Inspirational Tattoo artist Vinnie Myers boosts the confidence of breast cancer survivors by giving them back what they lost.
Working out of his Finksburg, MD studio, Myers gives women back the bodies they loved before surgery by tattooing special nipple designs on their lovely lady lumps. Myers, who started as a traditional tattoo artist while in the army, currently mixes a wide palette of paint to achieve a 3-D effect design of areolas. Too often, he says, women just get the basic, nothing too fancy but that does the job of bringing back color and livelihood to the area. The women he tattoos say that the process doesn’t hurt much since most sensation is lost during surgery.
The now-infamous Playboy image later re-appropriated by Shinji
For his project “Nipple,” the multimedia artist Shinji Murakami approaches female eroticism in an unexpected way, creating 8-bit images from photographs of Janet Jackson’s Superbowl “nip-slip,” Paris Hilton’s breast-baring bikini, and Kim Kardashian’s Playboy images. In constructing the pixilated images, the artist focuses solely on a tiny square area of each celebrity’s nipple.
In bringing the erogenous zone into the digital age, Shinji paradoxically desexualizes this part of the female body; while the original images are intended to be or considered to arousing, the blown-up nipple’s abstract, geometric pixel patterns inspire no erotic response. In this way, the work might be seen as a brutal reminder that, try as it might, digital media cannot stand in for true sexual intimacy.
Or perhaps “Nipple” is an unsettling prophecy: as we rely more upon technology, this series represents a more modern “sexy.” Erotic images of women’s bodies are becoming more accessible and more mass-produced; the video game industry, whose advanced technology serves as Shinji’s inspiration, has been criticized for its objectification of women. “Nipple” is that idea taken to the extreme; in these works, these female subjects are reduced to a single body part, and in turn, that body part is pixelated and transformed into an utterly dehumanized abstraction.
That is not to say that the images don’t contain beauty; in fact, the simplicity of their geometric form spotlights lovely hues. Each woman’s flesh becomes a digital tapestry of unexpected color variances. Like a modern take on the work of French Impressionists, “Nipple” precisely examines and deconstructs its subjects into tiny sections; here, in the place of a heavy brushstroke, is a pixel. What do you think of this conceptual take on the cultural connotations of the female body? Is it offensive or refreshing?