Basse Stittgen Blood Objects


Can blood be made into plastic? Would you want to touch an object made from HIV+ blood?

Animal blood objects
Blood tells a thousand stories and every story is loaded with meaning. They speak of heritage, mysticism, aversion and, in the end, life and death. However, none of these stories refer to blood as a waste material. Can blood also be understood as a simple but important biomaterial generated from the waste of slaughterhouses – one of the biggest industries in the world?

By representing both life and death, blood is defined vis-a-vis a contradiction. Divergence between the poetic and material creates sharp contrasts, embodied in a biomaterial resulting out of an industrial mass slaughter of animals. This project explores the possibilities of blood as a material. The objects made from it interplay between the strong symbolic meaning of blood and its physicality.

Human blood objects
Exploring the science and stigma behind blood infections, this work uses the blood of people with major infectious diseases – human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis virus – to create completely sterile, functional products. These objects further confront the visitor with the taboo of blood being used as a practical material.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, the average risk of HIV infection from a needle-stick exposure to HIV-infected blood is 0.3%, while the risk from
exposure to hepatitis B virus-infected blood can be up to 30%.

Heating the blood to over 120°C sterilises the sample and renders it non-infectious. Similarly, treatments are now available for HIV, which result in the virus being undetectable in someone’s blood. Yet why are some people still uncomfortable to hold these products knowing there is no infectious risk? Is it similar to the reason why some people will not touch someone who is HIV+? Such cultural stigma is an everyday reality for many people living with major blood-borne infections.

Objects made from animal and human blood, 2017
Image: courtesy of the artist

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The Artist: Basse Stittgen

Basse Stittgen is a designer from Germany currently finishing a Master of Social Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven. His interests as a designer lie in material research and the possibilities of new materials, along with the interaction between the user and the object.