Invisible includes a suit of two products that can be used like a disinfectant spray—”Erase” removes 99.5% of DNA material on any surface while “Replace” obfuscates the remaining .5% through a cloaking mist of arbitrary genetic gunk. “Instead of subjecting their own DNA to covert analysis, Invisible customers can leave an alternate DNA sample, designed for their protection,” writes the Invisible website.
It’s tough to fully believe this is a product that will eventually be sold in your average Duane Reade. Yet Invisible is persistent in its seriousness. From its press release: “DNA is routinely extracted and often stored from infants at birth…and law enforcement now routinely profiles individuals convicted of even petty crimes, tending toward permanent storage of both profiles and biological samples form individuals arrested for but never convicted of a crime.” It also includes statistics such as that it only takes .5 nanograms of DNA required for standard forensic analysis, and that there is 108 nanograms of DNA in a microliter of saliva. Even if the risk of genetic theft isn’t a real concern (yet), we’re definitely leaving identifying material all over the place.
Though it all sounds like a sci-fi conceptual art project, we’re pretty certain this isn’t a ploy. For one thing, it was created by Heather Dewey-Hagborg, known for her Stranger Visions project where she picked up stray hairs, finger nails, and other genetic material found in public places and used the DNA contained to construct speculative portraits of what the “anonymous shedders” might look like based on their genetic profiles. Secondly, though Invisible’s website incorporates plenty of fear mongering, it also includes a litany of peer-refereed sources about synthesized DNA and genetic crime that are convincing enough to make any skeptic realize that faking DNA or stealing others’ is not an impossibility. Either way, if the ratings of CSI are any indication, we’re sure this will some market value.