Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Photo of the Day: Fresh Off the 3D Powder Press

"Sneak preview: Portrait of Chelsea Manning (one of a diptych) hot off the powder printing presses. Courtesy of Mariana Pestana." Image Source: Heather Dewey Hagbourg.

Thanks to artist Heather Dewey-Hagbourg, previously featured in this post, who just sent me a press release about her upcoming exhibition, featuring a genetically-sourced 3D printed portrait - also known as a forensic DNA phenotype - following the gender transformation of whistleblower Bradley Manning aka Chelsea Manning. Manning released information on the US military in 2010 to WikiLeaks. Manning, a former US Army soldier, was convicted in 2013 and then changed his gender to become a trans woman, joining a gnostic bandwagon previously discussed in this post and this post. Dewey-Hagbourg was interviewed about this project at Paper in September 2015, here.

The exhibition, Radical Love: Chelsea Manning,
"will premiere at the World Economic Forum in Davos [on 20-23 January 2016], as part of the Victoria and Albert exhibition This Time Tomorrow curated by Mariana Pestana. ... This is the first time the 3d prints of the DNA portraits generated from her hair and cheek swabs will be seen publicly." 
I think you've covered every last possible base from the Zeitgeist, Heather. The exhibition will explore the quest for self in the Millennial mish-mash: "Is it radical to seek justice? Is it radical to be rescued by love? Is it subversive to be sweet? Is it radical to be true to yourself?"


  1. Heather Dewey-Hagborg's project is a publicity stunt. What distinguishes her creepy death masks of a living person is the veneer of science, involving DNA samples voluntarily submitted by Chelsea Manning. There is, however, nothing scientific about the result.

    Last September, the artist told Paper magazine that her process was selective. "I'll generate lots of different faces—different versions of this identity—and I'll go through and decide which one I think is the most compelling. Obviously, since I already know what she looks like, that does very much influence my choice. … I definitely was leaning more toward ones that I thought looked the most similar to Chelsea…. It's my interpretation, or my guesswork, of how she would want to be represented."

    Guesswork? Sorry, that may be art, but it's not science. Certainly there is no evidence that hormone replacement therapy, which Manning had been receiving for six months at the time her DNA was sampled, has ever by itself produced the dramatically sculpted nose and smoothly reshaped chin depicted in the "female" version of Dewey-Hagborg's diptych. Plastic surgery? Yes, of course. HRT? No way.

    1. Thanks for your comment, TT. You're right to notice the blurred lines. I think that is the point to a lot of Millennial culture. You get weird hybrids that are neither art nor science, neither technology nor politics. As for Manning, he/she is separated from this by a few degrees, which is also Millennial. I tried to think if there was a major theme, idea, or trope the Dewey-Hagbourg missed. She has whistle-blowing and WikiLeaks, genetics, 3-d printing, the economy at Davos, the Iraq and Afghan wars and an American military critique, gnostic transgenderism. Even I, who spend a lot of time keeping on top of these things, am hard pressed to see how anything more could be squeezed in there. I think the only thing she didn't cram in there was the environment. It's not science, and as far as it being a piece of art goes, tastes vary. It's not the Mona Lisa, but art is a reflection of its times and it is impressive to get all that into one cardboard box with a piece of bubble wrap. Artistically speaking, I prefer the head in the cardboard box with the bubble wrap, than its second life at Davos. Will this head last as an artistic statement? That's another question. Pop Art pieces from the 50s and 60s, which were very much of their times, are still considered valid artistically.