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Object Mediated Interaction

Marco Calzolari/ 𝙎𝙄𝙉𝙏𝙀𝙏𝙄𝘾𝙊

I am a multidisciplinary artist from Italy, born in 1996 in Ferrara (FE). I’m a former experimental performing artist for Collettivo Cinetico, BA graduate cum laude in Industrial Design from Politecnico di Milano, current MA graduand at the Royal College of Art and self-taught tattoo practitioner. My work results from the combination of influences and insights I’ve been absorbing from such contexts over the years. 


Previous Degrees

BA Industrial Design, Politecnico di Milano, 2018 (Cum Laude)


Graphic Designer, "Contagio" Photographic Marathon, Netsity, 2017;

Experimental Performing Artist, Collettivo Cinetico, 2014-2016


Work-in-progress Show, Royal College of Art, London, 2020; 

The Exhibitionist, Royal College of Art, London, 2019; 

Milan Design Week Fuorisalone, “Illuminazioni”, ZONA SANTAMBROGIO, 2018; 

<age> Italian Tour + MESS Festival, Sarajevo, 2014-2016



Degree Details

School of Design

Object Mediated Interaction

My practice focuses on the exploration of self-identity through the establishment of processes, experiences and installations, conceived to invite the audience to listen, reflect, introspect. 

I embrace tattooing as one of my media of investigation because of its body-reclaiming power as a primitive form of self-expression and assertion of control over the self via body customization and catharsis.

You: expansion of the self (Film), 2020
You: expansion of the self (Experience Architecture), 2020

You: expansion of the self (Project Diagram), 2020

You: expansion of the self (Tattoo Interface Reflected in the Mirror), 2020

You: expansion of the self (Placement of Devices), 2020

You: expansion of the self (Galvanic Skin Response Device), 2020

You: expansion of the self (Stethoscope), 2020

You: expansion of the self (Experience View), 2020

You: expansion of the self (Tattooing Process), 2020

You: expansion of the self (Tattoo Scanner), 2020

You: expansion of the self (Online Archive), 2020

You: expansion of the self (VR Recorded Experience), 2020

"You: expansion of the self" is an experience about the self while the tattooing process takes place. Similarly to sensory deprivation, in which someone’s brain is ideally isolated from external stimuli with the aim of removing distractions, here the individual is invited to be in touch with themselves while watching and listening to the reflections of their own body. Yet, instead of removing perception of surrounding stimuli, the tattooed subject is fed with projections and a soundscape, both generated by their emotional state and by how this changes during the tattooing experience.

Among humans and animals, changes in sweat glands activity and heart rate depend on the activity of the visceral motor (autonomic) system and are linked with emotional arousal. Monitoring the variation of the first physiological indicator, a Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) device measures the intensity of the person's arousal (without identifying what kind of emotion is felt) and influences the projection of a uniform background, which ranges from blue (low intensity/not excited) to red (high intensity/highly excited). Meanwhile, the sound of their beating heart is live-captured through a stethoscope converted into a microphone and turned into ambient sound. The result is a feedback loop generated by the tattooed subject influencing and being affected by the environment around them; an expanded view of their inner state.

The whole experience is recorded in POV mode by using an action cam attached to the person's head and then uploaded to an online archive. By using a dedicated mobile app embedding image recognition technology, the tattoo scored during the process can be scanned by the wearer to access and relive that specific experience in the future.

While transforming into a mainstream phenomenon, in modern and even contemporary western culture tattooing has been and is still widely assumed as a kind of artistic/artisanal service. Characteristic of the so-called “traditional” scene, in particular, is the idea of entering a tattoo shop located along a public street for getting scored by a more or less known tattoo practitioner a pre-made image ("flash"). In general, such bodily sign may be desired by the wearer for its aesthetic qualities and/or symbolic power, in which case it acts as a material memory of the experience (feeling or event) that it abstractly represents. Either the score is sought just as a form of adornment or for holding a meaning, in both circumstances it will always embed some reminiscence of the tattooing process and the related experience.

Observing the current state of the art, some practitioners are addressing the importance of the tattooing procedure over or in relation to the tattoo as its final outcome. Despite the differences, their works converge to a common aim: to enhance the cathartic and body-reclaiming potential of the tattooing experience through the establishment of contemporary rituals.

(“Blood Script”, Mary Coble, 2008; “Brutal Black Project”, Valerio Cancellier, Cammy Stewart, 2015 - present; “Body of Reverbs”, Michele Servadio, 2014 - present)

In view of this context, with “You: expansion of the self” I question whether the final outcome of the tattooing practice may be just a mark on the skin and therefore the physical memory of an experience, or the tattooing experience itself, in its mindful and introspective conception, recorded and accessible through the tattoo as a bodily interface.


5 month project - ongoing
#bodymodificationEmotionsExperienceIdentity And BodyInstallationInterfaceLoopPerformanceSelf Reflectionsensory immersive experiencesSINTETICOtattooing
Self - love 2020 (Film), 2020

Self - love 2020 (1/ Tapping Tool), 2020

Self - love 2020 (2/ Poking Tool), 2020

Self - love 2020 (Human Body Accessibility Map), 2020

Self - love 2020 (Tattoo Needle), 2020

Self - love 2020 (Scapulae/ Tool 1, 2nd Prototype), 2020

Self - love 2020 (Upper Back/ Tool 1, 1st Prototype), 2020

Self - love 2020 (Popliteal Fossa/ Tool 2, 3rd Prototype), 2020

Self - love 2020 (Front Map), 2020

Self - love 2020 (Left Map), 2020

Self - love 2020 (Right Map), 2020

Self - love 2020 (Back Map), 2020

"Self - love 2020" explores the potential of self-tattooing as an intimate mean to understand and bridge unsettled psychological conditions. It consists of a series of prototypes allowing you to give yourself a tattoo on places of your body otherwise hard to reach or see.

Tattooing, i.e. the insertion of pigment into the skin’s dermis, represents a millenary practice which finds its roots in the heritage of various cultures across the globe. In modern western society it has historically been associated with social deviance and rebellion. However, contemporary associations with tattoos have shifted away from a subversive act to a socially acceptable form of self-expression. Contemporary research shows that, especially among young adults, tattooing potentially becomes a personal process for achieving mindfulness through body customization and catharsis.

Within this context, self-tattooing represents the most intimate way of permanently marking one’s skin, allowing a complete focus on self-reflection. Differently from getting inked by someone else, giving oneself a tattoo represents a practice which is completely personal, carried out by the individual only and unfiltered by the sensitivity of anybody else. While self-tattooing one has the possibility to listen to their own body and introspect until this becomes a sort of mindful process, an act of self-love.

For some individuals, both the tattoo design and where they place it are crucial factors, since, beyond aesthetics, they associate a certain image to an experience (feeling or memory) which physiologically or psychologically connects to a particular part of their body. The overall place where such a process happens is also important, either this is their own room, a rooftop, a boat in the middle of a river or somewhere in the heart of a forest. Safe or unsafe space, wherever the practice takes place this is inherently part of the whole experience.


3 month project
22 July 2020
16:00 (GMT + 0)

Design Products Team Talk: OMI Verblist

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