[Madrigal] - First Blood

In the lectures we viewed this week I was intrigued about Kathy High’s Vampire Study Group. Not because of the emergence of the vampire culture, but of the mystic property that our blood holds. From general knowledge, we know that our blood is powerful. It is a property that gives us life and that a pint of blood can save 3 lives when we donate it to the Red Cross. There is also a saying that blood is thicker than water and have learned through history that some families have tried to keep their blood “pure” through inbreeding. When High was exhibiting Blood Wars, it gave blood another dimension to the many tropes it already has. In our blood we have Red and White blood cells. Red blood cells help transport the oxygen needed out to the body and export out carbon dioxide out of the body. White blood cells are the sentinels that guard the body from infection, or our immune system. What Kathy has done has pitted these soldiers of our body against one another and tried to determine who has the greatest army.

Picture: Macrophage (orange) surrounded by bacteria (blue) fighting off infection

I was intrigued by this concept because I took a quarter of immunology and never really thought of an art exhibit that would have two people battle each other’s immune system. This was a neat exhibit to show in a small scale of the properties of blood has on not just supporting life, but for fighting for it. We know of this small scale experiment through tissue transplantation. When organ donors are chosen, genetic similarities are important in order to have a successful transplantation. If this is not found, the immune system can amount an attack on that newly acquired organ and reject it altogether.  

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Link to video if not working still: http://vimeo.com/20421154

It was great that she challenged some of the ideas blood has gained over the years such as pure bloods, blood letting, and blue bloods, and how this life source can attack each other when not compatible. Above is a video of 2 combatants that were put in an arena where eventually the red wins out. Each blood had a nice back story to engage the audience in the imaginative spectacle of two armies battles each other. It is a bit confusing at first, but you can see that some green ones begin to disappear and red ones gain a yellowish color representing engulfment. What was neat was after the tournament was finished, the winner would receive a blood trophy at the end to signify the dominant blood.

References:

http://vampirestudygroup.com/bloodwars/

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/02/11/133655669/my-neutrophils-can-kick-your-white-blood-cells-butt

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transplant_rejection

http://www.fi.edu/learn/heart/blood/white.html

http://www.fi.edu/learn/heart/blood/red.html