April 21, 2021

Cultural Tattoos Become Invisible in Wet Collodion Prints

via Puaki

Here’s an interesting fact about photography that you probably didn’t know: The 1800s wet plate collodion photography process can make certain tattoos disappear in photos. It’s a curious phenomenon that photographer  Michael Bradley has put in the spotlight while working on his project Puaki.

via Puaki

Bradley decided to focus his camera on the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand, whose traditional tā moko tattoos have been making a resurgence. Tā moko is different from ordinary tattooing because chisels (called uhi) are used to carve the skin and opposed to using needles and puncturing. As a result, the skin is grooved rather than smooth in the tattoo areas.

via Puaki

The photographer had been shooting on wet plate collodion method for a few months and was looking for a long-term project when he saw the image of people with tattoo’s and noticed that some faded away depending on the color of that tattoo.

via Puaki

The concept of his project is ‘to come forth, show itself, open out, emerge, reveal, to give testimony,’ which the artist started hoping to engage the public and make them learn more about tā moko and how Māori culture forms an integral part of modern society.

via Puaki

via Puaki

via Puaki

via Puaki