Back markets in everything those new service sector jobs

Tim Steiner has an elaborate tattoo on his back that was designed by a famous artist and sold to a German art collector. When Steiner dies his skin will be framed – until then he spends his life sitting in galleries with his shirt off.

“The work of art is on my back, I’m just the guy carrying it around,” says the 40-year-old former tattoo parlour manager from Zurich.

A decade ago, his then girlfriend met a Belgian artist called Wim Delvoye, who’d become well known for his controversial work tattooing pigs.

Delvoye told her he was looking for someone to agree to be a human canvas for a new work and asked if she knew anyone who might be interested.

…The work, entitled TIM, sold for 150,000 euros (£130,000) to German art collector Rik Reinking in 2008, with Steiner receiving one third of the sum.

“My skin belongs to Rik Reinking now,” he says. “My back is the canvas, I am the temporary frame.”

As part of the deal, when Steiner dies his back is to be skinned, and the skin framed permanently, taking up a place in Reinking’s personal art collection.

“Gruesome is relative,” Steiner says to those who find the idea macabre.

Here is the full story, via the always excellent Tim Harford, author of the new and excellent book Messy.


If it keeps them off the street I'm fine with it.

probably puts them back.

Could make it into a lamp.

An illuminated manuscript.

Mark (((Thorson))) says about Tim (((Steiner))): "Could make it into a lamp" - that's very incendiary language my fiend... da da dumb.... bad joke. (((Ray Lopez)))

its bad for your health, and especially your sense of humor

A razor strop. After all, Europeans have their ways, Americans have their own.

Didn't Roald Dahl write a story about this? I think it might have been called "Canvas."

"Skin," not "Canvas."

There's a similar Saki story called "The Background"

Kafka - "In the Penal Colony".

And that Saki story has even been crappily adapted:

Hard not to think of Bradbury's "The Illustrated Man".

Unrelated to the topic, but I found it interesting enough to poste here. By Bruce Schneier: --- We prefer our software full of features and inexpensive, at the expense of security and reliability. That your computer can affect the security of Twitter is a market failure. The industry is filled with market failures that, until now, have been largely ignorable. As computers continue to permeate our homes, cars, businesses, these market failures will no longer be tolerable. Our only solution will be regulation, and that regulation will be foisted on us by a government desperate to "do something" in the face of disaster.
In this article I want to outline the problems, both technical and political, and point to some regulatory solutions. Regulation might be a dirty word in today's political climate, but security is the exception to our small-government bias. And as the threats posed by computers become greater and more catastrophic, regulation will be inevitable. So now's the time to start thinking about it. ---
Note: Bruce Schneier is a respected security scientist. He was even interviewd on Econtalk once :-)

As a software engineer, I found this to be quite a poor article.

1) The picture he paints of a "world-size robot" where every device is interconnected and hackable is misleading scare-mongering, in my view. There are significant concerns here, but I think this is quite exaggerated. Many of the technologies he mentions have been around for years, without evidence of disaster remotely approaching what he describes.

2) It's not clear that security is being valued incorrectly by the market. A lot is being spent on security already. Lots of software is not secure enough, but what is the cost of this compared to the cost of writing more secure software? Stopping and doing security "right" on every single device would seriously put the brakes on innovation, and this has major costs. If a hospital has some medical records hacked, that harms patients. But if a hospital sets a higher bar for software security, that may mean less useful software to support doctors, which also could harm patients (for example). I think it's more likely that a security expert is overvaluing security, than the market is undervaluing it.

3) I cannot imagine a government regulation regime in this space that would not be disastrous. How on earth could the government effectively police security on millions of devices? As he notes, critical systems are already heavily regulated. I have some experience with meeting FAA requirements on software testing. I think that system probably works, but it comes at a huge cost (we probably spent person-years of time testing a system that had perhaps 50 operational lines of code). It's not a model that could be applied to fridge, DVR, or thermostat software--nor can I think of one. We would probably end up with a useless credentialing regime, where the government certified software developers and companies for following best practices. This would be a bearable cost for large companies, but it would really harm innovation coming from small startups. Personally I think "A government agency needs to exist to regulate this somehow--they can figure out how to do it." is one of the worst possible recommendations that can be made for anything. I'm not a total libertarian on regulation--government can have a positive role in some cases--but arguing for increased regulation without a clear remit, goals, limitations, and operating model is folly.

I had a world size robot once, but didn't have anywhere to put it.

"...But if a hospital sets a higher bar for software security, that may mean less useful software to support doctors"

Heh heh heh

You must be some software engineer if you aren't aware of the design problems wrought by Electronic Medical Records.

Der Google is your friend [EHR]

Let's just be glad the tattoo is on his back.

What about insurance? Things could happen. I'm sure art collectors have policies written by companies that cover art and collectibles. I'm guessing it's s specialty but this seems like a tricky case for actuaries to price at least to me not being familiar with art but always thinking about quantifying risk.

Indeed. Any taxidermist around here? What are the optimal death conditions for skin conservation? I think if the guy dies in a blaze, plane crash or drowned the art piece is lost. The contract should be very interesting.

In the article it says the "canvas" got a third of the payment in advance. I wonder when he's going to get the rest.

Where does it say anything about "in advance"? Presumably the artist got the other two thirds.

Duh! You're right the rest of the money went to this guy:

Maybe the market for this art heats up, and the owner sees the possibility of making a killing. If I were Steiner, I'd watch my back.

The culture that is Germany?

I think I like this one the most.

Yes, with a troubling provenance.

"The culture that is Germany?"

+6 Million

Too soon. Come on, people.

Seems more like a manufacturing sector job.

As with everything else, Futurama predicted this.

I've often wondered why the Tramp Stamp area isn't sold off for an ad. Say, "Eat at Luigi's."

Or "eat around the corner" which is sort of implied by the tattoo.

This is a Brave New World. You need to be prepared to eat on both sides.

There is actually a movie from the late 1960's that covers exactly this topic (incl. insurance worries, artwork price negotiation, etc.): "Le tatoué", which is an excellent comedy. See here: (I am sure it is also available for streaming).

“Gruesome is relative,” Steiner says, smiling as he raises the rusty hacksaw.

Is Messy just a reprocessed version of Antifragile?

I'd be most worried about the enforceability of the claim... Ie what's to stop the wearer from styling to another party after death...

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