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Tattoos that Play Music: Mixing Media with Body Art

It’s official: Artists can pair ink with digital technology to add music and spoken words to tattoos.

Skin Motion built an app that interprets waveforms tattooed on the body. The app scans a Soundwave Tattoo, as they are called, and plays the audio. In this way, Soundwave Tattoos talk or play music to personalize and augment reality. You can scan a tattoo to hear music or listen to a loved one’s voice say “I love you,” recite a special quote, or even tell a funny joke. It’s augmented reality that builds on the physicality of the human form.

Augmented reality platforms overlay digital information on top of the physical world. Soundwave Tattoos incorporate cutting-edge technology, art, and audio to culminate in mixed media body art. It’s an interactive mobile experience.

3 Steps to Getting a Soundwave Tattoo

  1. The first step in getting a Soundwave Tattoo is to upload up to one minute of audio to the Skin Motion app or website.
  2. Skin Motion translates the sounds into a waveform that a Skin Motion-certified tattoo artist can print and transfer onto the skin.
  3. After the tattoo is completed, anyone can scan the tattoo with a mobile device and use the app to play the sound encoded in the tattoo.

Highly Personalized Mixed Media Has Huge Emotional Impact

The tattoo artform offers a way to preserve and share personal and life-affirming moments. For millenia, artisans have created custom designs which often take up to 40 hours to render to the skin. Today, tattoo artists have growing opportunities to mix technology and other elements into this art.

Tattoos that can produce sounds capture personal moments of great importance. One person got a Soundwave Tattoo containing the voice of his father, who died from cancer. Another got her daughter Lily saying, “I love you, Mommy,” and still another recorded the priceless sounds of baby babble.

All captured lasting memories that they can replay indefinitely.

If you’re an audio engineer or a visual artist considering getting inked or want to create tattoo art yourself, musical tattoos offer new and exciting opportunities for your exploration.

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