Tatuaje by Rodolfo JM, Leonardo Aranda, Gabriela Gordillo, et al. is a transmedial novel that experiments with messages, images and maps, and is aimed at a nationally-located production. The narrative happens in Mexico DF, where a private investigator accepts a job that has him searching for Melquíades, a gypsy that works in the historic Sonora Market. In this market, a space traditionally related to magic and esotericism, a story begins that contains references to the Day of the Dead, San La Muerte, and to different places on the map of the Mexican capital in order to find Melquíades. Melquíades is also the name of one of the gypsies that used to visit Macondo, in Gabriel García Marquez’ famous novel Cien años de soledad. With this intertext, Tatuaje situates itself in a Latin American lineage. As the novel progresses, the story keeps confusing reality and dreams that emulate nightmares in 3D.
In this work, identity is presented as plural, showing different traditions such as Judaism, Hinduism, occultism, various aboriginal cultures, etc. The work further uses current technologies to decrypt the identity of the characters browsing the web, sending messages, using tools such as Google Maps, etc. These ways to transmit information may remind some readers of some cases of mail art, pieces that attempt to divert the official message into the networks that encode it. All of these features suggest a multicultural territory and the possibilities that technological development opens, ultimately heading towards the heterogenic and souterrain construction that constitutes (and substitutes) the national Mexican culture.
At the same time, in this transmedial novel we can observe how the technology crosses through the entire life of the investigator: in order to be able to carry out the search it is essential for him—as well as for the reader on the other side of the screen—to have the transmedial tools previously referenced. At the same time, the clandestine professions that have always operated national law—as in the case of Melquíades, a gypsy and a shaman—are significant.
These secret characteristics that precede the construction of the Mexican nation coexist with the latest technology produced during a supranational period, which signals a moment subsequent the idea of "nation." Additionally, Sonora Market is home to illegal practices of shamanism and occultism that have tried to be rationalized through modern methodologies, but have not totally disappeared. In fact, these practices have been preserved in an economic circuit of unlegislated but still legitimated forms of work. Finally, nomadism is characteristic of gypsies or Jewish people that have been exiled time and again, producing historical exoduses that have left marks on the bodies of that population: tattoos, symbologies, hidden languages, footprints.
All these characteristics lead to a common language, located in Mexican territory: “El lenguaje es un virus (que tiene su origen en México) Verás. En este otro monitor llevo las estadísticas de las infecciones que está generando el spam de los sueños. No es preciso, pero aun así sabemos que se ha vuelto viral, ha salido de México” (Jm, Aranda, Gordillo, et al.) (“Language is a virus [that has origin in Mexico]. You'll see. On this other screen, I have the statistics of the infections generated by the dream's spam. It is not exact, but still we know that it has become viral, and has left Mexico” [Our translation]).
Is it possible for the political discourse to be “cured” from the language of multiple identities that live together in Mexico? Is the Mexican nation an attempt to bring together the diversity of technological (futuristic) but iconographic (traditional) codes that the investigator seeks to decipher through a political language? In Tatuaje, we see the feedback loop mechanically reproduced; an occult language—the one of identity dreams—becomes an epidemic, expanding the phenomena precisely through the new technologies that make it possible (GPS, internet, etc.). Thus, the public space appears full of “tattoos” that expand and extend the virus, which can be understood by the readers because they share the alphabetical language, both Mexican and located.