With the advancement of prosthetic technology, amputees are finding more and more ways to overcome the limitations of their disabilities. JC Sheitan Tenet lost his right arm 22 years ago, but has been working as a tattoo artist for the last eight, thanks to a prosthetic shell with a tattoo machine mounted on it. In The Cyborg Tattoo Artist, a new video from Great Big Story, Tenet describes how French biomechanic artist Jean-Louis Gonzal built the prosthetic tattoo rig that helped him to fully realize his creative work.
The two first met at a tattooing convention where Gonzal was showcasing some of his extraordinary artworks. From the brief glimpse we get in the video, Gonzal’s work looks like a kind of steampunk taxidermy. The mechanical intricacy of Gonzal’s work prompted Tenet to ask about a prosthetic tattoo machine, and the two started to brainstorm from there.
Gonzal says the main objective was to create a machine that would allow Tenet to tattoo, but that the aesthetic of the device was still very important to him. When it was finished, the prosthetic arm was fastened with a fully operational tattoo machine that could pivot in 360 degrees. Says Gonzal, “I saw him a bit like a boy who had a new toy to work with. [...] For me, the message is always positive. I have to say that he only lost an arm. He lost nothing else.” Check out the mechanical arm in action, and hear the true story behind its making, below: