Tattooed skin – putting a human under a Foldscope?

I received a call out of the blue from a good friend of mine. He was driving up from Los Angeles to the bay area, because, apparently, one of his favorite tattoo artists was secretly working out of a parlor in San Jose for only 1 week! My friend was tipped off by some cryptic remark that this artist had made on instagram referring to this particular shop in San Jose. Apparently the artist, Koji Ichimaru, has such a huge following that he was booked solid within an hour of posting this tiny hint.

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As was to be expected, the tattoo itself was amazing in detail and playful take on a classic design–a Dia de los Muertos candy skull wearing a samurai helmet. This made me wonder what pigmented skin would look like at a macroscopic level. Adapting a technique I learned from Manu, I was actually able to image the surface of my friend’s skin! Not only that, but I could pan across the entirety of the tattoo.

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The video itself makes a great guessing game for anyone watching it without context… the first guess  I usually hear is “insect”. What struck me was the depth of pigmentation in the skin to the point that we cant immediately recognize it close up.

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For now I’ll leave the exact technique I used a mystery (to be revealed in a future post, and hint, it does not involve shoving an entire human under a Foldscope), but I hope someone can take a guess and figure it out!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    Beautiful post. Putting a human under a foldscope is the first thing we all should do.

    For others trying to solve this mystery of how; I will leave a hint here: read the post on how to turn your foldscope into a reflected light mode here: http://microcosmos.foldscope.com/2015/02/02/simple-addition-to-foldscope-for-reflected-microscopy-of-opaque-objects-a-microchip/

    In fact, microchips and humans have something in common 🙂

    Now – do I need to get a tattoo myself to image it. I would like to use a volunteer instead 🙂

    cheers
    manu

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