Thursday, November 19, 2015

The History of Social Uprisings

8. The η-revolts

The food riots at the end of the 21st century were catalyzed by a surprising source, the tattoo would play a critical role. At the start of the century tattoos were not as we know them now. They were very traditional, still relying on an “ink”. It consisted of fine particles (a pigment, often of heavy metal salts) mixed in a carrier medium. The change to this ancient art form occurred with the development of eInk[1]. This ink was used in the 21st century for displays on tablets and phones. The ink was formed from small capsules which could be polarized using a small voltage, such as a battery, which allowed them to be switched between black and white. These formed the screen pixels.

Figure 1. e-Ink functionality courtesy E Ink Corporation

Widespread use of the ink drove down the price. And they were developed and modified (digi-inks) to allow them to be ink jet printed on many surfaces. They were used to create bar codes, price labels and advertising information that could be changed as required. Higher end value uses included decorative prints for the home, where the scene could be changed as the owner desired using the appropriate apps.

Figure 2. digi-ink and the eTattoo or η2  (mid 21st century?)

In Japan the first use of a digi-ink[2] for a tattoo was undertaken. It was a complex procedure involving several stages of tattooing; laying down an initial pattern, then the digi-ink and then a transparent layer. The precision required could only be achieved using robotic needles. When not in use the tattoo would be almost invisible on the wearers skin but when a small potential from an ordinary battery was applied to the tattoo, it would appear as if by magic. It would stay in place for several hours before slowly fading. Colours were included and even fluorescent versions were made for the clubbing scene. Numerous designs appeared and these became the fashion statement for a while. Barely a catwalk model could be seen without them. As the process simplified and as the tattoos could be switched on and off at will, they became commonplace and so the price dropped. Sometime during this period the electrically driven tattoo became known as an etattoo (or an eta2 or η, the greek symbol with the same pronunciation).

Tattoos were only one form of body augmentation. Whilst the earliest microchip implant occurred as long ago as the late 1990‘s[3], it wasn't until the mid part of the 21st century that it became both fashionable and essential. These chips carried your medical data, personal id, and financial information in something nick-named the “me-chip” implanted in your hand. Eventually these were powered by bio-kinetic trickle charged implanted flexible batteries[4]. These enabled the user to perform financial transactions, make calls, connect to the net and so on. This power source allowed the tattoo to be switched on and off without the use of any external battery. Soon the technology was harnessed to animate the tattoo and elaborate patterns were created from information stored in the me-chips. Tattoos had a renaissance in popularity.

The Grand Algorithmic Failures[5]
What happened in the third quarter of the 21st century couldn’t be predicted, literally. It marked the first of a number of catastrophic failures of the unmonitored algorithmic tools then being used for governance, finance and control in the United States. A cyber terrorist attack fooled the predictive tools operating the stock markets into a series of massive sales of stock which could not be halted. The markets which were fragile anyway due to resource shortages, collapsed and triggered the Third Economic Depression. In the US the government took control of the banks, some private equities and private pensions and the distribution and control of food. And in doing so they acquired access to the me-chips which were formerly under the control of the private sector and subject to independent regulation. The data the chips held was used by the government to assess aid and health care needs. It was initially successful and concerns over personal freedom were disregarded. Unsurprisingly an illegal market grew up in manipulating chip data to the advantage of the wearer. This lead to government institutions funding extended healthcare packages and aid to what they foresaw as less deserving individuals. In an effort to prevent this fraud and on the advice of a social assessment algorithm the id number of a wearer was permanently turned on as an η, this was done in a manner that was difficult to defraud. Users needing benefits along with other suspect individuals were effectively permanently marked with an id number reminiscent of past historical uses. 

The η-riots
Those wearing the tattooed id became known as eaters (η‘s), a reference to both the tattoo and of their perceived sponging off the state for food ecoupons. Some elements of society saw those wearing the numbers as akin to being marked as evil, as if marked with the number of the beast leading to a general suspicion toward the wearer and at times prejudice. The social assessment algorithm that had been used to guide the decision had incorrectly determined the cultural memory of society toward a tattooed id. No human in office thought to question the decision. ‘Eaters’ began to wear their number as a badge of pride, a method of recognition and rallying point. This lead eventually to civil disobedience and the η-riots, as they became known, which occurred in most US cities. Consequent government upheaval lead to the the True States being formed. An historic decision followed to remove all id tattoos, an action carried out by the recently formed New Peoples Council. Algorithmic analysis suggested those associated with the council should have an etattoo indicating their contribution to society. Members and fellows of this organisation now wear their new tattooed symbols with pride.

[2] Reference to the ink in Japan {Classified}
[5] & “The Governing Society; the tools of the Smith Algorithm and its failure patterns” {Classified}

This document has been generated by predictive algorithm Dystopia 3, 05-16-2096.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tattoo's for Denver or anywhere else.

So what does a tattoo say about culture. Its run from acceptance to resistance and back to acceptance in recent western cultures. There was a fine exhibition at Musee du Quai Branly in 2015. What you would learn from this is the variety and rationale for tattoos in different cultures. But does it reflect where you live. The most obvious issue is age and consent and even within the US the rules vary. Does it say something about your state? And what are your freedoms.

I was struck by all of this. Here in the UK we have celtic cultural influences and the imagery associated with that. And I was also struck by the health issues and cleanliness of the modern world compared to the old one. All this coalesced in a piece for an exhibition in Denver organised by Juli Morsella. Consisting of original virtual art work, photographic work and painted and printed works this is what emerged.


Tattoo 18 model nude
A monochrome of tattoo and model. The original art work is available.