Back in June 2012
, I posted about a guy down in Australia, Geoff Ostling, who hopes to have his tattooed skin hung on a gallery wall as art after he dies. I got the impression that Mr. Ostling thought his idea of displaying tattoo art postmortem was something new, but it turns out there already is a decades-old tattoo hall of fame.
The April 3, 1950 issue of Life magazine
included an article about Dr. Sei-ichi Fukushi, curator of the Imperial University of Tokyo's collection of tattooed human skins. As of 1950, he had already acquired 38 human skins which were on display in the University's gallery, and Dr. Fukushi was eager to expand the collection.
Sure, they had to work in hot, stifling conditions. They frequently suffered from bronchitis, silicosis, TB and rheumatism. Rock falls, flooding, and arsenic poisoning were constant dangers. (Arsenic being a by-product of tin mining). But they didn't get pimples. So life was good.
[info about the dangers of tin mining from bbc.co.uk
I don't normally pay much attention to banner ads, but my eye was drawn to this one. Why, I wonder, is the person's face a bright shade of purplish-red like a boiled lobster? Is that a side-effect of whatever treatment this company is offering, or just a poor choice of model?
From "The Worker's Hand" by George Rosen, M.D. in Ciba Symposia
As someone who's spent too much time at a keyboard during my life, resulting in bad carpal tunnel syndrome, I can definitely empathize with these hands abused and deformed by work.
A tanner. Creases deeply stained.
Walnut sheller. Stained fingers.
Wood carver. Oval callouses in the center of the palm.
Jeweler. Dislocated distal phalanx of the thumb.
Glass polisher. Shortened, brittle nails.
Metal worker. Penetration of metal particles into the skin.
Worker in a glass factory. Callosities produced by mechanical work.
Retired teacher Geoff Ostling is covered in tattoos by Australian artist eX de Medici. He likes them so much that he wants them to be preserved for posterity. So he's bequeathed his skin to the National Gallery in Canberra so that after he's dead it can be tanned and hung on the wall for everyone to see. The Gallery hasn't accepted it yet, and Ostling realizes the bequest is controversial, but he thinks the controversy is a result of people being overly squeamish
What are the ethical problems with the display of human skins? Is it because a beautiful tattooed human skin may force people to confront their own mortality? That we all will die one day and none of us really knows what will happen after we die. Is this the big problem that makes some people shiver? I see the tanning of my skin and donating it to the Gallery as being no different to allowing the transplant of my heart or my lungs if they will save another person's life. The skin is the largest organ of the body.
Images via zimbio.com
It rubs the Flesh Brush on its skin!
From Scientific American, Sep 17, 1881
If interested, you can buy a genuine Flesh Brush on eBay
, for a mere $174.95.
The medical rule I've heard is that you're not supposed to pick at zits or skin growths, because you'll only make them worse — or cause an infection. But apparently this rule doesn't apply to seborrheic keratoses. According to Dr. George Lundberg
, Editor in Chief of MedGenMed, go ahead and pick 'em. Or rather, use "fingernail surgery" to remove 'em. That's what he does!
However, Lundberg's advice hasn't met with universal approval from the medical community. Among the resonses to his editorial on MedGenMed is this one:
To the Editor:
I find your piece embarrassing and unworthy of your Internet service.
If you had bothered to do some research, even just reading eMedicine, you would find that curettage, not excision, is the recommended treatment -- a far more sterile version of a fingernail surgery. The curettage procedure is usually nonscarring though rarely some mild hypopigmentation may result.
The use of fingernail surgery is to be condemned as it is a bacterially contaminated area.
Picking at one's own skin with the fingernails is a bad habit and in its extreme form can become obsessive and result in scarring -- a disorder known as neurotic excoriation.
Many elderly gentlemen will pick at solar keratoses on their scalp, leaving it in a persistent state of bleeding and infection; I sincerely hope that you are not headed in this direction.
If your medical colleagues excise your seb warts or cause significant scars, or if you suspect that they choose their therapies on the basis of cost benefit to themselves, I suggest you take the matter up with your State Medical Board rather than indulging in self-injury.
If there is any doubt about the diagnosis, the curetted specimen can be sent for pathology.
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia