In the age of smart phones and cameras, we are all guilty of the occasional “selfie”. But what if you could use your selfie in a CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machine to make that photo into a portrait of yourself — out of your own blood. That’s what artist Ted Lawson did.
The CNC machine was originally programmed to paint with a self-filling brush and ink device, but Lawson hacked it to hook up to his arm and use his own blood while it paints. It was not an easy process. It took several hours and used quite a bit of blood. He had to eat fruit juice and eat biscuits in order to keep hydrated, and so that he didn’t pass out. And he spent a lot of time making adjustments like creating a vacuum to keep the paper from curling up as the blood saturated the paper, and using tweezers to manually adjust the brush as it painted. But he also allowed errors and glitches to be part of the drawing because he felt the random events made a deeper connection between the code used by the computer and the machine and the much more organic code that is present in blood and DNA and everything else. The project, aptly titled Drawing Blood, is part of a series of CNC based artworks called The Map Is Not The Territory that explores the way we perceive reality by abstracting or mapping it, and the role that technology plays in the process. You can check out more about the design process here.