SNS Tattoos and the Augmented (Cyborg) Body

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There is a video floating around the internet of a woman getting 152 of her closest Facebook friends tattooed on her arm, creating a full sleeve composed of tiny profile pictures that looks like a geometric checkerboard. As a scholar and an avid tattoo collector, I find this very illuminating.


Augmented Reality Tattoos and the New Cyborg Body

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Greetings cyborgs,

I came across this interesting video last week on BME Modblog. If you are unaware, the Nintendo 3DS now offers augmented reality video games. One gamer was so excited by this new technology, he got the AR card tattooed on his forearm to allow himself to become part of the game experience itself.

This exemplifies what Nathan and others have discussed on this blog many times. That is, the merging of the digital and the material and the creation of an augmented reality. So is the man in this video truly a “cyborg?” I believe so. In fact, we all are to a certain extent. Heck, you are reading this blog right now, engaging in a dialogue with me from far away through the help of internet technology. In this sense, the Nintendo DS AR card tattoo serves as an exemplary case of modification and the new cyborg body that I have spoken about before in this blog. more...

Facial Tattoos: A New Form of Distinction

In an earlier post, I discussed growing trends of body modification as illustrative of the new cyborg body. Although it is debatable whether these trends are in fact “new,” (after all, various indigenous cultures have been practicing body modification long before European colonists began taking note of it in their travel diaries), I would like to continue this conversation by looking at one subculture of body modification: tattooing.

As an avid “tattoo collector” myself, I have spent the past few years attending tattoo conventions, hanging out with tattooers, and getting heavily tattooed, all while working on my research regarding the popularization of tattooing. What I notice are changing norms regarding appropriate use of the body as canvas. I would like to draw your attention to one particular trend that is growing in the tattoo subculture: facial tattoos.

What was once the purview only of convicted felons has become an increasingly normative way of expressing one’s commitment to the subculture. (For a case in point, simply Google “facial tattoos” and see what pops up.) What I notice from my interviews and discussions with tattooers and clients alike is a sharp disparity between those who see the face as a legitimate space for artistic display and those who see the face as “off limits.” Traditionally, tattooers were wary of getting tattooed on “public skin” (e.g., face, hands, and neck), as employment in the industry was unpredictable and one never knew if she would need to find another job amongst the masses. Having tattoos on public skin was almost certain to prevent employment. But things may be changing. more...

An Introduction to Body Modification: The New Cyborg Body

Body modification, a growing practice and subculture that now spans the world, has made extensive gains in merging the body with technology. Stretched earlobes, facial tattooing, and dermal implants have become more conspicuous as of late in many urban locales, and it is no longer surprising to find people going to greater lengths to modify their bodies in sometimes unique and shocking ways. For more examples, spend some time on one of the most popular online body modification community websites, Body Modification The site documents the diverse array of practices that members engage in to explore, test, stretch, and construct their bodies in new ways. (Warning: The content is not for the squeamish).

Particularly, I want to focus in on a few keen examples of the merging of body and technology, or as I call it, the new cyborg body. more...