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Cutting Myself Open To Find My Circuitry

Circuitry is amazing. Every tiny little detail dictates exactly how something works. Beautifully organized perfection. Yet, when placed inside a musical instrument, it can create chaotic, discordant noise.

I wanted to put that on my body somehow, but I realized I didn't want a tattoo because a tattoo felt too perfect. I loved the idea of carving circuitry into my skin, as if it had been there all along only to just be exposed now, the inner workings of my soul for all to see.

So I decided to try my hand at my third ink rubbing. I sat and thought about where it belonged. I decided on the inside of my left leg. Immediately, I was very nervous, because 1. scarification of any sort is much harder to explain to people than a tattoo, and 2. it would be visible if i wore shorts, even the long ones that I like to wear. (and since I go to school in Savannah, GA, I wear them quite a lot!)

Then I went beyond those thoughts and realized that the bottom line here, is that I want this. And on some deeper level, like all my mods that are here to stay, I need it. Nevermind the difficulty I will have explaining it to people; this is art that is necessary for my soul.

In thinking about my design, I realized that for all my mods, none of them really paid much tribute to my love of machines. So I drew out a small circuitry pattern on the inside of my left leg, about an inch and a half above my ankle bone, approximately four inches high and an inch wide.

I looked in the mirror and it made sense. So I put on Frontline Assembly and began to cut. I knew that whatever I did, I would not make a mistake. It would turn out exactly how I wanted because I believed in myself. The lines were very fine but still visible, although now as I look at it, it's hard to see how they will heal up because even with ink in them, they still have a slight reddish hue due to the fact that after all, it is a healing cut!

It didn't take me that long to do the cutting, either. After a surprisingly short time, I was pretty much done, except for the tiny dots at the ends of each circuit. How to do this with a cutting? If it were a brand, it would be a piece of cake-i could find any number of very small circular things with which to make the mark. However, I wanted all the marks to look the same and I also knew that rubbing ink into a burn was probably not the way to go.

I ended up taking the end of an exacto knife, the metal cap that goes over it, and taking its smallest end and pressing it into my skin as much as it would go without being ridiculously uncomfortable. Then I used that as a "stencil" of sorts to cut around with a small needle.

This gave me some very small marks that looked enough like circuits to satisfy me. I inspected my handiwork; the endorphins had worn off and at that point I couldn't really do any more cutting or inking because my leg was starting to ache pretty badly. I cleaned it up and pronounced it "Done For Now." I slept with gauze over it and am now letting it get fresh air.

Probably tomorrow when I can build up adrenaline again and when some of the irritation has subsided, I'll thicken up some of the lines and go back over the circles. I really like the way it looks though- like it has been there since I was first born.

The emotions I felt while cutting were, for some reason, a little bit different than usual. I felt less like I was doing this out of a particular emotion, than just simply for the sake of exploration. I kind of like that idea. I really enjoy doing ink rubbings and I think it'd be great to eventually do some larger-scale work on others (in a professional setting of course, if that were possible...).

I also felt like I was finally unveiling some side of me that I hadn't acknowledged much before except in my music, an industrial/noise solo act called Machines With Human Skin (appropriate, huh?). A side of me that believes in the efficiency of machines to do what humans cannot; but also, the capability of humans to then manipulate those machines, creating extraordinary art.

In another sense, I felt I was scraping away my outer shell (skin) to see my inner circuitry (emotions). It was so satisfying that I plan to extend the circuitry motif onto the inside of my left arm. I think it would be great to get a tattoo around each of the circuitry pieces and really make them pop.

Anyway, that's my story. In terms of method, I used what I always use: a razor blade (the kind for utility knives, right outta the package after sterilizing in diluted bleach and rinsing with rubbing alochol), iodine to wipe the area, surgical gauze to wipe the blood, and black india ink for the inking. Feel free to email me with any questions.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 14 June 2003
in Scarification

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