Artist implants an RFID chip under the skin to turn into a walking gallery

Chip encased in glass holds just 1Kb of data - enough for a small gif

James Vincent@jjvincent
Thursday 22 August 2013 16:55

Moving tattoos may still be solely the preserve of science fiction, but net artist Anthony Antonellis has come up with a makeshift solution: a chip embedded under his skin that can be scanned by smartphones to display tiny works of art.

Anteonellis is part of an established undercurrent of individuals who continue to experiment with interactions between technology and our bodies.

These groups go by a variety of names - transhumanists, biohackers, grinders – and are split between university professionals with surgical-grade equipment and anaesthetics, and kitchen-table enthusiasts kitted out with nothing more than sharp knife and a bottle of vodka.

For Antonellis’s procedure there was just a 0.75-inch blade and an RFID chip the size of a grain of sand. The latter was encased in glass to stop it from contaminating his body and insert underneath the skin between the thumb and index finger of his left hand.

As the chip can only store 1Kb of data (lthat's less than a page of text) the size of the embedded artwork is tiny, but it has other advantages: Antonellis can update it whenever he feels like it, and it can be seen by anyone who simply holds their smartphone above the chip.

“It’s usually used for privacy, but I use it for a public purpose, which is to distribute artwork,” Antonellis told New York-based art website Animal.

The current piece in question is a tiny animated gif consisting of just 10 frames and 6 colours. When Antonellis holds his smartphone above the chip it picks up the RFID’s signal and displays his art: “Think of it as a changeable, digital net art tattoo.”

Watch the video below to see the implant and the art itself (warning, graphic images) or go to Animal's website to read the full story.

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