Identifying the Face of a Litterer


Cigarette butts on the ground, empty food wrappers—NYC is covered in litter. Want to know who spit that gum out on the street? Or maybe who threw the empty soda onto the train tracks?  Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a self described information artist and she uses art and DNA to “identify” the litter culprits.

Dewey-Hagborg picks up a piece of litter, sends the litter to a lab in Brooklyn for the DNA to be extracted, and from there creates a 3D mold of the face of the litterer. The molds are more artist’s renderings than fact. According to Dewey-Hagborg, “no one has recognized themselves yet! In reality these in-progress portraits are more of a general likeness, a family resemblance, than an exact depiction.

You can check out her other projects on her site,

1 thought on “Identifying the Face of a Litterer”

  1. This is ridiculous and misleading – DNA doesn’t work like that. This gives science-art — even ‘information art’ a bad name.

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