Daegeun Kang


29 June 2017

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Daegeun Kang


In primitive times, many tribes inscribed the patterns or incantations on objects on their bodies. That was why tattoos began. They became increasingly diverse and covered the entire body. The skin is like the land that the needle walks on. It is dyed with a wide range of colors including red, black, blue, and yellow. The head (skull) became longer and was changed to have jagged shapes. The crown of the head finally got close to Heaven and was held as sacred. To match these developments, the neck grew longer and longer little by little. Some put a ring around the neck, being afraid that it might break. That was how a necklace became a solid ally to support the neck. After the needle was applied, the ear obtained an earring and the nose a nose ring. The lips also became a place to make a hole. Earrings grew bigger and bigger, and nose rings became thicker gradually like in hopscotch. Watching for any space it might have missed, piercing made its way even into deep and vulnerable places secretly including the nipples, navel, and sexual organs. Suddenly the feet started to become smaller. Their bones were broken and growth controlled. The outcome was one light enough to hold with one hand, seeming feeble. The pitiful feet were compared with the small waist. The slender waist kept long breaths from taking place. A leather band was wrapped around it to cheer it. Meanwhile, layers of colors began to cover the face from white powder to red rouge. They gradually evolved into cosmetics.

(“The impulse to adorn the face and body and everything that they can get their hands on is the starting point of formative arts.” – Adolf Loose)

Gods are absolute, but humans are not. We tend to get suspicious of even trivial things. As a natural body was deemed to be uncivilized, the body moved toward the direction in opposite to the ideal of nature. As one said “The most developed form is the most complete form,” we might try to become more and more human by going through external changes (by carving and refining). Or we might wish to become the Creator like Hephaistus sculpted Pandora.
The human body is changing. The catalyst can be culture or other things. One thing for certain is that aesthetics cannot be excluded. Aesthetics is like a warranty issued by culture. It resembles the sacredness of gods like what the Absolute Being duplicates. It can be a standard for good or bad. It can also hold absolute value. It might wish to possess and become a direction or goal to be pursued. It can make a demand for sacrifice and patience from us, but it serves as a pulley to pull us from the bottom.

– A knife in a murder case is a deadly weapon. It punctures the skin, digs up the bone, and steals life from the person. It commits a crime. It commits the most heinous crime whose cruelty is beyond one’s imagination.
– In medicine, a knife is sacred. It punctures the skin, digs up the bone, and protects life. It makes one shed tears. It makes one hold their hands tight, marveling at the preciousness of life.
– In plastic surgery, however, the skin is cut here and there; the bone is partially removed; and prosthetic materials are inserted here and there, being expanded or shrunk. The entire process is, however, never cruel or scary because it is only for becoming prettier, which is important. People give their body to the operation table too easily out of this faith, which is cruel and even scary. What we are aware of is beauty, not the process. Contradictions entangled in the process are added one by one. Lumps form a shape, which soon earns a piece of the body.