Photograph by Heather Dewey-Hagborg
What questions does Stranger Visions raise?
This work is a provocation, designed to spur a cultural dialogue about genetic surveillance and forensic DNA phenotyping. What does it mean for an artist, an amateur, to do this? What are the implications for privacy issues as well as law enforcement?
Genetic surveillance is the viewing of a person’s genetic information without their knowledge or consent. As embodied creatures we leave genetic material around all the time – it’s part of what makes us human. We are constantly leaving traces, clues as to who we are. The possibility of genetic surveillance is the possibility of analyzing these artifacts to extract incredibly personal, intimate information – things you may not even know about yourself.
My personal primary concern with this technology is the potential that it becomes another form of racial profiling, one that hides its nuances and flaws behind an exterior of objective science.