Blasts

 
Series
Blood Work
Artist
Creation date
Materials
high-definition D-VHS tape
Dimensions
4 1/8 x 7 1/2 x 1 in.
Credit line
Purchased with funds provided by Lynn Burnside Smith II in memory of his parents Mr. and Mrs. John Burnside Smith
Accession number
2005.38B
Collection
Not Currently On View

Arthur Liou developed Blood Work in response to his daughter Vivian's battle with leukemia. The three videos each show forms suggestive of internal organs, magnified to the point of distortion. Liou digitally inserted images of his infant daughter crawling, walking, and running, so that the sequence of videos not only follows Vivian's illness and recovery process but also marks Liou's experiences as a father witnessing his child's growth.

CBC (Complete Blood Counts) presents hundreds of infants crawling through a field awash in shades of red. The scene fades into a gray, static mass, and a deluge of red descends from the top of the screen, bringing with it another infusion of tiny bodies in motion. The process refers to cycles of attack, cell death, and regeneration experienced during blood transfusions.

Blasts takes its title from lymphoblasts, or immature white blood cells, that invade bone marrow and prevent the production of normal blood cells. The video shows thousands of abstracted images of Vivian's feet in various scales. A child's voice repeats the words, "I'm going to get better, I want it to go away." The building intensity of the images and soundtrack metaphorically refers to cycles of the disease and treatment.

Hairline addresses hair loss, one of the most common visible side effects of chemotherapy. The video presents an overhead view of a deep space, wherein babies appear to leap upwards, multiplying and gradually fading into white light. Liou focused on a yearlong period during which Vivian lost all of her hair. She and her family watched it slowly replenish along with her health. Sound artist Shawn Decker collaborated with Liou to create the soundtrack for this piece.

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