The Skin Project Project: calling all words

For Shelley Jackson’s Skin Project, more than two thousand people volunteered to have a word from a short story tattoed on their bodies. They, and only they, will eventually receive copies of the full piece of fiction.

My friend Phil “law” Campbell (Zioncheck for President) participated in the project, and has put together The Skin Project Project, a Blogspot/Flickr combo designed to capture photographs of all the project tattoos in existence. Says Campbell:

I’m launching this site with Shelley’s blessing. The only constraint she gave me was that I not reveal the precise order of her Skin Project –– that is, that I do not deliberately put words in their correct order to make sentences, paragraphs, etc. I am a great fan of artistic endeavors that include built-in restraints or rules, so I will abide by it (sadly, I am also an even bigger fan of cheating, so to prevent temptation from kicking in I will not ask the other ‘words’ for their assigned numerical sequence in Shelley’s story).

If all the words are gathered, perhaps we can figure out the correct order of this story ourselves, before she distributes the story (I’ve had my tattoo for more than a year now and have yet to see the story). After all, the structure of this project is like a jigsaw puzzle — isn’t a word that ends with a period sort of like an edge piece in a puzzle? Everyone knows you start a puzzle with edge pieces. Maybe logic will dictate the rest. Or maybe not. Maybe this will just be an interesting way for the public and the Skin Project participants to see all the words.

The photos above represent about half of the ones he’s collected so far. If you’re a word, email Campbell your photo. If not, stay tuned. As the photos pour in, maybe you can help Campbell solve the complicated puzzle of word order.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.