The Beautiful Gene
In September 2011 the world’s biggest sperm bank, stopped accepting red haired donors for a period: demand for them was too low compared to the supply.
Single women, who currently represent half of the customer base, tend to select donors based on the search for a “dream prince”. Increasingly, new lives are engineered in an attempt to reach a sort of personal ideal, what philosophers call individual or new eugenics. And personal ideals rarely feature red hair. After being scorned, persecuted and marginalized for centuries, could redheads now begin to be eliminated in a conspiracy of online questionnaires, aseptic clinics and frozen sperm?
As a provocation to this system, I decided to act as a conservation geneticist who would classify the genetic variation of a species in the first step to preserve its diversity and components. I started by creating a matrix that would represent the red hair gene through 48 categories, each uniquely combining this feature with five more physical traits (gender, height, build, eye color and hair type). Then I set out on a journey looking for real people who could literally embody these categories.