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2 april, 1996

Mark Taylor

SkinSc(r)apes

illustrations by Wilson Kello
how many of you have tattoos?
two admitted

that's okay, secrets can be part of it too.

many of his most interesting students started showing up with "tatts",

he noticed them in fashion magazines.

taylor by kello he began reading from prepared remarks,
flashed up a slide of a fellow with a face tattoo on his bald head, resting his forehead on his hand - clever visual pun.

Prior to 1600, in China/Japan, tattoos, involuntary, demarked punishment.

in Japan contrary to confucian founded government, tattooing became lower/middle class means of marking status, history, allegiance.
rich pattern, style, imagery arose,
Masaichi Fukushi (?), a Japanese pathologist put his skills to use and created a skin museum at the university of tokyo.

medical pathology museum of tokyo university

first visual bomb, this japanese man handling piles of richly decorated human skins.

that culture agreed to art enshrine it, still it carries a stigma,

here illegal in 7 states
noting russian gulag criminals, tats were a record of crimes
code, unspoken symbol sets, body as text.

most painful trend since whale bone corsets.

prince albert He flashed onscreen next a picture of an absurd extreme prince albert. Wilson whisked the pad out of my hands and drew that to the right.

so he wasn't afraid to shock

it wasn't quite in context,

the oldest tattoo discovered on a 2200bce female priestess egyptian mummy - mostly women tattooed back then, believed to aid resurrection/osiris ceremonies.

western tattoo extraction from south sea islanders

tattoo derived from tahitian word to strike (as in mallet on ink needle), first modern mention is Captain james cook

tattoo is for them ritual space, and can demark socio status, thus over life-time, progression.

Digging into judeo-christian,
jews generally against tattooing,

due to leviticus line that sez
you can't mark yourself to mourn the dead.
Christian tattooing ethics more complex,
because Paul, in some letter, claims to bear the marks of christ
stigmata (like Saint Francis)

Hindus and Buddhists believed tattoos could induce mystical experience.

started to realize he's not going to stop reading from prepared remarks

south sea sight Europeans brought back the south sea islanders as curios - "abberant entertainment provided by freaks"

like this dude's face,

thanks wilson

anthropology/ethnography arising, Modernist project defining other - primitive condition to be overcome
but this structure became oppressive, bvegan to engender critique and adaptation of difference.

so tattooing primitivism, reaction, but beyond simplicity grounded in 60s 70s performance art.

Los, Modernist stiff architect wrote anti-ornamentation essay.

Papuan tattoos okay, there it's socially condoned
here, tattoo denote criminals, if they haven't murdered yet, tattooed people will (text quote)

Los, humanity destined to overcome decorativ/primative art, ornamentation

culture as a process.

These tendencies toward abstraction created insubstantial works of immaterial art

conceptualoization not enough
body art - return to tangibility
body art makes the body matter in the face of dematerialization.

60s, man covers women in blue paint, they roll on canvas.
halfway steps, biting performance (no skin break, no permanence)

1971, Chris Burden has friend shoot him in the arm, claims "materialization of the idea"

'fixion April 23, 1974 Transfixed

slide of man pinned against a VW bug, wilson sketch

Burden crucifies himself in a garage on Venice Beach, away from the New York gallery scene, rejection of art

like Pop art, rejection that simultaineously subverts and affirms
cuz it's still hung on walls, distant
but tattoo as a means of popular display.

Around this time, tattoing became west coast popular, with stock images in standard colours selectable.

Cliff Raven studied with veteran Phil Sparrow, who, bored with repetition

begun incorporating oriental themes.

Raven's tattoos, free hand, custom made, full back, brgith colours

60s signs of social protest.

after his Japanese exploration

he moved toward monochromatic indonesian patterns

body mod ezine Tattoo renaissance, Tattootime Magazine

NeoTribalism became reworking ancient patterns, integrating diverse themes.

Hardy (?) the publisher praised
tattoo art really matters to people, not hanging in galleries
he borrows from cubist art, natural themes, historical reference, eclecticism
no boundaries,
perfect quote -

excited as artist in fusion, references to references
I guess that's like postmodern or something.

signs embedded in body
difference and identity,

individual and group
he lists about fourteen binary parallels

so while this inscription differentiates,

sets one apart,
the tatts are socio-cultural codes
indelable stamp of society
joining a symbolic order,
like circumcision, intitiation
body release, body affirmation
difference and identity

he starts getting pomo philosophical,

still reading from the text

those symbols, individually chosen

signify belonging,
group becomes anonymizing
new work necessary

if someone is too unique, they are unintelligable

to sever a break from society is inarticulare

these cities of light,
infinite presence through screens
as life becomes reflected infinitely in a web

reality disappears
culture of simulation, simulacrum
bringing art to life
reality-virtual

ether nets
ethereal detachment
for some immortality,
others body loss

is alienation

history is stealing the body
body in danger fosters obsession
tattoo - mark body evidence against disappearance.

life is imitating art
modern art was white washing civ of discontents,
repressive structures,
return of the repressed,
reversal of history

not distance, but re-creation of primitive.

if ornament embodies desire, then repress or indulge

duplicity of body signs
body can neither be recovered or recover
withdrawl upon approach.

so, as Nietzsche sed,
adore appearance
stop courageously at the skin.

superficial profound, profound superficial.

how convenient

jewish question - strict/liberal interp for pierce/tattoing?

well, I'm not one to overemphasize the determinability of meaning.
if you want to get tattoos,
what the hell difference does it make what the bible sez?

much looser now,
leaning causally against the side of the podium.

looks like he uses a lot of haircare products.

Distinction between tattoing and piercing, tattoo won't come off.
Tattooists/ees look down on piercing, it's not permanence.
In a world where nothing lasts, that lasts.

Marking puts body in symbolic register contradictory - flesh/image/flesh.
people see the images before those images become tattoos.

(I am reminded of jungle residents of borneo have large airplanes tattooed on their chests)

Orlan french performance artist

composite female image from the great works
undergoing pursuit; sumulcast plastic surgery
selling body parts
processes of virtualization, virtual reality
natural techno interfaces.

we can't go back to tahiti,

it never was what we thought it was.

A NYC tattooist reports most of her customers

female office workers
at points of life transition
old relationships.
responsibility/control taking.

his next book might be

picture book of fat types
he realized no one at Williams is fat
must be an admissions thing
while nearby mill town with no mill
they're what he calls "food stamp fat"
fat all over.
then there's miller time/hard hat fat
tight t-shirts, pride
white collar fat
soft in the gut, shame
shaped through health club
transforming body into image
tattooing shows us we do. martin asks about ornamentalism
fosters technology?
Los - ornament - sensuality, versus formal reason plain.
pure form is bullshit.
Derrida showed us that binaries are always heirachical
modernists set up a progression
used economic/efficiency arguments against it as well.

I approached him to make contact
having read about rhizomal interstanding,
web structures - too much
I told him I'd be sending him some e-mail.

I saw him talking to my old advisor Phil Weinstein,

big brain in the English department,
Taylor mentioned his two minute synopsis history of philosophy
Weinstein did not hide his skepticism quickly enough.

no one asked him if he has a tattoo!

again, drawings by wilson
background image stolen from urbanprimitive

so much ink, so little skin


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