Friday, February 15, 2008

Intangible Skin, Jen Rae, U of A, HL-3, Talk and Banff Studio Vist, Tuesday, February 12 and Wednesday, February 13, 2008,

Artist as researcher Jen Rae presented her ongoing research on tattooing as a means of human communication. Each tattoo reveals a personal narrative or story, from the intricate semiotics of Russian prison tattoos to the ethnographic symbologies that pervade nearly all cultures and historical civilizations.

The project includes the progressively encompassing markings on her own body, but the majority of the project has so far been focused on photographing and recording each tattooed storyteller. Mediating the narrative between the teller and the camera, Rae induces uniquely personal narratives that are then edited into a multiplicity of voices. The tellers remain anonymous, and their life size representations on backlit transmedia capture a moment of revelation. Both tattoo and teller are memorialized into a common dialogue, contributing to a rich and vast history of ritual and identity that transcends race, religion, gender, and class.

The prints will be eventually lit up to enhance the tactility of its skin, and from that there is a pale comparison to contemporary photographer Pascal Grandmaison’s portraits in their shared vulnerability. However, as the project grows, Intangible Skin differentiates itself in its mass appeal that could only strengthen its own artistic research into a broad and relevant affinity that touches beyond aesthetics and into the delicate human intricacies transcending sex, race, and age.

Image credit: Jen Rae, 2008

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