It wasn’t that easy to wait for another volume of the Bizarre’s Body Art series and not only because there were several months of wait between publishing Body Art 2 and 3. Once it was available at the end of March 2012, Amazon decided to play tricks on me and my copy took almost 4 weeks to land in my mailbox. Once in, however, it took only casual flipping through it to see that this time it won’t be a disappointment, either.
Those of us who read the first two volumes of the series will see that the format of the books was more or less preserved. You will still find here such sections as short chapters on given mods (this time it’s facial tattoos and saline injections, so brace up for Japanese kids with very interesting faces!) and pages devoted to readers’ tattoos. The Bizarre magazine tries to keep up the pace with the body modification artists, however, so you can also find here some information on quite radical procedures. And that’s just the moment when new ‘body mod masterclasses’ appear again. This time they focus on 3-D tattoos, branding, eyebrow removal and a few other ideas that have been made doable by body artists. Of course, no one can expect a very exact how-to instruction; the info is quite brief and focuses on very basic things therefore everyone out there should make sure not to take the book as a manual!
What I liked about this volume the best, though, was its focus on people who’ve made the body modification industry and subculture the way it is now. There’s a very interesting (even though brief again) section devoted to ‘metal gurus’ where Samppa von Cyborg (who is also featured in other places of the book as a sort of a guide around the world of modern body modifications), Steve Haworth and Lukas Zpira who all have their big share in having made the body modification concept and possibilities what they are now. I was particularly happy, though, when I saw a short interview with Shannon Larratt right there (although somehow I doubt that Shannon would take a label ‘metal guru’ seriously!) as he has been and continues to be a huge inspiration for so many of us out there.
The people focus doesn’t end here yet as you can also find here such interesting personas as La Negra, the Scary Guy and Lars Krutak who nicely combines the TV glitter, body mod edge and the academic world. A very interesting interview was also conducted with ManWoman who many of us got to know first via the Modern Primitives book, so this way the Bizarre made a nice bow towards the past and showed the present and let us be up to date on the man/woman whose life purpose is to reclaim the meaning of swastika. The gesture towards the past is nicely juxtaposed with another bow towards the future as here you’ll also find pages devoted to Stellarc , professor Kevin Warwick and Samppa (again) with his fascinating idea of a vibrating penis implant.
If the reader’s head begins to spin with all these ideas and possibilities, they can use another good addition to this volume and that is body mod glossary that explains the most popular kinds of body modification introduced to the reader both in this and previous Body Art books. Add to it good quality photos and not bad writing and you can’t go wrong with Body Art 3.
Of course, there are things that you could find lacking here. A short bibliography or at least some recommended reading list would be good. More interviews with such talented and very reputable artists like Brian Decker and performers like the Lizardman would be more than welcome (not to mention suspension pioneers like Allen Falkner or Havve Fjell). More focus on the history of body modification both in the western world and in other cultures (along with some recommended books on the subject) would be great. Let’s not forget, though, that these books are more along the handy (pocket-size) encyclopedia on the subject rather than very thorough treatises on many different aspects of body modification.
Am I satisfied with this one? Yes as it celebrates body modification again! It shows both these who are a part of this world and these who may feel afraid of even looking at tattoos how beautiful and meaningful such ‘decorations’ can be. Do I expect more? Yes because the subject is vast and there’s still a lot to cover!
Body Art 3, Titan Books 2012