The Mutation Manifesto

Humans are unique on this planet in their zest for transformation. Most animals are content to live out their lives as they happen, letting their instincts guide them through whatever fate deals them. Humans, however, have always been into transforming themselves and/or their environment. Most animals change slowly over centuries- a process of gradual evolution. Human kind is more impatient- constantly upheaving things in a state of revolution. Since pre-historic times people have decorated their bodies, adorning themselves with clothes, paint and jewellery which go beyond the practical into the ornamental. There are transformations of the self which are more permanent- physical changes such as scarification, tattooing and body alterations (such as the lip-stretching plates of the Amazons and the neck-stretching bands of some African tribes). Irrefutable changes such as these are likely to affect the consciousness of those who undergo them. The physical realm affects and reflects the mental and spiritual realms. Often we will undergo an outer transformation to signify externally, changes within; the reverse also occurs- if we change our bodies dramatically, our minds and souls are likely to follow suit, adapting to the new forms they are encompassed in. In modern western society there is a huge drive towards mass conformity. Mass media advertising and the availability of mass produced goods (clothes, etc.) has many indoctrinated into all looking alike and living standard suburban lifestyles. In reaction many of those who differ from the norm do so to the extreme. Those who do not wish to be identified with the imbecilic conforming masses make an effort to individualise their appearance as much as possible. Over the decades there have been many different subcultural styles. In the nineties these are all being mixed and merged and mismatched into new mutated forms. The modern mutant draws from many eras, places, cultures and subcultures, bending and blending them together, distorting and contorting them into the future. Mutation is not of course a solely external process. Many people are constantly transforming themselves through drugs, meditation, music and magic. These things are, like the different styles of adornment which may outwardly symbolise them, in a constant state of flux, drawing from the vast array of sources available this century and mutating them into new forms. Tattooing is an ages-old artform that is finally being recognised as such. Modern western tattooists are at last breaking away from the confines of "pop art", cartoon imagery and realism, now incorporating abstractions and tribal designs from many cultures. Some tattooists are beginning to take body form into account- instead of just "stamping" flat pictures onto the skin, images are being twisted and twined around the form of the body. This added dimension and the new range of colours and tones available are beginning to take tattooing beyond mere surface drawing and into the realms of painting and even sculpture. Things can be sewn into the skin for added texture, etc. Many parts of the body can be stretched and reshaped over time. We are not so bound to the forms we were born with as it may at first seem- our bodies are toys to be played with. Likewise our minds and spirits can experience revolution through medicines or other magical means. We can open doorways to other realms of possibility. Even science is beginning to admit that "consensus reality" is not the only reality. What scares many about tattoos and other body alterations is that they are irrevocable. This is true, and for this reason the effects, inner and outer, of such changes should be considered carefully before one begins; but the fact that most people tend to neglect is that there is always the possibility of further change. If you don't like something you've changed on/in yourself, keep changing until you do. There is no going back, granted, but you can always go further forward. The possibilities are endless. Don't be afraid to change. Stagnation is our enemy.

Mutate now!

Article by Orryelle Defenestrate, 1991 oxd@binary.net.au