Just one post today… bit it’s a cracker. Symphony of Science is a small collection of songs based on quotes of scientific knowledge and philosophy from people including Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkin, David Attenborough. It’s also the first time I’ve heard a good use for a vocoder! [via]
Tattoos… Super fashionable. New tattooists setting up shops on a monthly basis. TV docu-dramas filling the airwaves with their heart-warming stories being told about the reason for every design: commemoration of relatives, friends or whatever, coming of age, new beginnings, rebellious streaks, love, cultural reasons (this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list). None of that here. It could be that ever tattoo in this book has one of those stories but you will not learn about them within these pages of the mighty Black Tattoo Art (published by Edition Reuss) that lays like a biblical tablet on my desk… Though Shall Love This Tattoo Book!
The rest of the book’s title – Modern Expressions of the Tribal – gives you much more of a clue to what’s in store for you as you settle in for a good long read. Think about where the original art-form of pure body decoration has come to from it’s humble beginnings of soot covered skin being pierced with sharp bones to it’s modern-day techniques with beautifully crafted tattoo machines and purpose-made inks. It’s a book about the changing aesthetic that’s based solely on the historic roots of skin marking.
Marisa Kakoulas has masterfully curated this particular tome pretty firmly set with skin and black ink… mostly. The actual tattoos in Black Tattoo Art’s pages are divided into five main chapters starting with Neotribal. It’s where you see how the book is laid out. You see, it’s not just photos of tattoos but also a collection of interviews with some of the most respected tattooists in each individual chapter. It’s also here that you get the kind of thing that you would imagine to be included in a book of Modern Expressions of the Tribal. These are the kind of “tribal” tattoos that you regularly see on the streets, but done really well… and I mean REALLY well. There’s not a bad tattoo on show. The twisted lines are as solid as could be and every curve is accurately spaced between the next. Every one has been created perfectly and without any imperfections. It’s an extraordinary start to the book and while the majority are densely made up there’re are lighter areas in places made up from dots, which leads us nicely to the next chapter…
Dotwork. While this chapter isn’t my favourite in the book, I have to say that it’s the most impressive. I mean, the intricacy and skill of the practitioners is pretty awe-inspiring. The thought of making up whole (or part of) images if individual dots – spaced apart by differing amounts to create shades – is a mind-blowing thought, especially as many of the leading tattooists not only tattoo with machines but also by hand… dot by dot! Actually, it’s hard to imagine how it could be done with a machine too with all those perfectly spaced dots. The focus here seems to be much more on geometric patterns rather than the twists and turns of the former chapter and, in every case, the patterns seem to fit the contours of the bodies of each individual person. Hang on… in the time it’s taken me to write this paragraph, I’ve changed my mind; I think this could be my favourite chapter!
Art Brut is the name given to the next chapter. It’s the most unique and unusual collection of tattoos that I’ve seen. Yann Black is one of the pioneers of the style and I’ve mentioned him on Ektopia in the past. However, seeing photos of his work on such a scale adds a new dimension to the amazement I previously felt when I saw his tattoos for the first time. I mean, his child-like style is superb but when you see the precision in his line thickness and for, it’s hard to believe that it’s not on flat paper. It’s this chapter that you see a bit more colour in loads of other amazing pieces from other artists. It’s all solid stuff though and seems completely appropriate for such a book.
The traditional revival is then examined and this chapter is really paying homage to where it all began. I guess that much of the tattoos on show here could have been included in other chapters without the reader knowing any different. However, this is the real deal and includes some wonderful photos of tattooists tattooing with their tools and styles bases solely on ancient designs. The author also makes no apology for not including all the artists that are responsible for continuing to uphold their ancestral skills; “To include these artists, however, would make an already heavy book impossible to lift”. The book is finished off with a smaller section of Thai/Buddhist styled tattoos, of which are unique enough to warrant their own chapter.
So, I love it. You guessed that already though, I’m sure. I’m also sure that there will never be another book about tattoos as carefully and thoughtfully researched as well as perfectly presented. It’s an excellently designed book full of brilliantly captured tattoos. You can get a copy of Black Tattoo Art: Modern Expressions of the Tribal direct from Edition Reuss and from all the usual places including Amazon UK. It’s not a cheap book but it’s not a standard kind of book either. It’s truly unique in quality and grandeur and oozes the kind of class that’s matched by the content inside. It’s massive at 31.8 x 25.6 x 4.4 cm and weighs in at 536 pages. Could it bebordering on too big? Well, not if you don’t try reading it in bed!
A heart shaped vase made by Eva Milinkovic of Tsunami Glassworks.
The Sokkomb “is a new low-cost product designed specifically for all those citizens who are so interested in Do-It-Yourself Justice. Are you full of energy? Have you lots of things to do and too little time to do them? Are you increasingly annoyed by all those criminals, immigrants and petty people who should just be got rid of? Your dynamic, active rhythm demands quick, summary justice and you are the person to do it, but too often you just don’t have the time and your family is increasingly in danger. Then you are the person we thought of when we designed “Sokkomb”, an easily-assembled guillotine for the whole family, the practical solution, quick and clean, perfect for all your security needs. By assembling Sokkomb in the comfort of your own living room, you can relax safe in the knowledge that the punishment will fit the crime. So you can finally be your own boss in your own house. Sokkomb is made from the best solid pine and comes equipped with a sturdy blade in stainless steel. It is light and versatile and is guaranteed effective for up to 100 executions a day”. [via]
Some great images of a couple of Norwegian frogmen chasing a Google Street View Van. [via]