NY-based artist Anthony Antonellis came up with a new way for distributing artwork: digital tattoos embedded under the skin.
Anthony Antonellis had an RFID chip implanted between his thumb and index finger. Such chips are typically used for protecting sensitive data from prying eyes (think biometric passports, access cards), but this artist plans to use them for a totally different purpose: sharing art. The one he had implanted under the skin displays a GIF when seen with a smartphone. Don’t think of lolcats, as such GIFs wouldn’t fit on a 1KB RFID chip.
The implant operation had no incidents, and there wouldn’t have been any pain if Anthony didn’t look at the stiches: “Only the stitches hurt, because I looked at them,” he stated in an interview for Animal New York. “I Eternal Sunshine‘d that entire hour of my life,” he continues, as being conscious during the surgical intervention might have been a bit traumatizing.
As mentioned before, the chip has a storage capacity of only 1KB, so the artist chose to use this capacity to the fullest by including 10 frames in six colors. The GIF is some sort of artistic signature and represents the world’s first net art implant. Anthony gives us a bit of perspective: “Thinks of it as a changeable, digital net art tattoo vs. fixed information.” I’m glad he uses an Android phone with a custom app for looking at the digital tattoo, but he doesn’t exclude the possibility of having an iPhone app made, as well.
Furthermore, the artist claims that he will replace the exhibition place for his works of art: “I’ll be curating favicons on my hand instead of the website.” I don’t know how many digital tattoos he’s willing to get, but only the thought of this makes me cringe a bit. A walking, talking gallery of art is certainly something new, but there should be a limit to this. For the moment, he reassures us that everything is OK: “I don’t feel anything. I feel like someone is holding a paper-clip to my hand. It’s just a little cut…”
Assuming that people would start using higher capacity RFID chips for storing data, a new type of tattoo studios could spring up. In fact, some of us might be particularly eager to implant art under our skin as it’s a much better alternative to having chips implanted by our governments.