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Blood, Sweat & Tears

To develop photos the old-fashioned way, you need fluids.

For most, those fluids are chemicals. Los Angeles artist Matthew Brandt gets his liquids from the subjects of his photography.

He uses mucus, saliva, breast milk and other precious bodily fluids.

Over the years, this dark-room chemist has used salt-rich bodily fluids and other liquids: mustard, crushed honeybees and soy sauce.

He's looking for the perfect chemical cocktail to infuse his photographs with physical meaning.

Brandt combines these salt-rich liquids with developer chemicals to make light-sensitive photo paper. Each everyday liquid reacts differently (Slide 7).

After he settles on a recipe, he exposes the photo paper outside in the sun.

Brandt said he's not doing anything different than the pioneers of photo printing. They tinkered around and mixed different substances to achieve different looks, he said. One of the first printing methods used egg whites to bind the chemicals onto the paper.

"Certain conventions have become locked into place out of convenience and industrialism that makes us have these particular associations with photography," Brandt said.

Brandt printed photographs of lakes using the lake's water, and coffee to print portraits taken at Starbucks.

Recently, Brandt has been working with some cocaine prints, too.

Matthew Brandt has a solo exhibition called "Water & Polaroid" at Highlight Gallery in San Francisco from April 4 – May 18.

Others have taken it a step further. Two art students in the UK swallowed frames of 35mm film and printed it once it made its way through their system.

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