For those deeply involved with the tattoo industry, the name Anthony Antonellis will ring many bells. However, for the casual tattoo aficionado, the name probably doesn’t recall much information, if any at all. However, this is a name you’ll want to remember.
Anthony Antonellis is an artist of many different medias. His work has included everything from painting to tattoo work—and now is making its way into the world of biotechnology.
Living in New York, Antonellis runs his practice primarily on the internet, which is fitting given his dabbling in the modern technologies of the art world. He attended the Universität Weimar in Germany, where he earned an MFA in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies, as well as receiving a BFA in painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. His CV reads like an artist’s dream, with a laundry list of exhibits, panels, workshops, online exhibitions, and selected events and screenings. He’s a force to be reckoned with in the art world.
So, how does this translate into the tattoo industry?
One of the biggest headline-making projects crafted from the imagination of Antonellis involves this medium: the digital tattoo.
You can’t see this tattoo at a glance. Instead of being placed in the epidermis, as a normal tattoo would be, this digital tattoo is subdermal—meaning, it is placed underneath the skin. There is a small scar visible, but otherwise, the location of the tattoo appears rather normal at first look. But, if Antonellis holds his smartphone next to the location of the mystery tattoo, the art suddenly appears.
This tattoo is actually created with a RFID chip, or a radio frequency identification chip. This RFID chip is roughly the same size as a grain of rice and stores approximately 1KB of data. The chip can be read by compatible devices such as smartphones, tablets, card readers, and certain microcontrollers. While most often used for tracking goods, people, or animals, touchless payments and toll collection, and access management, Antonellis has carved out a new use for the chip. He plans on using it to store his artwork, making his collective works available to anyone or any device he may be near, while keeping his art with him at all times.
Antonellis is the first to dive into the world of implanted biotechnology, but he will certainly not be the last. In fact, in 2013, Motorola discussed the concept of utilizing digital tattoos to securely access all digital accounts, in an effort to increase online security. Flexible circuits would be embedded in the digital tattoo and would contain built-in sensors that would relay information to cell phones, tablets, and other devices in order to safely and securely confirm the user’s identity.
While this technology has yet to be brought to light, it is safe to say that it is coming. Between Antonellis’ explorative work in the biomechanical tattoo genre, and digital corporations constantly searching for a safer way to protect users’ online data, it is only a matter of time before we begin to transition into the next wave of tattooing: where technology and art will meet.
Photo credit: Wired.com, Animalnewyork.com