An image of a Blood Sculpture produced at my BioHacking The Body Workshop using blood from donor sheep, BOM, Birmingham
Blood Sculptures, are a series of new and evolving works that explore blood, its biochemistry, and the human culture that relates to it. They also reflect the autogenic nature of much of my work, and the use of materials that are both uncontrollable and unpredictable.
Blood possesses a highly complex and life supporting biochemistry, and many of its components have ancient evolutionary origins in bacteria, for example, haemoglobin and the enzyme catalase. In their realisation, Blood Sculptures reveal this ancient biochemistry. These autogenic and ephemeral sculptures are formed by mixing blood with hydrogen peroxide and detergent. The catalase enzyme present in blood has one of the highest turnover rates of any known enzyme, so that one catalase molecule can convert millions of hydrogen peroxide molecules into water and oxygen gas every second. This catalysis, and the rapid liberation of bubbles of elemental oxygen, drives the formation of bloody foaming structures, and produces a substance that grows and develops organically. The sculptures, resemble Roger Hiorns’ Untiled sculptures, in which ceramic vessels slowly produce pillars of foam, but here the foam is powered by a vital and intimate human biochemistry.
Below are the first two tests for Blood Sculptures made in this case using blood from donor sheep.
The sheep’s blood prior to the addition of hydrogen peroxide
Tests for Blood Sculpture using blood from donor sheep (below).
The Blood Sculptures below were made by participants at my recent BioHack The Body Workshop at I ran at BOM, Birmingham.
Blood Sculpture made using blood from donor sheep at a BOM workshop (below)
In the latest development of this process, I’ve been using my own blood and old glass medical device and bottles as in the video below. I’m struck by the way in which my own blood produces a substance that rapidly grows and develops organically, so that it seems to consume the glass bottle, much like one of the white blood cells within it, would engulf an invading bacterial pathogen, linking the microscopic to the macroscopic.
Blood Sculpture 2017. Media Human Blood, Hydrogen Peroxide and Detergent
The sculptures formed are ephemeral, and have a very short life-cycle. As the gaseous oxygen escapes the foam to the atmosphere, the sculptures soon collapse. During this process, the foam develops an almost ghost-like quality until it finally collapses into a bloody and sticky entropic residue, perhaps reflecting our own existences. This process is captured into the time-lapse video below.
Below are images of the a bloody and sticky entropic residue.