Interactive storytelling from Melbourne’s Betanarratives

Published:  March 6, 2015
Katia Pase

Melbourne creative collective Betanarratives, the new kids on the digital block, have launched their first interactive piece of storytelling, Skin Deep. A beautifully documented, animated and edited work of first-person journalism, Skin Deep explores tattoo culture and the perceived permanence of tattoos in an increasingly impermanent society.


The piece, edited by Jessica Yu, features considered prose, soundscapes and voiceover, documentary-style filming and animated illustrations, using html5 parallax scrolling navigation in the style of a Pitchfork feature.

Skin Deep opens with a full screen, close-up video of skin being inked, the jittering sound of a needle cutting through the dreamy soundtrack. We’re introduced to ex tattoo-model and elder of the industry, Bev Robinson (or, Cindy Ray as her alias goes) and John Kenney, who speculates about donating his skin to an art gallery after he passes:

“He approximates, rather wildly, that four or five houses worth of ink is embedded just under the surface of about 95% of his skin. This seems unlikely, but nevertheless it is still a lot of money to spend decorating skin he doesn’t intend to keep.

‘None of this is gonna be taken with me. When I go, it’s all getting left behind.’

He tells me that he has written in his will that he wants to donate his skin to Canberra’s Belconnen Arts Centre.”

The video is precise in humanising the characters and capturing their colour, while their own voices drift in and out of the soundtrack, bringing life to the narrative through the subtleties of the subjects’ diction and tone. The animated illustrations, set against a muted pink background, provide a beautiful reinterpretation of those permanent marks, and the desire to control the uncontrollable.


Skin Deep credits

Editor: Jessica Yu
Writer: Brendan McDougall
Animator and Illustrator: Meg Gough-Brooks
Video Director: Angeline Armstrong
DOP/Video editor: Simon Gilberg
Composer: Esmond Angeles
Sound Designer: Dave Williams
Web Designer and Graphic Designer: Mellisa Hankins
Web Designer: Bradley Jackson

One Response

  1. Bonnie

    This is just wonderful.

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