Insert Arm, Get Religion

What does this automatic tattooing machine have to do with religion? Designer Chris Eckert tells us as he explains the inspiration behind his newest work of art. It’s hard to deny that one’s religion is heavily based on geography.

If you’re born in many areas of the Middle East, odds are you’ll be a Muslim. If you’re born in Mexico, it’s quite likely you’ll be raised Catholic. With many religions, it’s easy to go the opposite direction and make assumptions about where one might be from just from knowing nothing but which faith they practice.

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Eckert ponders whether religion is therefore randomly assigned or if, perhaps, you are born into a geographic region because your God wishes you to be part of said religion. Persecuted religions in certain areas of the world could be assigned by God because it’s one’s duty and test of faith to persevere hardships.

Regardless of whether you believe in a religion or not, though, the link between geography and religion does exist. This art installation takes that randomness further and serves to make it stand out more dramatically. After you insert your arm into the machine and press the start switch, a tattoo needle bears down on your skin, tattooing a religious symbol (and thus symbolizing your being assigned a religion) at random.

The person in control of the machine has no control over which religion they are assigned and are thus permanently branded into a specific faith. As many who are raised strictly within a religion can attest to, it’s certainly not permanent but it can be difficult to let your loved ones know that you don’t believe. Likewise, ridding yourself of your tattooed, random religion would require more than just soap and water.

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This is an interesting subject to think about and Chris Eckert’s machine is definitely the sort of thing that will spark conversation. To the best of my knowledge, the machine itself uses a pen rather than an actual tattoo gun, but this is more about the idea behind if machines like this were truly a part of life and our personal identities. For much less serious takes on tattoos, check out this Tetris Tattoo or this Batman Collage Tattoo.