We want to hear from YOU

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Here at TBMB we aim to educate, entertain and inform you on every aspect of the Body Modification industry. Our main aim is to keep you, our readers happy and so we are opening up this request to you…

What would you like to hear more about on thebodymodificationblog?

More book/ film reviews?

More modification procedures explained? 

More interviews and articles?

Anything you want to hear about we will do our best to bring the information you to! Leave a comment and we’ll get to work.

TBMB

Modification or Mutilation? A Brief Article.

Our ability to not only tolerate the pain of body modification but also embrace it is a fascinating process. But what can take you from a small pair of hooped earrings or a discreet neck tattoo to becoming completely covered in ink and quite literally hooked?

The majority of people get tattoos and piercings because they feel they are aesthetically pleasing, considering them no different to a piece of jewellery, that they are mere accessories to the body.

Triple Flat Piercing by Garth Savage - Wild Cherry Studio, Tonbridge, Kent, UK

Triple Flat Piercing by Garth Savage – Wild Cherry Studio, Tonbridge, Kent, UK

Piercings and tattoos are becoming so popular nowadays that they are considered far less ‘alternative’ than in previous years and have almost become accepted as the ‘norm’ in youth culture today. However the more extreme forms of body modification such as implants (the process of imbedding specially designed jewellery under the skin to create a raised shape in the desired area of the body), scarification (the act of cutting or removing the skin in a decorative manner to create a permanent scar) and body suspension are also growing in popularity. Having said this, is this trend of becoming a human pincushion going too far and encouraging people to engage in overly dangerous forms of body alterations?

Body suspension is the act of piercing sharp hooks through different parts of a person’s skin and then suspending them in the air. The hooks are most often pierced through the back near the shoulders and/or through the back of the leg but knee and chest suspensions are also possible.

Garth Savage a tattoo artist from Kent recently took part in his third body suspension after being fascinated by it for years. After working in the industry and through getting extensively heavier work done himself (such as large tattoos, multiple piercings and arm implants) he considered body suspension his next natural step in body modification “a big part of it has been how far I can push myself, both in separating my mind from the discomfort of it all and just focusing on the positive aspects and enjoying the experience. Being able to control that flight or fight response in my mind.”

Suspension 2.6 Point Knee. Photo courtesy of Garth Savage.

Suspension 2.6 Point Knee. Photo courtesy of Garth Savage.

Since his first suspension (on his back) Garth has also progressed onto; arm and knee suspensions, claiming: “The moment my toes left the floor, everything just melted away and a feeling of accomplishment came. Neither experience was more or less painful than the one before, but they were all completely different and equally amazing.”

Having said this, experimenting with body modification at this level is not always so straightforward. A recent study found on emaxhealth.com explores how the more modern, extreme forms of body modification (especially when not preformed by a professional) can be extremely dangerous, for example Tongue bifurcation, or splitting the tongue into a “fork”, is performed by cutting the tongue along the middle from the tip back to about midway along the tongue. Healing takes approximately 2 weeks to one month, and during this time, a person may be unable to eat a normal diet or speak clearly.” Research such as this shows that such extreme procedures can be highly damaging to the body and not always fixable. In some countries certain alterations are deemed so dangerous they have been made illegal, such as eye tattooing in Oklahoma, America.

Tongue Bifurcation/ Splitting. Image taken from russfoxx.com.

Tongue Bifurcation/ Splitting. Image taken from russfoxx.com.

Gavin Dunbar, a professional tattoo artist and piercer from Kent explains his view on extreme body alterations: “There is no real difference in my eyes, between painting your nails a funky colour, getting your ears pierced, covering your body in tattoos or even removing a finger. Its all modification of some sort, just on different ends of the scale, and so long as its safe, sane and consensual, then I don’t think there is any problem with It.”

Although, even Gavin (a professional within the industry) has had one or two accidents with body modifications: “I’ve never felt pain like it” is the only way he could explain one of his experiences with body modification. Adorned in over twenty tattoos and multiple piercings Gavin is no stranger to body mods, but it was when a bodge scarification procedure landed him in hospital that he had to take a serious look at whether he had cut a little too deep into the world of body modification.

An example of facial Scarification. Image found on google images, also found on bme.com

An example of facial Scarification. Image found on google images, also found on bme.com

Passing a studio advertising scarification in Brighton, Gavin decided to have a diamond cut into his calf. After just one line the supposed ‘professional’ said “it was looking good” but luckily, being in the industry himself Gavin knew enough about the procedure to be aware that something was wrong before the situation got any worse. After asking the man several times to stop the procedure Gavin finally managed to get out of the shop and down to the hospital to receive medical attention.

However by this point some serious damage had already been inflicted upon Gavin’s leg and he was told “not only had he cut through the outer tissue but also straight through the muscle, and down so deep the bone was visible.” Gavin was given both internal and external stitches and has luckily now made a full recovery with minimal scarring.

Although the line between modification and mutilation seems to be a fine one more often than not it boils down to a matter of personal consent/ opinion. When asked what he thought on the matter Garth stated: “I believe a modification without consent is assault and mutilation, for example piercing babies’ ears! There are some things in the ‘deeper, darker’ side of the industry that I can’t get my head around, like a Meatotomy (penis splitting), but I feel that if that is the path someone wants to take, then it’s their decision, it’s not for someone to judge. In short, the main difference is how open people’s minds are. One man’s art is another man’s trash”.

Written by Cassandra Hunwick

We would love to hear all of your opinions on this hot topic here at TBMB. Can body modification be taken too far and turned into mutilation? Or is it always in the eye of the beholder?

And you can find both the extremely talented Gavin Dunbar and Garth Savage in Wild Cherry Studio, Tonbridge, Kent, UK.

Worth a read- ‘Things & Ink’ Magazine

Tattoo and body modification magazines are not a new craze by any means, however nearly all of them are full to the brim with half naked women posing ‘seductively’ and all desperately lacking in useful/ interesting information. Until now…

The Art Issue. Image taken from Things&Ink.com

The Art Issue. Image taken from Things&Ink.com

Luckily for us, just over a year ago Things & Ink was born and since then the world of body modification publications has changed forever and definitely for the better! Bursting with real life stories and experiences, interviews with industry experts, photo shoots featuring models of all shapes and sizes and articles on anything and everything to do with the body modification world, this magazine really does have it all!

Pages from The Art Issue. Image taken from Things&Ink.com

Pages from The Art Issue. Image taken from Things&Ink.com

Things & Ink is a gold mine of refreshingly new information as well as being brave enough to tackle common misconceptions of the tattoo industry. Although predominately aimed at female readers the vast array of content makes Things & Ink the ideal read for anyone interested in tattoo culture. Trust us, reading this is a must!

The Brain child of the extremely talented (editor) Alice Snape, Things& Ink is released quarterly (four times a year) at the very reasonable price of just £10. It is currently available from selected London stores and online. To purchase your copy of Things &Ink issues follow the link below:

http://www.thingsandink.com

Worth a watch – ‘Modify’

There are hundreds of body modification documentaries out there, many of them full of incredible ideas and information and ‘Modify’, created in 2005 by directors Jason Gary and Greg Jacobson is definitely one of the best ones. Covering a vast array of body modification topics, from standard piercings and tattoo techniques to advances in body suspension, scarification and inivative implants, ‘Modify’ both shocks and informs.

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DVD Film Cover. Image from IMDB

Interviewees (all of which are industry experts) explore the ideas behind body modification. They look at the industries origins, where the industry is heading in the future due to technological advancements and they also give their views on the much debated topic; modification vs mutilation. For anyone interested in body modification, at any level, this documentary is fascinating, but it does come with a warning – due to highly graphic scenes, it is not for the faint hearted.

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Modified Expert featured in ‘Modify’. Image from google images.

‘Modify’ is available to buy online and if you google hard enough you may just be able to watching it online for free.

Breaking the tattoo industry. A brief interview with Kirsty Wood

Tattooing, as a profession is more popular now than ever before. With a growing demand for professional artists in an extremely tough industry we spoke to Kirsty Wood, a tattoo artist fresh on the scene to find out the pros and cons of working within the field.

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Kirsty Wood, professional tattoo artist. Photography by Jason Perkins.

For most tattoo artists, tattooing is about having the flexibility to do what you love everyday, whilst working amongst like minded people that you can feed off artistically. Its the perfect form of self expression for both artist and client.

“Being an artist you always want your work to impact upon someone in one way or another, tattooing allows you to do that predominately for people”.

There are also several challenges artists need to overcome to become truly successful in the industry. These include protecting their work from ‘copy-cat’ artists and over-coming “arrogant artists prepared to badmouth others, regardless of their ability level or style, in order to gain work for themselves”.

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Kirsty Wood, professional tattoo artist. Photography by Jason Perkins.

Another issue is that basic materials are so easy to come by, enabling amateur artists to tattoo people from home. This brings obvious dangers to the client such as serious health and safety risks and poor quality artwork. These people are known within the industry as ‘scratchers’ and should always be avoided.

Kirsty Wood is a perfect example of a self made artist who has worked her way up through practicing in local licensed studios.  You can find Kirsty Wood at ‘Rebellion’ in Bournemouth, UK.

The Art Of Bamboo Tattooing

Bamboo tattooing can be traced back 3000 years, originating in the far East. When it first began in Thailand, bamboo tattooing was used in Buddhist temples by monks for religious purposes, to help bring them strength and protection. As the art form spread into a far more mainstream environment it increased in popularity. However in some countries  -many close to its origin-  tattoos were surrounded with negative criminal stereotypes.

Authentic bamboo tattoo

Authentic bamboo tattoo- Scott Pocock

In recent years, as tattooing has become increasingly popular (particularly in Western culture) some worry the ancient art form will be lost in favour of machine tools. These are commonly used, as they are much easier to learn and work with.

Bamboo tattooing holds many benefits over its rival technique, including its puncturing effect on the skin. Rather than the small tear that can occur with machine work this ensures the healing process only lasts around 4 to 5 days with little or no scabbing and also means there is a far smaller risk of bleeding. This ensures the colour settles deeper under the skin keeping the tattoo bolder longer.

Although its thought of as a dying art form, there is a glimmer of hope for bamboo tattooing. Through high profile celebrities such as Angelina Jolie the technique is being kept in the public eye and gaining a new generation of enthusiasts. Places to be tattooed in this traditional manner are few and far between but well worth seeking out for a truly unique piece of art. If you live in the UK and are interested in getting a one of a kind piece visit www.bambootattoo.co.uk to find out more.

Body Suspension. A Brief Explanation

Body suspension is the act of piercing the skin with sharp hooks and hanging from them. This is a ritual that has been carried out for thousands of years across many cultures in places such as North America, India and the Middle East. It started as a sacred ritual, as a way for individuals to reach spirits, Gods and a higher state of mind. Much the same as people walking across hot coals the process makes the seemingly impossible, possible.

Fakir Musafar a Western male, dedicated his life to primitive rituals and body modification including piercing, tattooing, scarification and body suspension. In 1985 Fakir released a film named ‘Dances Sacred and Profane’ within which himself and his working partner, Jim Ward perform a traditional Native American flesh-hanging.

The ritual is performed by piercing their chests with sharp hooks that are attached to rope, then tied to a tree. The ropes were adorned with bells and feathers. The two men then lean and pull on the ropes for several hours whilst chanting, until the skin rips and they are freed.

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Garth Savage (professional body piercer) during his first body suspension.

Nowadays, in many parts of Western culture the once sacred ritual has been turned into a ‘sideshow’ act, used to shock and entertain. Many believe this detracts from the important ritualistic past of body suspension and that it portrays the process as a ‘freak show’ rather than the rite of passage it once was. However, many Westerners trying body suspension do it for personal reasons, such as pushing their body to its limits, and can gain great fulfilment from it.

For anyone interested in body suspension or wanting to try it for themselves I suggest visiting www.suspension.org for professional advice and services.