Tattoo On You

Hard Times Drive Some to
Sell Ad Space on Own Bodies

A German man is offering his face to advertisers, so he may pay some overdue bills. A Californian woman has shaved her head, so she can receive a temporary tattoo in exchange for some badly needed cash. Another, from New Zealand, is actually auctioning a small area of her own buttocks for bidders to imprint their messages. Necks, arms, bellies and forehands seem fair game for ad placement these days.
In some cases, there’s a whole back story most people can relate to. Take the two Cambridge University graduate students who put up a Web site offering their (face) cheeks in exchange for tuition money. But if they and a few others have the good sense of only er, renting their body parts, a lot of people getting into this desperate bandwagon are going for permanent tattoos.
There used to be a time when artists and performers, at sideshows and cheap circuses, would never consider tattooing their own faces. And even if they’d be willing to do it so, it’d be hard to find anyone who’d draw on them. It was some kind of unwritten rule, that made a lot of sense for those quaint times, you’d probably add. No longer. Today, most go for it with gusto.
Still, we’re talking about artistic expression here, from performers and people who make a living entertaining audiences of the cheap but always reliable thrill of old-fashioned carny shows. It’s a completely Continue reading

About Face

We Don’t Need Another Friend, but Don’t
Throw the Book at Social Networking Yet

Facebook’s discreet rollout of its Face-Recognition feature, which so incensed its users, shouldn’t have caught anyone without their shirts on, as it just reaffirms a pattern.
After all, this is the same company that just last fall was accused of sending users’ personal information to dozens of advertising and Internet monitoring companies. Then, as now, Facebook’s attitude was less than up-front about it.
The fact that overnight billionaire founder Mark Zuckerberg has a complicate public image doesn’t endear him either. A Continue reading

You Belong to Me

The Branding of Young
Girls By Sex Traffickers

For millennia, the art of tattoo has served to ritualistic beautify the body, make statements about deeply personal or communally shared beliefs, and as a powerful element of mystical identification.
As purely an art form, the practice of covering the body with tattoos is also a way of wearing a particularly transcendental vision, which can transform the skin into a malleable canvas of abstract or realistic depictions of deities, realities and narratives.
They can be illustrations telling fantastic stories about that person’s inner life, his or her ancestors, places they belong to or aim to reach at the end of their journeys.
But along the years, the practice also became an unmistakable sign of ownership, a synonymous of proprietary rights over that individual, a warning that such body belongs to someone else. Just like animals being branded with the logo of their masters.
Today, tattooing and branding are virtually indistinguishable. Continue reading