Every once in a while our strenuous efforts to trawl the news-feeds for relevant articles turns up something truly surprising, and artist Luna Cobra definitely falls into that category. But is his "pioneering" eyeball tattoo really going to catch on?
is an American artist, nearly a decade ago a friend inspired him to take a needle to the eyes of three brave volunteers at a private body modification convention. The friend had photoshopped a picture of himself to make the whites of his eyes appear blue, inspired by the film Dune. Luna decided this was something he could actually do for real.
By making small injections of pigment into the eye, so that it sits just beneath the thin outer layer, the conjunctiva. It usually takes four injections to completely cover the eye.
The effect can be profoundly different according to the choice of colour. Luna warns against going too dark, the effect can be to make the iris invisible, which in turn makes it impossible for people to make eye contact with you... throw in the unsettling appearance of the dark eyes and you cannot deny there is some serious antisocial non verbal communication going on. Softer, pastel shades make for an very different outcome.
Kylie Garth is a body piercer who was working at Luna Cobra's Sydney studio. Having already experimented with several body modifications, some of which are visible in the photograph, she elected to go for having both eyeballs tattooed, making her one of the few women in the world with the treatment. She claims the reaction has been universally positive to her blue-green eyes, a colour she like to call sea-foam.
A Dark Turn
The proliferation of eyeball tattooing in the early days saw it appearing in US prisons, it was an easy way for a convict to distinguish themselves in world full of tattooed mean. The US reality show LockUp showed two men attempting the treatment using smuggled in equipment. Stories of its popular adoption among some Brazilian teenagers and in Russian sub-cultures are causes for concern to the inventor Luna, he sees the dangers in the wrong pigments being used, or the pigments being inserted too deep. Just the same, a google search for eyeball tattoo shows nearly half a million returns... so maybe you will bump into someone with the treatment on a street near you.
No Such Think As A New Idea
While Luna Cobra has developed his own version the tattooiing of eyeballs has been around for a very,very long time. Over 2000 years ago the philospher Galen wrote about "tinting the iris". The treatment was performed to camouflage the effects of glaucoma. It was revived in the 19th Century and a much refined version of the process is still in use today.