* History *
ritual and mechanisation

Habour towns were always places where sailors brought the stories and motifs that they had collected whilst travelling the seas. Sailors would regale the people they met with tales of their travels and tattoo artists would sometimes inscribe these themes into their skins. But in return, the tattoos they collected also provided a means by which the motifs from exotic cultures were carried around the world.

A reciprocal relationship.

Tattooing has passed through a long history. Statues prior to 8000 BC have been found, bearing marks which are believed to be ancient tattoos. The Bronze Age man(roughly 5000 years old) recently discovered in the Alps carried several tattoos on his body. The mummies of the chiefs of Iron Age horsemen and warriors in the steppes of Western Asia also carry tattoos of monsters crawling over their chest and legs.

In contrast to the religious and ritualistic tattooing of the Maori, known as Moko, or the practice of the Mayas, Incas and Aztecs, the Western tradition founded in the 18th and mainly 19th century derives from the stories of explorers such as Captain Cook brought back to Europe on his return in 1771 from his first voyage to the South Seas.

It is known that centuries earlier the art of tattooing in Europe was practiced the Gauls, the Teutons, the Picts, and the Greeks. The Danes and Saxons, upon their invasion of Britain, brought an elaborate culture of tattooing to the island: a tradition of engraving tribal symbols onto their bodies.

By the beginning of the 20th century, a huge number of motifs, patched together from stories, artefacts, symbols, and tradition had been amassed. The extensive journeys of sea travellers in the 18th century and the industrial revolution in the 19th century which brought with it the invention of the electric tattoo machine by Samuel O'Reilly in New York had been significant contributions. This machine changed the practice of tattooing drastically, minimalsing the time needed to create a design which had previously been rendered by a lengthy process of 'pricking' by hand.

The possibility of directly and fluently tattooing free hand onto the skin made it possible for tattoo artists to work spontaneously with the body. This had an impact on the motifs used - the old seaside motifs concerned primarily with became less popular and new designs appeared, dealing with the structure of the body.

At the end of the 20th century another world has appeared for which no satisfactory maps have yet been drawn. Travellers in the internet encounter new signs and symbols, metaphors and figures on a daily basis. These voyages have lead to the invention of CYBERTATTOO and the building of the PARLOUR MAID - the digital engraving machine.

We believe that the new modes of travelling will lead a new aesthetics of tattooing. Analogous to the end of the 19th century, the digital technology supporting CYBERTATTOO and the PARLOUR MAID will change the art of tattooing. Travellers can submit their experiences, stories, and icons and collect tattoos on their journey all over the world, and at the same time receive on-line inscriptions of a variety of motifs onto the body by simply pressing a button to start the digital engraving machine.

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