Artist Uses Robotic Printer to Print Using his Own Blood
Ted Lawson is a Brooklyn-based artist who doesn’t usually do self-portraits, but for his new exhibition, he has made an exception. In fact, he has created a robotic printer to paint his own portrait. So far, so good. But where Ted’s creation becomes more unusual is what it prints with. It’s doesn’t use ink cartridges like conventional printers, instead it prints in blood, specifically, Lawsons’s blood.
Connected directly to Lawsons’s veins, the robotic printer, called Ghost in the Machine, draws blood directly from the veins, making Lawson like a giant human ink cartridge. The blood is then funnelled around the machine and into a robotic arm attached to the device that moves around the page, carefully mapping out the artists human form. Sitting beside the machine as it works, Lawson appears visibly drained, sipping juice to replenish his blood sugar levels.
The image itself is a life-sized nude portrait of the artist, because if you’re printing in your own blood, why not? The artist says: “I’m generally not into doing selfies, particularly nude ones, but when I came up with the idea to connect my blood directly to the robot, it made too much sense to not try one as a full nude self-portrait.”
The image is printed in a dot-matrix style and pre-programmed, meaning the printer could be programmed to print other images rendered in its blood dot-matrix style. The artist considers his works to be drawings and not prints, saying “I allow the robot to make certain mistakes or leave in certain glitches on purpose.”
It’s fairly grisly and I can’t see it replacing ink cartridges as a method of printing, but it does highlight the ways in which humans and technology are expanding.