Radical Love is a 3D portrait of Chelsea Manning is serving in prison for past 35 years for exposing U.S government’s information form WikiLeaks (Doctorow, Cory 2016).
Heather Dewey-Hagborg created this art piece, and it was presented in World Economic Forum Annual Meeting held in January 2016.
Heather Dewey Hagborg is a Bio-artist who acts as a bio-hacker. She collects cigarettes and hairs of strangers. Base on those things she collects with people’s DNA, she remakes the 3D printed portrait of those people.
In her project ‘Radical Love’, the 3D portrait is generated from the DNA of Chelsea Manning, who was transformed gender to female in 2013.
Chelsea Manning was named Bradley Edward Manning, and he was an American solider. She disclosed nearly 750 thousands of US military’s documents herself to WikiLeaks. Chelsea Manning’s crime penalty is that she will be in prison for nearly 35years.
Back to Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s artwork- “Radical Love”, as the picture of Chelsea’s portrait showed, there exists obviously details about the difference between how Chelsea Manning’s face looks like now and how her face appearance looked like when she was male. In Heather’s speech “I steal DNA from strangers” from TED. She stated that the reason of collecting DNA, is because she wanted to investigate the people’s gender identities. Heather’s purpose also includes finding the relationships between people’s DNA phenotyping and portrait:
The technique used in the portrait was forensic DNA phenotyping. The portrait mask was created through a 3D printer (Tumblr.fightforthefuture.org, 2016).
Thus, Chelsea Manning’s DNA is a good sample for Heather to use in her artwork ‘Radical Love’.
The title of the artwork, ‘Radical Love’ depicts its central theme, Chelsea keep resistance from social ideas to persevere in transforming gender, and she strongly considered herself and her beliefs as radical. Thus, this art piece showed an illustration of visibility and transformation:
“It is mentioned in an article that Manning was not seen during her time of gender transformation, but the artwork helped in making visible the hidden or invisible” (XYZ Lab, 2016).
Moreover, in this artwork, Heather Dewey-Hagborg represented her idea though an optimistic approach: which is moving from social political limits to regard Chelsea Manning’s case through the starting point of concern and love(Tumblr.fightforthefuture.org, 2016).
Therefore, in ‘Radical Love’, Heather considered to use Chelsea Manning’ DNA to state what she believed, and what she wished at time when she didn’t get gender-transforming operation.
Radical love can be compared to another artwork of Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s another art piece called Stranger Vision. The artwork is a combination of science and art with the use of DNA. Heather Dewey-Hagborg designed Stranger Vision portrait from a sample of cigarette in New York City. Then she collected the samples of strangers’ hair, cigarettes to try to investigate their portrait. This artwork is similar to Radical Love because of using DNA and 3D printer in creating an object. More importantly, this art piece points out Heather’s strong idea about distinguishing strangers’ identity through their DNA.
Based on 3D printing, Joshua Harker created a sculpture of Crania Anatomica Fillgre. This art piece is known to the most funded 3D sculpture project. This 3D sculpture is beautifully designed with intricate work done by 3D printer. This artwork resembles with Radical love because of the idea of using of 3D printing technology for people’s skull. However, it differs from Radical Love because it is not created through DNA phenotyping process.
Overall, Radical love is a reflective bio-artwork that conveys the message of thinking outside the box. The artwork reveals the story of Chelsea Manning and relates to the cultural issue of unacceptance and invisibility of some people who focus on freedom of speech, revealing scandals, even some of them know they will become prisoners. It also shows that American society is dependent on imagery for saying about cultural and social values. Because of this reason, Heather Dewey-Hagborg used artwork to highlight a social and cultural issue. Moreover, the artwork also elaborates the acceptance of DNA art in American society. Artists like Heather Dewey-Hagborg are replying on DNA art or 3D designs to convey a message to people. The artwork also facilitated in reflecting on the challenges of gender transformation.
Radical Love is presented at following exhibitions:
Victoria and Albert exhibition
Annual meeting of World Economic Forum
Future Design exhibition
Doctorow, Cory. (January 25, 2016). Chelsea Manning interview: DNA, big data, official secrecy, and citizenship. Retrieved May 02, 2016, from http://boingboing.net/2016/01/25/chelsea-manning-interview-dna.html
Deweyhagborg.com (2016). Radical Love: Chelsea Manning. Retrieved from: http://deweyhagborg.com/projects/radical-love
Marcomahler.com (n.d). 3D Printing Artists. Retrieved from: http://www.marcomahler.com/3d-printing-artist-sculpture-art/
Tumblr.fightforthefuture.org (January 13, 2016). New art exhibit features life-size 3D portraits of Chelsea Manning based on her DNA. Retrieved from: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/137223048378/new-art-exhibit-features-life-size-3d-portraits-of
Wikipedia (n.d). Heather Dewey-Hagborg. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heather_Dewey-Hagborg
XYZ Lab (January 21, 2016). Radical Love: Chelsea Manning by Heather Dewey-Hagborg. Retrieved from: http://umnxyzlab.blogspot.com/2016/01/radical-love-chelsea-manning-by-heather.html