Masters Thesis

Performative plasma: scientific voyeurism, identity and the evolution of blood art since 1990

Making use of blood—the ever-alluring plasma coursing through one’s veins—as an aesthetic focal point in the creation of artwork is not a conceptually novel idea. Blood works have existed from the time of the earliest civilizations. For instance, Mayan sacrificial ceremonies and corresponding artifacts, depictions of The Passion of Christ, portraits of European nobility, and performance art of the sixties and seventies making reference to the ritual symbolism of blood-laden ceremony. Perhaps as a result, the current use of blood as a creative medium is somewhat less beguiling to a modern artviewing audience. With the invention of the World Wide Web in 1990 and the home computing boom thereafter, a contemporary audience is constantly bombarded with visual imagery and easily accessible depictions of bodily fluids. In the current cultural atmosphere rife with surface-level interactions, self-indulgence and detachment, what imperative purpose does this viscerous material serve in art?