In the movie MODIFY, writers/directors/producers Greg Jacobson and Jason Gary take a broad look at what is perceived of as body modification in contemporary US culture. They not only present a who's who of the modern body art movement, but a what's what of modifications possible. One concept heard repeatedly expressed by the subjects of the film is the idea of body modification as existing along a spectrum or continuum. How extreme the mod is can often just a matter of perspective.
A lot of pioneers in the field of body art were interviewed for this project. Among them are Fakir Musafar (Father of the Modern Primitives movement), Jim Ward (founder of Gauntlet), Allen Falkner (suspension artist, TSD), and Steve Haworth (pioneer of subdermal implants). Notable characters such as the Lizard Man and Stalking Cat talk about their full body transformations.
You need a more-than-CSI-gore tolerance to watch all of this film comfortably. A variety of body modification procedures are presented in full graphic detail. There are some common plastic surgery procedures such as liposuction, a facelift and breast implantation. For piercings, you get to explore the full spectrum from simple ear piercings to lobe scalpeling to surface piercing and even watch as a girl has a series of piercings laced down her entire back. Electro-cautery branding is totally bloodless, but cuttings are not. If you've wondered how those subdermal implants got into people's arms, you'll get to see how. And if you've ever had fantasies about really growing a set of horns on your forehead, this is your movie!
The discussions of intention address body modification as being done for sexual enhancement, aesthetic pleasure, shock value and spiritual growth. Opinions agreed that the true intent and purpose driving various body art practices most often was very individual, and that a common misperception among those that don't practice body art is that those persons who do pursue it all for the same reasons. With different practices aligned along a spectrum, it was remarked multiple times how easy it was to look "down" the spectrum and discount certain experiences, and equally easy to look "up" the spectrum and label such body mod practices as extreme or shocking.
One of the biggest points made by MODIFY is that beauty is really an opinion, or as people often say "in the eye of the beholder." Medical professionals talk about how ethics often reflect public aesthetic opinion when it comes to what practices are sanctioned and which aren't. Body modification artists express how their customers come for assistance with a personal decision that channels individual aesthetics and how they often feel their business is about helping people feel happier and more in tune with themselves.
MODIFY was shown at film festivals in Melbourne and Montreal in 2005, and was an early selection at the Tribeca Film Festival as well. You can see highlights from the film or get info on buying the DVD at www.modifythemovie.com