Artist uses his own blood to machine print selfie (Wired UK)


Lawson turned a nude photograph of himself into code, and that code was translated into a pixelated version of himself by a CNC milling machine with a brush attached

TED LAWSON


This is a selfie made of blood. Yes, real,
straight-from-veins-of-a-human blood. The human you’re looking at
is Ted Lawson, an artist living in Brooklyn. These are his first
blood paintings. Lawson created the works for an upcoming
exhibition, The Map Is Not the Territory, opening September
11 at the Joseph Gross Gallery in NYC, and it should be noted
that he didn’t originally set out to paint with his vital fluids.
Then again, who does?

The whole weird thing came about as a larger investigation into
how Lawson could use a CNC milling machine in
new ways to create his artworks. You’ll notice the blood is
actually dispensed onto a brush controlled by the CNC’s robotic
arm.

One day as an experiment, Lawson hooked up a pen to the CNC
machine’s arm to see how it might draw. It drew really well! “I was
doing a drawing of the moon and thought, ‘Oh, this could be really
cool to do in my own blood,’” he recalls. “It was a logical
progression.” Any logicality involving drawing with your own blood
is debatable, but Lawson persisted and adapted his process to
replace traditional ink with body ink.

To make his selfie, Lawson began by taking a photo of himself in
the nude. In Illustrator he rendered the photo into vectors then
used Rhino to turn the art into code that the CNC machine
could read. Lawson hooked himself up to a needle and funnelled
his blood into the machine like one might do with ink. The machine
dispensed lines of blood, creating a pixelated version of Lawson’s
original photo. “If you’re right up close to it, you can almost see
the lines of code,” he says of the artwork.

Ghost In The Machine (blood robot selfie)Ted Lawson

Blood isn’t an easy medium

The issue with blood, or any other liquid for that matter, is that
it tends to pool on paper. To combat this, Lawson constructed a
completely flat table and used a vacuum to suck the paper against
it as tightly as possible. This allowed the blood to dispense
evenly onto the paper, reducing the risk of globbing. After the
paintings were finished, Lawson sprayed them with an acrylic
fixative — “So they don’t rot,” he notes.

There’s a trick to making a good blood painting. Lawson’s
involves lots of water and a pre blood-letting cheeseburger. “I
found that fatty foods make for a nicer flow,” he explains. Lots of
practice helps, too. Lawson experimented with making two full-sized
selfies before he finished the final painting. The selfie painting
took around three hours to complete, but Lawson says the total
blood used is probably less than what you’d regularly donate.

Despite describing himself as squeamish when it comes to blood
and needles, the artist has found that if you stick a needle in
your arm enough times, it gets easier to ignore. “Blood is just a
medium,” he says. “When you focus on something other than yourself,
like making a drawing, it becomes ink and stops being blood.”

This article originally appeared on Wired.com

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5 September 2014 | 10:40 am – Source: wired.co.uk

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