Angela Strassheim is photographer who used to capture crime scene images for forensic study. Her series, “Evidence,” documents the inside and outside of homes where domestic homicides have occurred. While the homes’ outside images ring familiar in a non-intimate way, the black and white, long exposure images of the homes’ insides offer a haunting glimpse into a more intimate space. The most unsettling aspect of these images are the noticeable physical traces of disputes – the bright, white flecks and splatters observed in the photos are the result of “Blue Star” solution being applied to surfaces to activate the “physical memory of blood through contacting the remaining DNA proteins.”
Of her series, Strassheim says, “Perhaps we have all processed a question in certain love relationships: Could we be a victim of violence or perform an act of violence against a loved one out of our immense capacity to feel jealousy, anger, rage, and desperation in a moment of extreme emotion? These photographs allow for the viewer to entertain the idea that this situation could involve anyone of us…The crime scene is presented on two levels; it is both an accurate, tragic, and dramatic transcription of the event and a mysterious backdrop onto which one can project their imagination.” (via it’s nice that and women in photography)
We all know the story of Vincent van Gogh’s ear, an organ that the artist is rumored to have severed from his own head in a fit of lovesick madness. For her project Sugababe, the artist Diemut Strebe has recreated the living ear of the legendary Post-Impressionist. Teaming up with scientists and using an advanced 3D printing technique, Strebe constructed the true-to-life organ from a sample of the late artist’s DNA found in an envelope that he had licked in 1883 and live cartilage from the ear of Lieuwe van Gogh, a grandson of the painter’s brother. The replicated ear, now on view at The Center for Art and Media in Karlshruhe in Germany, is kept alive by being suspended in a solution laced with nutrients.
Strebe’s installation includes a microphone into which viewers can speak. The sound is then carried to the ear, which hears speech as a crackling noise that is projected through speakers for all to listen. For the artist, Sugababe is a physical manifestation of Theseus’ paradox, wherein the ancient Greek hero was asked if a ship would remain the same if all its individual parts were replaced with new ones. Here, Strebe asks if this clone of an ear might in fact be considered the same ear worn by van Gogh. Tragically unable to respond the viewers who speak to it, the organ seems startlingly alien. Though it is composed of the same elements as the original ear, it lacks the humanity and the romance we ascribe the artist whose molecular biology it shares.
Given the tragic history of the artist, Strebe’s work carries with it a sense of loss and poignancy. Where the living van Gogh was unappreciated— reviled, even—in his time, here even his tiny organ is preserved with the utmost care, his body transformed into a valuable work of art in and of itself. (via Design Boom and The Daily Beast)
Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg‘s project, Stranger Visions, is a wonderful mix of science and art. Dewey-Hagborg turns a poetic attention to the seemingly innocuous artifacts of life: a hair, chewed gum, a cigarette butt. Beyond sight, though, the DNA remains of each unique person inhabits these “artifacts”. She picks up these remains up throughout Brooklyn and brings them to a nearby biology lab. Dewey-Hagborg extracts the DNA from the object, then information from the DNA. She runs the information through a program she has written herself that is able to determine physical features such as eye color, hair color, gender, nose width, and so on. That information is then exported to a 3D color printer to create a sculptural portrait of the unwitting donor. [via]