“Musical Ink” By Jon Blacker


Let me start this review with saying that I’m your typical, middle-aged father, politically conservative, and (per my kid’s perceptions) somewhat puritanical.

I’m generally (generally = 99% of the time) not a fan of skin ink, or other body alterations.  I’m one of those guys who wonders why a stunningly beautiful girl turns around to show an arm that is one solid tattoo, or having some crazy symbol like a skull inked onto her neck.  I’m the same guy who wonders why a handsome young man has holes gauged in his ears the size of a half-dollar.  I want to ask him if, on a windy day, he turns just the right way, do his ear lobes whistle?

All kidding aside, while I don’t necessarily “like” tattoos of any size or stripe, I’m intrigued by our post-modern society’s penchant for any type of body alteration.  What drives those choices?  I’ve heard many say that once they got their first ink, they became addicted.  I find it utterly fascinating.

This fascination is what caused me to look at Blacker’s “Musical Ink”.  For, within the covers, there are hundreds of black and white photos of primarily rock musicians and their body art.  Along with them are the stories.  The stories of why they got a tattoo honoring a person in their life, or honoring a significant event in their life.  It seems a way for them to permanently etch those important people, places, and events in their lives into a daily reminder.  While making a statement that is quite fashionable these days.

While intrigued with the stories, I was more intrigued by the stunning photography.  All pictures were done in black and white, but with an incredible depth and texture reminiscent of the black and white nature pictures of early 20th century master photographer Ansel Adams.

At the very end of the book, we get a short overview of how these pictures were created.  Photographer Blacker used special equipment to capture the near infrared (IR) light spectrum.  The author states: “Generally IR light interacts differently than visible light with skin and tattoo ink. IR wavelengths do not penetrate skin very deeply and give it a milky, ethereal appearance, while tattoo ink absorbs the IR wavelengths, rendering a much higher contrast between the skin and the ink.  It’s this effect that makes these portraits unique and allows you to see these artists in a whole new light.”

The photos are captivating, both as cultural statements, and works of art, and I think this book will appeal to students of both.  If tattoos and body art are your thing, I do recommend this to be your next coffee table book.

I received an e-copy of this book as an ARC from the publisher.  It came with the expectation of a fair and honest review.  There are no personal nor professional ties between the publisher, the author, or this reviewer.

This review will be posted on NetGalley.com; Goodreads.com; my blog: JonReviewsBooks1.Wordpress.com; and will be posted on Amazon.com after the publishing date.


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