Scary art-cameras made from human remains, HIV+ blood and tragic objects

Richard sez, "Boy of Blue's cameras are works of art, sort of like Roger Wood's clocks, but these contraptions are more dangerous (on more than one level), incorporating actual skulls, insects and HIV+ blood." These are squicky and amazing.

4"x5" camera made from Aluminium, Copper, Titanium, Acrylic and HIV positive blood. The blood pumps through the camera then in front of the pinhole and becomes my #25 red filter. Designed to shoot a geographic comparison of people suffering from HIV.
Link (Thanks, Richard!)


  1. It wouldn’t be physically dangerous to use HIV+ blood, because the virus isn’t exactly hardy outside the body, and in any case, the amount of anti-coagulant needed to keep the blood liquid would be toxic to just about anything.
    Conceptually I can’t decide how I feel about it. It’s simultaneously morbid and fascinating. It certainly makes a point about the medium being part of the message…

  2. I agree. I think this takes the “message” a little too far. It’s an impressive piece of engineering however.

    @Subtle_Turtle: Would you still need the anti-coagulant if the system was air-tight? I’m not a biologist at all but am morbidly curious since you brought it up. :)

  3. And then when a security goon tries to stop you from shooting pictures in a public place, you can scare him off with the camera.

  4. These seem like props from the serial killer’s basement workshop. “I am becoming, and these are the tools of my transformation…”

  5. @Barnaby:

    Blood coagulation is caused by enzyme activity (The main enzyme is called “Factor VII”) altering blood components (mostly platelets) to make them sticky so they clump together. Oxygen isn’t required for this process.

    The cascade of enzyme activations can be triggered by several things, usually signals released by damaged epithelial tissues.

    I agree with Subtle_turtle that HIV is unusually unstable outside its host. I don’t know enough about anticoagulants to guess their effect but I expect (s)he’s correct that they’d degrade the virus.

  6. Hi. I’m the guy that made the camera. You guys are right. The virus has been dead for quite sometime. It doesn’t do well out side the body. So the camera isn’t very toxic. That really helps when I’m shipping work to Museums and galleries in Europe.
    To stabilize the blood I pumped nitrogen through the camera before the blood was added and the blood went through a 24 bubble bath of nitrogen so the system is oxygen free. 80 % of the compound in the camera is a mixture of Heparin and Sodium Chloride. The only real trouble I have had is the rare earth magnet effecting the iron in some of the platelets.

    Ah… serial killer’s basement workshop… That’s a first.

    Some info on the camera from a recent interview in Light Leaks Magazine;
    The Untouchable or HIV Camera started with a conversation with my friend about what his life has been like before and after being diagnosed HIV positive. In our conversations it was clear I couldn’t see the world the way he does. The way people see him. The stigma of HIV. And what daily life is like living with an unseen villain that is always battling inside. I spent a bit of time in India and his story reminded me of the untouchables in India, so that’s why I named the camera “Untouchable”.
    The camera has three clear cylinders that the HIV+ blood circulates through with the help of a pump I made from Rare Earth Magnets that slides on Titanium rails. The blood then flows between two sheets of Acrylic that are five thousands of a inch apart and mounted right in front of the pinhole. I tested with my own blood and a light meter and at five thousands of an inch thick, the blood (after mixing with the right combinations of Heparin as an anticoagulant and Sodium Chloride 9% to stabilize) has the same light restriction as a #25 red filter.
    Every part I fabricated from solid blocks Aircraft grade aluminum, titanium and copper. The only parts I didn’t make were the 10,000 psi military aircraft hydraulic lines and fittings in the front of the camera. Military grade titanium nuts, bolts and screws that hold every thing together. The camera has a total of 127 parts and is the most complex camera I have made, thus far.
    The photo series the camera is designed for, is a study of people living with HIV and AIDS. All photographs are shot through and altered by HIV positive blood. So far Untouchable has photographed about 14 people in San Francisco. This year I’m hoping to take the camera to South Africa and Calcutta for a geographic comparison of people with the virus. A study of how location makes all the difference in your quality of life and survival when living with HIV and AIDS.

  7. 80% heparin will kill most anything… It’s pretty toxic stuff in concentration.
    I really like the craftsmanship you have. That’s some amazing work you did!
    When you show the photos, will you show the camera with them? It would be an odd but interesting experiment to do one show with the camera and one where you don’t mention the camera used in any way and judge people’s reactions in each. I think the camera itself is such an evocative piece on it’s own, and I know I would look at photos taken with it differently than ones shot on a plain film camera.

  8. I’ll tolerate this, but when Casio comes out with their new line of HIV+ blood camera, that’s where I draw the line!

  9. wow….
    This makes me feel kind of ill and is definitely very freaky. It seems that the motivation behind it was genuine, rather than just “ooh – lets try and be shocking”. That “lets be shocking” stuff is pathetic and generally not very interesting. I think that if this was not genuinely motivated, it would not have been so well made, or effective.

  10. “80% heparin will kill most anything… It’s pretty toxic stuff in concentration.
    I really like the craftsmanship you have. That’s some amazing work you did!
    When you show the photos, will you show the camera with them?”

    The 80% is Heparin and Sodium Chloride. The Heparin is around 10%. I usually show the camera with three images shot from it. Camera and photos are equal parts of an installation that focuses on the subject they were created for. Some of the installations get quite elaborate. I just sent Yama (A stereo camera through the eyes of a 500 year old Tibetan skull designed to study exodus) to Berlin for a show and the whole installation weighed 270lbs. Shipping was a bit pricey, but they seem to love and really connect with the work in the EU. It is nice when people see the work and feel they have a new in-depth view on a subject they would normally shy away from.

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