Sunday, March 4, I had an extraordinary experience at Sacred in New York City. People with amazing tattoos came, thanks to the coaxing of ink artists, for me to photograph with my camera array. Then there was an epiphany. I realized that all of my work to perfect a high resolution camera array that could capture over two dozen perspectives — and a way to process those perspectives — writing the software and working with manufacturers to develop a precise lens material to laminate to the print — all of the exhausting, frustrating work… it was worth it!
You probably don’t think that looking at an amazing tattoo in real life is that big of an experience. But you would have changed your mind if you were there with me on Sunday. The internet, TV, magazines and other two dimensional media simply don’t represent the reality of ink art. Indeed, overdone photoshopping of images give them a fake look that has little in common with reality. I’m sure the publicity is appreciated by the ink artists, but a magazine’s synthetic over sharpened color boosted images are a misrepresentation of the artist’s work. Not to mention, they are printed on flat pieces of paper. A tattoo is anything but flat. The space that it occupies defines it in a way that is unique and personal. The canvas of human skin is special in a myriad of ways.
As with all mythology, there are some elements of truth to the stories associated with tattoos providing special powers to those that have them. When you look at a life size AMPED 3D photograph and experience the subtleties, texture and space occupied by the ink and skin canvas, you discover something special and unexpected. It’s impossible to explain, but you know it when you experience it. Personally, you’ll find it difficult to look away because there is so much to look at. With each subtle shift of your eyes and head you see something slightly different. With each look, a story unfolds in hundreds of ways.
So, you might get the impression that I am passionate about AMPED 3D photographs of tattoos. That impression would be spot on. I’ve put aside every other project and am focusing my efforts exclusively to locating the best of the best tattoos from around the world to personally master to AMPED 3D photographs for exhibition. With each image there is a special quality about the art that speaks to what we are as human beings. Our skin is what we present to the world to tell our story. When we alter our skin, there is a significance to that which goes beyond language and other forms of communication. Who we are changes with the application of a tattoo. How that change manifests is fascinating and insightful. It is humanity coexisting within art. Some people are dismissive of ritual and mythology. They scoff at the idea of a tattoo holding any special significance. But when time is taken to observe and experience tattoos in person – or available to experience as an AMPED 3D exhibition – something gets revealed in a way that our ancestors understood, that we might also understand if we take the time to observe.
Perhaps you will roll your eyes and think I’ve gone off my nut, but I can honestly say that there is something to be revealed about humanity when looking at tattoos – something new, insightful and important. That is what the AMPED 3D Exhibition is all about. The best of the best tattoos, revealed as they appear in real life but possible to examine as art, collectively at a single location where time stands still and thoughtful contemplation can occur.
But to enjoy an AMPED 3D exhibition, you don’t have to be as emotionally invested as I am. You might simply want to go to see the current state of the art or to get an idea for your own tattoo. Maybe you’re interested in a point of reference as to how various artists compare or to compare your own ink to that touted as “the best of the best”. Speaking of that, what do I mean by “the best of the best”? That is an evolving target that links to building relationships with conventions and competitions. Each AMPED 3D photograph is carefully documented with the reasons why it is being included in the exhibition. As the exhibitions grow, it will be more difficult to decide which pieces don’t make the cut.
The first AMPED 3D exhibition is being coordinated and is planned to be held on or around May 18th – May 20th in New York City. For information as it unfolds, check out the website: http://amped3d.com