1991: glow-in-the-dark dustmite

In keeping with my interests in science & with expanded perception & techniques of representation, I got excited about this collection of photographs that shows "sights beyond the limits of the naked eye": microscope & high-speed photography, etc:

Dustmites, in particular seemed like a good choice for a new tattoo because they feed off of dead human skin & getting a tattoo is bound to generate some food for them. I wasn't satisfied with just getting an interesting image though. I wanted one that glowed in the dark.

My friend Daniel Higgs had probably told me that he had a small glow-in-the-dark tattoo - in his case a small spiral on his forehead like a 3rd eye. At that point, glow-in-the-dark tattoos were extremely rare. I still haven't met anyone with one other than Daniel. I told Daniel what I wanted to do & he had to go across country from BalTimOre to California to get the pigment from Ed Hardy, if I remember correctly, who had a secret formula.

Of course, there was the concern that whatever would glow in the dark on my body would be toxic. When people would ask me about that I explained that it was conceptually pleasing to me that an image of something on my body should generate food for the thing that the image is of. Furthermore, I joked that if I got cancer from the tattoo maybe I could make it to the front cover of "Cancer Magazine" (if there is such a thing). Now, 25 years later, I haven't noticed any ill effects yet.

The ink was clear so in order to do the tattoo properly Daniel 1st tattooed a "blood gutter" on my leg by just 'tattoing' me with water. That made sure that there was an open area in my skin where the pigment could be inserted. THEN he tattooed the area a 2nd time with the glow-in-the-dark ink. I don't exactly recommend this technique because it was quite painful. Given that there are nerve connections in my leg, where the tattoo was placed, that went straight to my cock & balls, it was a 'bit much' at times but I survived.

One of the interesting things about the tattoo is that it's basically invisible under ordinary lighting except as a fine scar. It's only after it's been exposed to light for a while & the light is then turned off that it becomes temporarily visible. This 'invisibility' makes a strong conceptual tie to the book that the image came from. I find it easiest to expose with a black light. I often forget it's there & sit reading naked under a light for a while in bed & then turn the light off only to be mildly surprised as it pops into view.





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