On my regular culture-mining and inspiration-seeking expeditions browsing thrift and retail, I have encountered many times a book that piques my curiosity called, “The Encyclopedia of Russian Criminal Tattoos.”
What it has made me contemplate is; tattoo as the recorded history of a life lived. I’m not concerned with the cryptic, emblematic or profane content of the book.
Our experiences are tattooed in our minds, on our souls, in our behaviors. The semiotic representation of life’s milestones in ink on flesh is a conscious attempt to anchor, if not honor, these intangible realities in a physical way.
Even if memories fade, tattoos remind. Ink is scarred to skin at a moment in time and the tattoo forever echoes the moment of scarification and the significance of the experience the scar is intended to re-present. The art/scar lives as long as the wearer but ultimately fades like a memory with life.
Tattoo, as a piece of contemporary human culture, anchors us to the here and now of our collective survival-mind or the dual enlightened animal-ness of humanity and all that comes with it.