Mapping the Body as a Virtual Landscape: Tattoos as an Immersive Medium with Hypertextual Somatic Narratives


  • Stephanie Weber independent scholar, Vienna, Austria


tattoo, hypertext, tattoo narrative, e-Tattoo, corporeality


This paper explores the way in which tattoos and tattooing can be understood so as to rewrite hypertextual narrative structures which turn the body into a virtual space. This involves two accounts of multimodal storytelling – the journal-style novel The Tattooed Map by Barbara Hodgson, and the use of the heart symbol in the interactive E-tattoo projects Skintillates and SkinMarks. Tattoos and hypertext will be understood in this context as narrative forms which are not limited to a two-dimensional linear form, but instead open up possibility of cross-medial, intertwined and co-operative writing. These somatic narratives rupture the Self’s singularity by forming links with various other elements in the text which they create. This extends the body’s capacity. This utopia of an almost incorporeal lived experience rewrites the volatility of the postmodern subject, while the physical inscription of the tattoo simultaneously helps to anchor and built the wearer’s identity. This is a dichotomy which will be traced back not only to the history of the sociocultural practice of tattooing, but also briefly linked to hypertext fiction as a genre.