THIS BLOG HAS MOVED

Hello, everyone. This blog has moved to JOHNVOELZ.COM!


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Skin

I heard the most intriguing story this week.

Shelley Jackson, a writer who resides in Brooklyn, NY has ventured into one of the most controversial and captivating artistic works I have ever heard of. Shelley is a writer of short stories that you can purchase and download online but, her latest story may be the pinnacle of her work.

Shelley has given an invitation for individuals to participate in her work entitled, “Skin” which is a living short story. It is living because it will never be written on paper. It will never be published. It won’t be recapped or revealed to the greater public. It will never be recorded. The short story will be tattooed on the skin of each participant.

Each individual whose application is accepted at shelley@drizzle.com must agree to have one word tattooed on his or her body. The word they have tattooed is the author’s choice. Jackson has stated that, in the event there are not enough participants in her 2095 word short story, she will label the incomplete work as “definitive.”

I don’t think this will be a problem for Jackson, however. To date, there are 1780 confirmed participants (confirmed by a photo of their assigned word that has been inked on their flesh—all words must be engraved in classic book font). Jackson has received over 13,000 emails in response to the project. There are 5000 new applications sitting in her inbox.

Applicants must write a description of their interest in the work. Upon acceptance, applicants sign waivers that release Jackson from any responsibility for tats gone wrong. Then applicants receive their word (or word plus punctuation mark). Participants may choose the size of their tat and the placement (no unmentionable areas are allowed). They may not choose their word. If they want to reject the word they are given they may but, they will not receive another word. Jackson promises on her website she won’t get angry for the rejection of a word.

After a participant in the project gets inked, they send Jackson a photo of the word on their skin and she sends them a signed document verifying they are indeed a “word” in the project.

Once participants are authenticated, they are then known as “words.” They are not known by their birth name or assumed name or nickname or married name or any alias they may have. They are now words. They are an important part of the story. If a word is to die, the story changes. Therefore, each individual word is paramount to the completion of the story. If there is an accident (such as losing a limb or scarring of the tattoo, the word will not be erased from the story. Only the death of a word will alter the story. When all words are dead, so is the story. Jackson has also made a commitment to make every possible effort to attend the funeral of her words—each and every one.

Wow. This makes my mind spin. Does anybody else hear the drone of the metaphor as loudly as I?

It makes me think about the power of words. Words mean something. If I were writing a story (or a letter, or a memo, or a prayer,) would it turn out different if I were going to ask people to engrave the words—each and every one of them—on their skin?

How would we alter our existence—our time—our mission—our demeanor if we imagined ourselves as words on a page. More than players on a stage. Words in a script. Each one counting. Each word precious to God.

If words were assigned to us by God based on our character, what would my word be? How about yours?

If people were to assign you or me a word, what would they choose?

What would we want it to be?

If assigned words dictate the part we will play in God’s story, would I crave so badly to be a part of it that I would accept my word—regardless of what it may be? Would I wear it proudly? Would I be content?

Would I want to change the font?

Would I choose to ink the word in a place that is readily seen or would I choose a discrete area known only to myself?

Shelley Jackson’s “words” are not merely words. Even if the participants’ identity (as far as the work is concerned) is altered so as to no longer be referred to by name they don’t cease to be people. But, does it matter?

Are they demeaned or somehow de-valued because of their new identity? Or, is it possible that the work is so important, the community is so important, the call is so important, the experience is so important that anyone would be willing to follow no matter how seemingly insignificant outsiders may feel they are.

Could it be the work offers a greater identity than they could have hoped for?

You can read more about the work at www.ineradicablestain.com

Send me your comments and musings.

5 comments:

Rich Kirkpatrick said...

Wow. What an interesting post, John! This reminds me of Paul saying in 2 Corinthians 3:3, "You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."

collectable trail of ponies said...

Hey John Voelz GREAT title Skin. Thats what actually caught my eye. I was surfing blogs to try and help my customers and visitors with information on my website about ##Keyword## and paused to read but ran out of time. I will book mark it and come back to read later. This isn't really what I was looking for what I really need is information about http://www.horse-lover-gift-ideas-central.com related subjects but thank you and I shall return. I wish you well.

horse picture frame said...

Hey John Voelz GREAT title Skin. Thats what actually caught my eye. I was surfing blogs to try and help my customers and visitors with information on my website about ##Keyword## and paused to read but ran out of time. I will book mark it and come back to read later. This isn't really what I was looking for what I really need is information about http://www.horse-lover-gift-ideas-central.com related subjects but thank you and I shall return. I wish you well.

home equity loans said...

home equity loans

videogame history said...

Hey Fellow, you have a top-notch blog here!
If you have a moment, please have a look at my videogame history site.
Good luck!