Video artists Oskar & Gaspar turn beautifully tattooed bodies into dynamic works of kinetic art.
Image via Vimeo screen capture
That tattoos can be exquisite works of art is inarguable, but Portuguese projection artists Oskar & Gaspar have upped the ante in a big way, transforming tattooed bodies into incredible animations using nothing more than light and color. In a demonstration dubbed “the world’s first live tattoo video mapping event,” the duo showcased their incredible project before dazzled spectators. The audience watched as ink appeared to flow across bodies, lending motion to static patterns, giving life to previously unmoving portraits, and adding depth to a fundamentally two-dimensional medium.
The above video shows the event exactly as the audience saw it—no digital manipulation other than the projection mapping itself.
While this may be the first example of this form of tattoo animation, it is not, in fact, the first time a static ink image has been given life on a human body. In 2011, Paris-based artist K.A.R.L. created what he claimed was the first animated tattoo, which, when photographed with a smartphone, used QR code technology to launch a YouTube video of the illustration in motion:
The idea of a tattoo that could spring into action stretches back further still. The classic 1933 Marx Brothers comedy Duck Soup depicts Harpo showing off his doghouse ink, complete with actual barking dog:
Later, Ray Bradbury’s seminal 1951 short story collection, The Illustrated Man, would use the titular narrator’s moving body of ink as the framing device to connect the tales with one another.
Research scientists, too, are working on bringing tattoos to life. Advances in biodegradable circuitry over the past decade have made things such as LED-lit body art much more of a realistic possibility. For now, though, these are still theoretical applications, and unlikely to be available in the average tattoo parlor anytime soon. Still, as Oskar & Gaspar have demonstrated, animated tattoos are more than just a question of technical achievement—they’re works of art.