The experience of getting a tattoo can be nerve-racking, especially if it’s your first time. Once you've chosen an artist, a design, and a placement, there's still the act of actually sitting in the parlor while someone preps you and the equipment for a session of vibrating pain. It could make anyone uneasy. The needles in tattoo machines puncture skin between 50 and 3000 times per second, permanently depositing ink into the dermis layer. Watching those quick, mechanical stabs while listening to the interminable hum of the machine could make relaxing even harder. And yet, somehow, slowing down the process to see exactly how tattooing is done not only demystifies the ritual, but it makes for some pretty calming footage.
There are scientific explanations for why we love slow-motion. Writer and neuroscientist David Eagleman has suggested that slow-mo acts like a memory trick, giving us more time to play back and enjoy things in greater detail. “From a transhumanist perspective,” he wrote, “slow-motion videography is a technology that allows us to extend our senses beyond their natural capacities. It allows the revelation of data hidden in the folds of time, just as a microscope allows us to appreciate the wonders of a fly's wing or a microbe's choreography.”
Eagleman also says that changing the speed of reality makes us pay attention more because it goes against the laws of physics as we know them. “We are constantly getting the temporal predictions wrong, and so we are constantly on alert,” he concludes of regular time passage. Slow-motion is attention-grabbing because it's unexpected. So, if you're in the chair nervously waiting for the artist to load the ink into the tattoo gun, just picture how soothing it is to watch the process in slow-motion.