Live Tattoo Performance Class @ VisArts UCSD

Brett Stalbaum, a VisArts Professor, will be tattooed live during a Art & Technology class by Breno Bitarello Sad, a Visiting Scholar from Brazil and a Ph.D. candidate at Mackenzie University, where he is being advised by former VisArts Lecturer Jane de Almeida. Breno’s work deals with the biotech tattoos that are under development by tattoo scientists artists and discuss the bio tattoos aesthetics from an art & tech perspective.

Performance statement:

A Petty Officer 2nd Class was attending some college courses while stationed in San Diego. He had served in two extended periods of duty at sea with the Pacific Fleet. One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed AI hobbyist and a member of the ACLU. One day he shocked the class when he came in, looked to the ceiling, and flatly stated, “God, if Artificial Intelligence is going to destroy all humankind, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 minutes.” The lecture room fell silent, except for one student’s mobile device from which Siri could be heard intoning “Humans have religion. I just have silicone.” Otherwise, you could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, “Here I am God. I’m still waiting.” It got down to the last couple of minutes when the Petty Officer got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold when suddenly a renowned Tattoo artist from Brazil began to carve a symbol of the living AI onto the back of his hand. The Petty Officer went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in a silence now only interrupted by the tattoo artist’s machine. The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken and in pain from the fresh tattoo, he looked at the Petty Officer and asked, “”What the hell would you need a car door for? I thought is was supposed to be driverless?” The Petty Officer 2nd Class joyfully replied, “God was too busy today protecting America’s sailors who are protecting your right to say stupid shit. All Your Base Are Belong to AI.” or, alternatively: Usually tattooing is about starting with a specific image of desire intended for some part of the body. Its relations with the art world are not always clear, but relations do exist. In this performance, instead of choosing a specific image or design we are dealing with unpredictable visual structures that are translated into tattooing language in a way to fit the body. This gesture is not about the end result on skin, but rather rethinking the whole process through which tattoos might become variable (as in screens) or evolved with the help of “natural” and “artificial” intelligences. (To the degree we can stomach the anthropocentric distinction natural and artificial… of course.) With all of our lives intersected by changing and possibly one day sentient systems, the result is unpredictable patterns; patterns that can tattooed in human skin as procedural, generative, and possibly someday, even living images.