Hong Kong Cleanup uses DNA to "identify" and shame litterbugs
The Hong Kong Cleanup organization is trying a new method to help curb littering: public shame. For it's latest campaign, Hong Kong Cleanup collected DNA from litter on the street, and then created digital renderings of faces phenotyped from the DNA.
Though the faces used in "Faces of Litter" were constructed using DNA from volunteers, the campaign is a stark reminder of how easy it is to be identified by even the smallest amount of evidence.
The campaign is strikingly similar to a recent project by transdisciplinary artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg, who created a series of 3D printed masks based on DNA samples from random trash. Using phenotyping technology, Dewey-Hagborg modeled each mask based on genetic traits as suggested by the DNA.
Upon outreach, Ogilvy says that the resemblance is a coincidence, and that they only became aware of Dewey-Hagborg as people tweeted about it when the campaign was launched. "The idea behind our campaign came from a report written by Parabon Nanolabs. The Scientist at this particular lab, Steve Armentrout, was the lead researcher in assisting with the technology and science behind making this campaign a reality," says Ogilvy Hong Kong Communications Director Anna Mugglestone.
"The concept of DNA testing isn't a new one so we're not surprised it has been used for other purposes other than criminal investigations and in our case for social change."