Articles‎ > ‎

Britney Bitch to DNA Forensics - 3D Printing Takes Off

posted Feb 8, 2013, 7:34 PM by Ellen Pearlman


Brittney Spears as “Brittney Bitch”

Will i. Am, the singer/songwriter impresario is a technofile who keeps innovations flowing through his music videos. With Sing and Shout,  a duet made with with Britney Spears he inserts bits and pieces of robotics and 3D printing, thus bringing the latest technological innovations into pop and mass culture.image

3D Printer printing out Will i Am’s head

The images from the music video are sleek and startling. They also show how advertising, technology and art and music become intertwined at warp speed.


Will I Am drops his iphone in water - hope he’s insured

Although the mention is brief, he pushes robots and prosthetics in with club beats


Mano  e. Mano true Human Computer Interface (HCI) reactions 

So that’s just a teaser for the second use of 3D printing, to do something dastardly and forensic-like. The artist and computer scientist Heather Dewey-Hagborg came up with an approach to making a 3D printed mask that reads like a crime scene investigation. Her piece called “Stranger Visions” starts with the premise of something left behind such as a hair, or a lip stain on a cigarette that she calls “forensic samples” can develop into a piece of art.

She collected a sample, such as a cigarette butt, and documented the process. Then working with a DIY lab in Brooklyn called Genspace where in just three days you can learn how to test genetic data. She used the extracted genetic code and produced a 3D model of the likely face. But it wasn’t really that simple.


A cigarette butt, photo of butt on the ground, an explanation of where the butt was found, and the possible DNA type it matched.


Likely ancestry profile of DNA specimen

She began by working with a facial recognition algorithm created by Base Morphable Model, a very Euro-centric group of model makers for face types. Then she expanded her definition by used something called theFeret (Facial Recognition Technology Database) face model set, which was made up by a bunch of scientists to give a fuller picture of face types. She then had to figure out code in something called Biopython, an open source library to read and interpret all this data. Yikes! Then she figured out how to take that info, and make it into a likely 3D mask of the actual person. I”m not sure how she did that, but it must have taken an awful lot of coding.


Possible 3D printed mask interpretation of DNA forensic data

All this shows the current uses of types of 3D printing, from artists putting their own image into a music video to an artist digging backwards, using science and code to print a probable forensic face mask.