TECHOFLESH! Ghost Crawl : Celebrity Lookalike Surgery

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Technoflesh is a monthly column by Simone C. Niquille for Sang Bleu, writing about technology and/with/on the body, investigating how body modification, as a form of self expression performed on the body, influences modes of 21st century surveillance and biometric identification.



GhostCrawl: Celebrity Lookalike Surgery


During the second World War the United States Army deployed a unit of artists (among them Ellsworth Kelly and Bill Blass) to perfect the craft of camouflage and deception. Like a travelling road show they set out to deceive the enemy by imitating other U.S. Army units. Pretending to be where they were not, adding visual and literal noise to keep the actual tactics and whereabouts hidden. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, also known as The Ghost Army, were equipped with inflatable tanks, sound trucks and fake radio transmissions. Many of the artists found their way to the Army via camouflage classes at NYU & Cooper Union, later joining the Army’s 603rd Camouflage Engineers unit which was responsible for visual deception within The Ghost Army. They were so successful as to make whole battlefields disappear and fake ones appear. A diagram illustrating a mission on the Allied front in the Ardennes displays The Ghost Army’s three warfare tactics: Truth, Distortion and Pure Fiction.


Is the job of the modern camoufleur the plastic surgeon? Biometrics, the translation of bodies to data for later identification and verification, has gained wide reaching implementation and development support after the events of 2001. The War on Terror was announced to a faceless enemy by the U.S., foreshadowing obsessive identification and suspicion in the unidentified. From dating website offering to find partners that look like your exes, to the FBI generating the largest face database to date, facial recognition has [...]

An interview with tattooer Matty D’Arienzo

Matty D’Arienzo has a strikingly bold style. While tattooing mostly in strong solid black, he manages to express strong graphic qualities in beautifully simplistic ways. We cannot blame him for his bold, loud style as he is a part of the infamous INTO YOU family of tattooing in London. Carrying on the torch on his terms, I got a chance to ask him a few questions.

Interview by Miguel Chavez

When was the first time you saw or consciously understood what a tattoo was? How old were you and what kind of impact did this initial interaction have on you?

The first tattoo I saw was the one on my dad – he has a stick man saint with a pitch fork through the halo, hand poked by one of his mates. He was told it would last a few months, but 40 years later it’s still there and he wears it well. My sister and I plan to get the same tattoo one day.

Tell us about the first tattoo you received, was it done professionally?

Like for many people, my first tattoo was symbolic and had meaning.

At the time I was heavily into playing music so I ended up getting a treble and bass clef on the back of my ankles.  I love doing people’s first tattoo and there’s something special about it: it takes me back to the time of getting my first one done. Being nervous and excited at the same time, and putting your full trust in someone to mark your body for life.


Do you have any education in formal art schools? When did you start making art and when did you realize that power of art, whether it be drawing painting or tattooing?

I used to draw a [...]

Paris, there is a hell you love.

Apparently, we did not need the moon to dance in darkness. Skin absorbed sunlight and held it, so this ribbon of climax could exert its faint glow—just enough to make visible the shades of black, the iris of eyes. The ceilings dissolved, the stars forgot their duties as constellations and fell, dusting our shoulders with the swirl of rococo galaxies. Chandeliers dripping with glass lustres, extravagant mouldings, soft carpets. Georges Bizet lived and worked in this house. With fingers, we swept the curves of our cheeks, blessed tongues with drops of tequila, salt and silver. That night, the walls were crumbling, we no longer had names and became at last the tasters of light.

SBL & OAK party for SS2015 Menswear at Le Carmen, Paris, photos by Grace Atkinson.

Golgotha & Dolly Cohen for SBL & OAK PARIS

The ultra talented French collective Golgotha created a digital display for three special customised Grillz designed by the Paris-based artist Dolly Cohen, at the occasion of our exclusive partnership with OAK. To celebrate SS2015 Menswear and the launch of OAK’s new boutique at the Place du Marché St-Honoré, we threw a big party together.

Pump up the volume, watch full screen and open your mouth…

Dolly Cohen & Golgotha for SBL & OAK Paris from Sang Bleu on Vimeo.

A (Sort of) Brief History of Mokomokai

Mokomokai are the severed heads of Maori tribesmen covered in tā moko, traditional Maori chiseled “tattoos.” Unlike the tattoos in other cultures, ta moko was often carved into the flesh with pigment applied to the wound. This resulted in three-dimensional, scarred designs. These heads, although quite interesting in themselves, have an incredible history, transitioning from tribal and spiritual objects to curios, and now to museum artifacts with dubious acquisition histories.

Although the exact meaning and purpose of the tattoos cannot be adequately unpacked here, suffice it to say they were important; different sources have linked the tattoos to written names, markers of prominence, and lifelong companions. [1] When a person with a full facial markings died, his face was often preserved and stored by the person’s family in an ornate box, later being brought out for religious ceremonies.

After the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand in the late 18th Century, the Mokomokai began acquiring a new status as curios. The first traded head is said to have been acquired by Captain James Cook in 1770, and shortly thereafter, Mokomokai became extraordinarily popular as currency for Western firearms in an “arms race” between warring tribes. At one point, demand for the heads was so great that Europeans were able to barter for them before their original wearers had been killed. A 1990 text by Abraham Joseph Wharewaka claims that slaves and war criminals (from rival tribes) would be dragged onboard ships so that patrons could decide on a head in advance.

This commercial success changed the practice of tā moko entirely; while traditionally, the markings were often applied to people of some prominence within a tribe, the tattoos were now applied for the purpose of sale, even sometimes after the recipient’s death. [2] Some sources indicate that in these [...]

An interview with Johnny Tragedy

Currently living and working in New York city where he earned his MFA at Pratt Institute, artist and part-time bartender Johnathan Stanish, or better known by his alter-ego Johnny Tragedy, has his hands in everything. Johnny’s practice ranges from fashion to both kinetic and non-kinetic sculptures.His sculptures borrow heavily from tribal tattoo imagery alluding to neo-tribalism, blending them nicely with screen-printed pop culture emblems.

He manages to excitingly bring elements of a subculture still on the fringes of acceptance to a refined New York art-world audience. In an increasingly cynical critical environment, however, it is important to note that the persona Johnny Tragedy is in no way a cynical avatar. Tragedy is an extension of Stanish as well as a direct consequence of his art practice. Tragedy is the Superman to Stanish’s Clark Kent or vice versa.  I caught up with Johnny in his Chinatown studio to ask him a few questions in order to get a better understanding of his solo and collaborative fashion, sculpture, and curatorial projects.

Your work is informed by body modification and neo-tribalism. Many of your pieces are either three dimensional representations of tribal tattoos with screen print elements or include direct tattooed elements or piercings. The screen print elements are usually of images of easily identified pop culture icons and imagery. Do you think tattoo and body modification, though they seem to be primarily identified as a subcultural practice, can be placed within the same space as pop culture phenomena?

Have you ever seen the reality show Ink Master? That show pretty much describes this phenomenon.


In your opinion is the divide between subculture and pop culture becoming blurred?

When and why did you [...]

Frida Kahlo: Her Photos

Self-assured, politically driven and sexually liberated, Frida Kahlo’s influence so very nearly went undiscovered; vocal in her leftist ideals and unafraid to go against the grain in a time of political and social oppression, her punkish nature continues to inspire and empower.

The view of her thus far has been one of contrast, from media surrounding her marriage (and divorce and remarriage) and affairs, through which she primarily became known, to her repeated, almost obsessive, depiction of her own self image, giving us an insight into the world through her eyes. “Most artists paint to see, but Kahlo painted to be seen,” says American art critic Deborah Soloman, who suggests her self portraiture was much more than a means of solitary reflection, but a way for the artist to communicate with the world she was so often detached from, something that seems more relevant now than ever, in the age of self-promotion where ‘selfie’ is a now recognised mental disorder.

“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best,” she once said, her pursuit developing as a means of whiling away the hours spent alone in recuperation following a severe bus accident (in which she suffered a broken spinal column, collarbone, ribs, pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulders) which left her immobile and restricted to her bed.

“From someone who is ill, one doesn’t expect such an explosion of vitality,” says Mexican writer Carlos Monsiváis, in PBS’ The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo. “That was Frida’s great scandal: not what she said or who she slept with, but rather a sick person who refuses to resign herself to be covered with the [...]