3D printed portraits made with DNA from cigarette butts to feature in new Wellcome Collection display

Robert Dex, Lizzie Thomson
1 / 2
3D printed portraits made with DNA from cigarette butts to feature in new Wellcome Collection display

DNA from discarded cigarette butts and chewed up gum has been used to create a series of life-sized 3D printed portraits for a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection.

American artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg walked the streets of New York picking up cigarettes and hair for her project called Stranger Visions.

She then analysed the DNA to work out the gender and ethnicity of the people involved as well as their likely eye colour and other traits including the size of their nose, before using face-generating software and a 3D printer to create a series of speculative portraits.

Also on show in the new gallery, dedicated to exploring “what it means to be human in the 21st century”, is a series of work by disabled artists including Yinka Shonibare.

The new permanent display titled Being Human will present around 50 pieces and objects that reflect changing relationships with the world, exploring trust, identity and health. It will be divided into four sections: Genetics, Minds & Bodies, Infection and Climate Breakdown.

Works from Deborah Kelly, Katherine Araniello, Kia Labeija, Superflex, Onoman Collective, Cassils, Tasha Marks will also feature.

Being Human will replace the Medicine Now gallery, following 12 years and almost 2 million visits. Turner Prize-winning arts and architecture collective Assemble are set to design the space.

The new gallery at the Euston Road building will be free to the public and is due to open on September 5.