Monday, 20 July 2009

The Clichéd Tattoo

Out buying a book of First Class, this morning, I found myself standing in the queue at my local supermarket and wondering what possesses a young man to have a large two inch ebony disk inserted into his earlobe.

He was standing in front of me in a line of customers that stretched from the one open till, around the display of discounted Jaffa cakes, and into the babycare aisle. I had at least five minutes to inspect the lad who, in addition to the ebony disc, had been riveted through the neck with a stainless-steel stud. His eyebrow was pieced by a similar lump of metalwork, his lower lip dragged south by half a dozen rings. Then there were the tattoos covering his arms in Celtic patterns that disappeared under his shirt and emerged at his neck where they ran up to his ear. There, the Northern European aesthetic met the South American influence of his tribal disc before the whole thing was rounded off with some braiding in his hair that made him resemble a Viking. It was only when I made an admiring comment about his earhoop – ‘that’s quite the thing you’ve got in your ear’ – did he start to tell me about the various piercings hidden from view. The highlight of the tour was his tongue (also studded), which he’d had surgically split so as to form a V. The effect made him look viperfish, should vipers ever visit the Co-op to buy Superbike Monthly. By the time he’d finished, I felt quite old and out of touch, standing there with my book of stamps, packet of kitchen rolls and a bottle of antibacterial handwash.

Only later did my mind turn to how mundane rebellion has become among the youth. If my young friend truly wants to look unique, he needs more imagination. Tattoos are ubiquitous these days; stapling, studding, and piercing sights common to the average high street. it comes to looking different, modern youth all look the same. If Dick Madeley were ever to customise his body, he’d be far more ambitious.

When it comes to transforming my body, I’d make use of the latest OLED technology. Placed beneath my skin, I’d turn my body into a living display. This would allow me the flexibility to respond to my surroundings like a chameleon, only I’d be showing a range of light entertainment programming. The space across my forehead I would use as a basic TV guide; the red button over my right eyebrow indicating my interactive service. The only other changed to my body I would accept would be to my earlobes, one which would serve as a beverage holder and the other as a place to hang the remote control. Naturally, such alterations would require a minimum of clothing. The traditional Indian, Khādī, would do the trick, the loose robes easily thrown aside when the need arises. In urban surroundings, I might use by body to display public art. In the countryside, I’d project documentaries about wildlife, becoming, as it were, a walking handbook of English flora and fauna. At night, I might project soothing displays, and in the morning, the latest headlines complete with news ticker around my neck.

The beauty of my plan: the whole thing would be paid for advertising and even should anybody copy me, I’d still be as unique as a channel on satellite, with my own branding and channel ident. Yes, if (I almost feel like saying ‘when’) it comes time to customise this old body of mine, I’m not going for tattoos and outdated techniques straight from the Amazonian jungle. Give me cutting edge Japanese technology and a broadcasting deal with UK Gold.


Jill Smith said...

If you do venture into decorating your body digitaly l have the exact painting to suspend on the front of your body. I have black painted cords on it and l could see them extended upwards to tie through your earlobes, would be perfect like that and it would be its first outing.
I would send the picture but don't think blogger lets you.But if the urge takes you and the urge takes you to do this and parade among the public just let me know,

The REAL Tony said...

I agree with Dick's observation that even in "rebellion" the young do so in a conformist way.
I, for instance, am planning to have a "boob job" but will have the monster mammaries applied to the top of my head.
That, believe me, is rebellion.
Tattoos, piercings & the like are merely a generational tribe statement.

Rattling On said...

Dick, the body modification sounds like a good gig.
Just do your research when choosing an installation technician. There are a lot of fly-by-nights around and you don't want to end up projecting from the wrong orifice.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Jill, I'm looking at all ways to appeal to a new audience. The more I think of augmenting my body with piercings, tattoos, LCD screens, the more I like the idea. This time next year, I might even look like David Beckham, with a small Judy spread out on the back of my neck.

The Real Tony, I was going to address this Tony confusion this afternoon but I can see that I don't need to. You'll be easily recognisable with your head-mounted boobs.

Rattling On, a very good gig, I agree. I will go the LCD route when the technology catches up with my imagination. At the moment, though the idea of projecting images from my own skin is plausible, I fear where I'd have to keep the battery pack.