robotic blood printer draws ted lawson's nude self-portrait
robotic blood printer draws ted lawson's nude self-portrait
aug 26, 2014

robotic blood printer draws ted lawson's nude self-portrait

robotic blood printer draws ted lawson’s nude self-portrait
all images courtesy of ted lawson




‘drawing blood’ takes on a different description for brooklyn-based artist ted lawson‘s ‘ghost in the machine’: a life-sized, nude self-portrait rendered from his own bodily fluid. fed intravenously to a CNC machine, lawson’s blood traverses through the mechanical parts, while a robotic arm attached to the device — programmed to trace the designated illustration — carefully maps out the human form.


‘I have always used many different technologies to create my work and the goal is usually to find a way to turn those towards something organic and human. lawson tells us ‘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 CNC machine, it just made too much sense to not try one as a full nude self-portrait.’



ghost in the machine (blood robot selfie)
video courtesy of ted lawson



‘in this series I’m really just trying to make a good drawing, which requires a lot of process and spontaneity to achieve. I do consider these works to be drawings and not prints, in that I allow the robot to make certain mistakes or leave in certain glitches on purpose. there are always a number of chance occurrences that happen outside of the programming which I tend to change and develop as the drawing proceeds.’


I want to show the connection between our existential humanity and the ever-expanding technology that we use, are addicted to and rely on, as something deeply personal and very real.’ says lawson of the piece’s significance ‘I’m trying to reveal the underlying code that is present in all things.’


‘ghost in the machine’ is part of the solo exhibition ‘the map is not the territory‘ at joseph gross gallery, new york from september 11th through october 4th, 2014.

ted lawson prints self-portrait with robotic blood machine
lawson moves around the room while attached to the printer through an IV

ted lawson prints self-portrait with robotic blood machine
the artist maintained his blood sugar during the process by drinking juice

the printer, drawing using blood
gif by designboom

ted lawson prints self-portrait with robotic blood machine
waiting as the robotic blood printer draws his self-portrait

ted lawson prints self-portrait with robotic blood machine
lines drawn by the robotic arm

robotic blood printer draws ted lawson's nude self-portrait
the final work

  • Seems like a waste of blood when somewhere between 3 and 12 lives could have been saved if it had been donated. Blood colored ink would have worked just as well. Oh, yeah, I forgot, it takes “self” out of the self portrait. Love the finished piece, but would have loved it in ink just as well.

    Robert Milberg says:
  • damn.

    reza says:
  • @RoberMilberg you serious?

    mario says:
  • Well, are you, Robert?

    jan says:
  • @Nina – It doesn’t work if it’s in ink. That would completely change the energy of the piece. The goal wasn’t just a drawing–there’s nothing new or unique about that.

    Ryan says:

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