Last summer, as we prepared to travel to Black Rock City to photograph Burners with Love Letter To the World tattoos, we realized we were facing a problem we had not encountered with our city-based tattoo projects: many people who got Love Letter tattoos seemed to forget about photographing their tattoo or about uploading a photo to the website. (With the city-based tattoo artworks, each participant is photographed by a professional photographer.)
How did we know this? Not only by the number of times each tattoo phrase had been downloaded from our website (hundreds of times), but also through our own experiences. Every so often folks would tell us about encountering someone with a Love Letter tattoo. Frequently, after talking about that person and their tattoo, we would realize that we didn’t have a picture of that particular tattoo. When these participants were friends of friends, we would contact them and try to photograph them ourselves. But we also knew there were many many tattoos we had never even heard about.
So last summer we came up with a way to both include more people as participants and to capture photographs of some of the phrases we were missing. We were headed to Burning Man, we knew that Burners like to play along, and we also knew the sun is intense in Black Rock City.
That’s how we came up with “light tattoos”: we would use sunlight and a laser-cut mirror to project the designs of tattoo phrases onto the skin of fellow Burners.
We spent the mornings at Burning Man photographing some of the hungry folks waiting in line for our famous Kentucky Fried Camp breakfast. We gave everyone a choice between two phrases, either before or just after they had received their shot of bourbon and their fried bologna sandwich.
Here is a small collection of images. You will see many more on the website once the full-length video goes live (soon).
Note 1: Once our video is live, we will also post a collection of images of our KFC campmates sporting light tattoos. Many of them were early ambassadors for Love Letter To the World, getting their ink before Black Rock City 2014 and proudly wearing them at our own first Burn in 2014.
Note 2: Because everyone we photographed in Black Rock City 2015 loved our light tattoos, we will be using this same process for creating images in a new artwork in 2016!