The Genetic Portrait Project: Herron Professor documents people’s perceptions of genetic research through photographs

Stefan Petranek

Stefan Petranek

Stefan Petranek, assistant professor of photography and intermedia at IUPUI’s Herron School of Art and Design, has taken an unusual approach to collecting people’s thoughts on science. With a marker and poster board in hand, Petranek asks individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds to consider “how the future will be affected by genetic research.” He then photographs his volunteers holding their message. In the last four years, Petranek has photographed over 400 individuals creating a noteworthy catalogue of responses that reflect the diversity of ethical concerns and technological promise this expansive field of science offers society.

As researchers’ ability to manipulate DNA for a wide array of biological issues, from human health to agricultural production advance, the influence of DNA-based technologies on our daily lives has grown exponentially. Yet there is little research which tracks Americans’ perceptions of these technologies. The Genetic Portrait Project grew out of Petranek’s ongoing artwork about the pyscho-social implications of a genetically advanced world and his interest in how others were grappling with the same issues. The project represents the first-ever visual documentary of individuals’ perceptions on science.

Petranek has photographed several high profile individuals for the project including Dr. Eric Green, Director of the National Human Genomic Research Institute at NIH, and internationally known artist, Mark Dion. He has also photographed individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including soliciting people off the streets from cities like Indianapolis, Boston, and Portland, OR to participate. Recently, Petranek has focused on creating interactive initiatives at genetic and bioethics conferences. In 2014, he photographed attendees at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) Annual Meeting, the world’s largest genetics conference. His photographs have been exhibited nationally and were recently published in Frontline Genomic Magazine’s March issue. To see more portraits you can visit Petranek’s website and the Project’s Facebook page.

In the near future, Petranek plans to create a website that will allow people to participate autonomously, creating an international repository of photographic portraits dedicated to documenting thoughts on genetics at this moment in history.

E.O. Wilson and Katherine Hayles “What Makes us Human?”

Entanglements Lecture Series
E.O. Wilson and Katherine Hayles, “What Makes us Human?”
October 8, 2014 | 7:00-8:45
Indianapolis Central Library, Clowes Auditorium
Click here for free tickets

When did we become human? Are human and animal societies that much different? Do we already live in an age of cyborgs?

E.O. Wilson and Katherine Hayles visit Indianapolis as part of the new IAHI Entanglements Lecture Series.  Entanglements brings together scientists, humanists, and artists to discuss “big questions” that affect all of us.

At our inaugural event, E.O. Wilson, two-time Pulitzer Prize winning biologist, will join Katherine Hayles, specialist in the culture of cyborgs and virtual bodies, in a conversation that will take us on a journey to answer one of humanity’s most fundamental questions: “What makes us human?”

Over the course of this evening, Wilson and Hayles will discuss the evolution of human consciousness, the relationship between biology, society, culture, and technology, and the future of humanity.  This will be an event that changes the way you think about yourself and your world.

EO WilsonDr. E.O. Wilson is Professor Emeritus and Honorary Curator in Entomology at Harvard University.  He is a two time Pulitzer Prize winner, a National Medal of Science awardee, a Crafoord Prize recipient (given by the Academy in fields of science it does not cover by the Nobel Prize), and a TED Prize Winner.  In fact, he has received over 100 awards throughout his career. He is the author of numerous books, including Sociobiology, The Ants, The Diversity of Life, Consilience, The Social Conquest of Earth, and Letters to a Young Scientist.  During his career he has explored the biggest questions through the littlest creatures — ants. He is a prominent environmental advocate, and in March 2014, the government of Mozambique opened the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory in Gorongosa National Park — a tribute to Wilson’s worldwide impact.

Katherine HaylesDr. Katherine Hayles is Professor of Literature at Duke University.  Her book, How We Became Posthuman, published in 1999, was named one of the best 25 books of 1999 by The Village Voice and received the Rene Wellek Prize for Best Book in Literary Theory.  She is the author of multiple books, including The Cosmic Web, Chaos Bound, Writing Machines, How We Think, and My Mother Was a Computer.  A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEH Fellowships, a Rockefeller Residential Fellowship, and a National Humanities Center Fellowship, Dr. Hayles  is a leading social and literary critic with interests in cyborg anthropology, digital humanities, electronic literature, science and technology, science fiction, and critical theory.

The Entanglements Lecture Series is made possible through the generous support of the Efroymson Family Fund, a CICF Fund, the IU School of Dentistry, and the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

This event is a collaboration between the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, Indiana Humanities, and the Spirit and Place Festival.

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Lecture: Anne-Marie Duguet, “Protection of Genetic Information in Europe and in France”

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Health Information Translational Science Building, Room 1130
410 West 10th St.

The IU Center for Bioethics will present “Protection of Genetic Information in Europe and in France. The speaker will be Anne-Marie Duguet, M.D., Ph.D, Senior Lecturer at the Medicine Faculty Toulouse Purpan (Paul Sabatier University) where she teaches medical law and bioethics. Among an impressive list of accomplishments, she is also a member of the advisory board of the European Journal of Health Law and the Secretary of the European Association for Health Law.

In 2010, she was appointed visiting professor for 3 years by the Dalian Medical University and the Hainan Medical University in China. In 2011, she was honored by the decoration of “the Palmes Academiques.”

Arrangements for Dr. Duguet’s visit are a collaborative effort between the IU Center for Bioethics, the Robert H. McKinney School of Law and the Fairbanks School of Public Health.

For more information or questions to Eva Jackson at 278-4034 or