY Bioart

Now read this article: Artist Creates Portraits From People's DNA. Scientists Say 'That's Impossible'

http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2013/05/31/turning-found-...      

So?!             

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Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on October 1, 2013 at 5:28am

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Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on September 10, 2013 at 6:03am
Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on September 7, 2013 at 6:07am

http://edition.myjoyonline.com/pages/science/201309/112670.php

Artist creates faces from DNA left in public

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on August 28, 2013 at 7:53am
Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on August 28, 2013 at 7:14am

Hmm, this art project strikes me as misleading and as likely to lead (indeed, already has led) to overblown reactions. It appears (from here: http://deweyhagborg.com/strangervisions/samples.html) that she’s basing these masks on very little data: (1) presence or absence of the SRY gene, which tells her whether the cigarette butt or gum, or whatever, was in the mouth of a male or female; (2) mtDNA Haplotype, which tells you something pretty broad (e.g., “Eastern European”) about only half of the person’s ancestry (the half on his or her maternal line); and (3) the person’s genotype at the HERC2 gene, which *predicts,* probabilistically, one’s eye color — and only for those of European ancestry, because, alas, that’s the data we currently have. (So, for instance, in Europeans, those who are homozygous for HERC2 (AA), as all four of her samples are, have an 85% chance of having brown eyes; a 14% chance of having green eyes; and a 1% chance of having blue eyes. To take another example, I am heterozygous (AG), which gives me a 56% chance of having brown eyes; a 37% chance of having green eyes; and only a 7% chance of having blue eyes. Although she would have predicted that I would have brown eyes, I in fact have blue eyes.)

All of which is just to say that, so far as I can tell, she’s working with sex; ancestral groups that are usually very broad, and in any event only reflect half of the individual’s DNA (from which she presumably guesses hair color and texture and bone structure); and a decent guess at eye color. There are hundreds of thousands (at least) of people who would fit these descriptions even if each of her phenotype predictions were accurate, and in many cases, one or more of those predictions are probably going to be wrong.

And yet her masks, and the publicity they’ve generated, suggest that simply genotyping the saliva on a leftover dinner glass could easily re-identify someone by creating a 3D mask that resembled the proband’s unique face. As Big Think disappointingly puts it (here: http://bigthink.com/endless-innovation/dna-street-art-or-the-future...), “imagine walking into your local coffee shop and seeing your face up on the wall without ever having posed for a photo or portrait. . . . The only thing that [DNA] can’t tell you, apparently, is the specific age of the person.” Oh brother.

I appreciate that she acknowledges that the masks may look more like a “cousin” of the proband than the proband him- or herself, but even that is misleading unless we think of each person as having 100,000 “cousins.” Given that she intends her art to “spark a dialogue over genetic surveillance,” that’s a little troubling.

(Also, with respect to her “self-portrait” (see here: http://www.theverge.com/2012/7/5/3138563/stranger-visions-genetic-s...), which is being used to suggest how accurate her method is, I’m pretty sure that there are no genes for plucked eyebrows.)
http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/billofhealth/2013/05/27/dna-art/

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on August 28, 2013 at 6:51am

http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2013/05/science-art-policy-and-the-...

Science, Art, Policy, and the Importance of Good Science Communication

Recently, several media outlets, including NPR, the New York Times, and Big Think, have covered the story of Ph.D. student in Electronic Arts Heather Dewey-Hagborg, who makes 3-D "masks," or "portraits," of the faces of unknown individuals using the DNA they unwittingly discard on such things as cigarette butts and chewing gum. The media coverage has conjured an Orwellian dystopia for readers (check out the first few comments on the NPR piece for a sample). The artist herself apparently shares these concerns. In addition to her upcoming exihibit, Stranger Visions, she will be leading policy discussions on the implications of her art. She's also working with the Delaware medical examiner's office to try to identify the remains of a 20-year-old body.

The problem? As I commented over at Bill of Health, based on what she's said about her methods, they do not allow her to predict someone's face with anything but the crudest of guesses.

Matthew Herper of Forbes took my criticisms and those of others directly to the artist. I confess that her response does not make me feel any better. Even if you're "only" engaging in art, it seems to me that when that art has an obvious science policy message — indeed, one that you invite — you have some obligation to be clear about how "speculative," as she puts it, your art is. But when you decide to move from the world of art into the world of science, and to start leading policy discussions based on your speculative art and working with forensic examiners? Then you really have a strong duty to be very clear about what your work does and does not mean. Among other things, you should take care when talking to the media, and correct the media if they get it wrong. (This is, of course, a lesson that applies to all scholars, including legal scholars, not only to scientists.)

Yesterday, the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium, an international consortium that pools and conducts social science research on existing genome-wide association study (GWAS) data, and on whose Advisory Board I sit, published (online ahead of print) the results of its first study in Science. That paper — "GWAS of 126,559 Individuals Identifies Genetic Variants Associated ..." (plus supplemental data) — like much human genetics research, has the potential to be misinterpreted in the lay, policy, and even science worlds. That's why, in addition to taking care to accurately describe the results in the paper itself, including announcing the small effect sizes of the replicated SNPs in the abstract, being willing to talk to the media (many scientists are not), and engaging in increasingly important "post-publication peer review" conversations on Twitter (yes, really) and elsewhere — we put together this FAQ of what the study does — and, just as important, does not — show. So far, our efforts have been rewarded with responsible journalism that helps keep the study's limits in the foreground. Perhaps Dewey-Hagborg should consider issuing a similar FAQ with her speculative art.

http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/billofhealth/2013/05/27/dna-art/

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