Sketchbook Page 1: Down to the Bone
January 6, 2010 § 2 Comments
In Franz Kafka’s short story ‘In the Penal Settlement’ a criminal is punished by having the cause of his crime incised into his body by a monstrous machine. It is only at the moment of the final, bone-deep, fatal incision that the nature of his crime is revealed to him. In Moby Dick Queequeg transcribes the mystical patterns from his tattooed body onto his coffin; copying them from his living skin onto the dead wood.
Leopards carry their markings beneath their fur – their spots are, in effect, tattooed upon the skin. Recent research into oxygen isotopes has revealed that our teeth carry evidence of our passage through life (I’m thinking of the example of the British Bronze Age archer that travelled all the way to Austria – we know this by the signature imprinted in his dental records by the alpine water that he drank).
I want to pursue the idea of wearing something that carries information beneath the skin; perhaps a hidden (buried?) familial tattoo that identifies mammals as members of the same clan. This might be a way of making visible the patterns of evolution through genetic coding and could, in appearance, be much like the patterning that occurs on a number of creatures (from orcas to butterflies) that have developed through the processes of sexual selection.
It is also a means of creatively drawing the surface (the tattooed skin) inwards and of drawing the concealed interior (the bones, masked beneath the flesh except in death) outwards.
P.S. Just learned of Talpa gigantea, a species of giant mole. The only evidence found so far is a humerus measuring 35 cm in length.