|Gang at Dark Moon Cafe|
Today was the first of a series of small events I am holding at the Dark Moon Cafe. Basically, they are two dimensional, themed art shows accompanied by a discussion. These small gatherings will feature one artist showing themed work to talk about, on every other Sunday at 10 am PST or SLT. Next one will be February 13th. Theoretical Afterthought was our first presenter. Theo's series of self portraits documents her avatar evolution here in SL, and her biting wit!
|Zola Zsun & Ashe Haight|
|Einy & Widget|
The group attending was small enough (eight all together) to really discuss the work. Zola Zsun had introduced me to Theo. Of course Zola was here and chatty fun as usual. Zola also brought up the fact that unless a real life photo is doctored in some way, say in photoshop, you get what you see, whereas in Second Life, one can also build what you want in the frame. Of course this does not negate exporting pics to another program, using the same process. Einy Marksman was interested in Theo's process. Einy is a photographer himself, and has very nice shows here in Second Life and real life (that is a hint, Einy). Fenix came as a mermaid, as the theme was the construction of an avatar. Widget Whiteberry, who organizes Virtually Speaking, was there (check below for the SLurl to the amphitheater of Virtually Speaking). Widget said that her avatar prompted her to lose weight in real life; which was interesting because my real life body has prompted Neph gain weight! This has had an interesting effect on me too. I feel better!
Why would I feel better? Well, I was sick of looking at how skinny Neph's butt was! We all know that most of the women in Second Life tend to be skinny with big breasts! How do these so called "perfect" bodies reflect us? How do they make us feel in real life and Second Life? Of course this makes me think of the objectification of women in general, the pressure to be thin, yet somehow retain large breasts. Well, one of Theo's self portraits depicts her with several feet for breasts! The title is "Don't Look at My Feet!" To me this is a comment on the random, yet systematic sexualization of female body parts. Of course, Fenix Muhindra, who is a teacher, as well as a counselor, wondered how foot fetishists would react to the photograph. I say some research is afoot!
|The Lovely Fenix as a Mermaid|
|Sapphoria looking GOOD!|
|Theo on her work and other things|
But here is what Theo says about her work. Here is a copy of the notecard of her thoughts about the show that she gave me to hand the guests:
"Some say that the imagination seems to be the limit within SL, but I disagree with that statement. Without the proper skills and tools at our disposition, we are unable to convey that which we intend. That is why I see my own avatar as a work in process, a never ending journey into what I could be, but am not as of yet.
What I have before you is but a glimpse of many attempts at assigning anthropomorphic qualities to a set of pixels. I cannot recall how many incarnations I have had over the past two years as an avatar, but I can say that I have not remained in any one shape or skin for extended periods of time. Early on in my forays into SL, I discovered that I could change my shape at will, and I have never stopped experimenting with that aspect since. Even as a completely free avatar, one without an account on record, I still managed to find suitable resources to enable to me have variability in every other form, be it skin, hair, clothes, or other artifacts that I could pile on my avi. The capability for transformation led to a need for the development of a visual diary and that is how I became a screenshot capturer and consequently a creator within SL.
Yet with all the changes available to me, I still find a very strong identification with my multiple pixel selves. I have created the whole of those avatars through the compilation of multiple elements and thus they all represent me in virtual form. As a short anecdote, let me relate the strength of identification through a reference within the visual social network Flickr. I recently purchased, after two years, my first animation overrider (AO) within SL. Someone captured the likeness of my avatar in a hyper sexualized position enabled by said AO and by an invasive camera angle that I found distasteful. I am a creator, a vendor, a weaver of dreams for others; what I am not is a trophy, a sex toy, nor represent a person to be commodified. Were it not for a strong identification with my avatar, I would not have objected. The image was quietly removed, but I suspect not without some form of surprise to the noob who had posted it. All ended well, he was very apologetic, and I reverted to my hermit life.
Still, as I come into yet untapped resources, I cannot help but wonder what the coupling of imagination and tools will yield for the evolution of avatars."
~ Theoretical Afterthought
Be sure to see Theo's Flickr stream at:
Virtually Speaking Amphitheater: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Virtually%20Speaking/125/124/25
Or you can listen to the show from anywhere LIVE: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking
Zanphoria Gallery: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Lionheart%20Vitani/238/114/32
And be sure to check events for Sunday morning discussions at Dark Moon Cafe. Here is the SLurl:
OH! Stop by anytime!