Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Color Challenge: Week Twelve - Taupe

Week twelve of Luna Jubilee's color challenge was a total challenge. I am seriously not a brown or neutrals kind of person, and I wasn't sure I owned any taupe.

Yay for inventory search! I turned up some taupe from Sn@tch, and some really old shoes from Sweeter Than Candy (I don't think she actually sells them anymore). I ended up with a kind of beachy outfit with spots of darkness. It shows a bit of belly, but tastefully so I think. I like the swirl of the skirt, and balanced the black of the top with black stockings and black water both.

When looking for a place to pose, I ended up on the taupish beaches of Whimsy, the home of Chey and her sweetie, which I'd read about for ages but never actually gone to (and even this time I didn't really explore. I ended up lurking around the sands, snatching some beachy piratey pictures, and then bouncing back to my lucky board stalking). I particularly liked the pirate map. Perhaps someday when I'm feeling wandery, I will settle in and explore - or maybe I might bring friends!

It's seems a charming place, but I suppose I'm feeling a little flat and neutral today - not much energy for raptures about the world. And since Whimsy seems like a perfect place to be enthusiastic, I want to save it for an enthusiastic day.


(More pictures here.)


Skin: Curio, Petal [Dark] April - Rainbow 1
Eyes: Tacky Star, Pride
Ears: Illusions, Mystic Ear - Fairy (tarnished)
Hair: Magika, Dorothy - Blonde: Sand
Wings: Fancy Fairy, Azarelle - tinted taupe
Shirt: Sn@tch, Omega Polka Dot Top - Taupe
Skirt: Sn@tch, Traumatic Skirt - Taupe (fishing prize)
Shoes: Sweeter Than Candy, Patent Taupe
Stockings: Sn@tch, Goth Socks - Black

Pose: snOok, omg sexy lay

Location: Whimsy
Light Settings: [TOR] SCIFI Conciergist - lighting messed with some
Water Settings: [TOR] Eyeballin' - fog color tinted magenta

Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping only

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Next Big Thing Hunt: De La Soul Prizes

I usually absolutely suck at blogging something that I got during a hunt while the hunt is still on.

I made an exception.

In the interest of full disclosure, the creator of De La Soul is a personal friend and I think he is awesome. That does not, however, preclude me from thinking his hunt prize skins, a horrible taunting tease of his soon-to-be-skin-line Charlie, are fantastic and he is horrible, and teasing, because he's been giving me hints at the makeups for ages and I am squirming and wanting so much. You have NO IDEA. Waaaant. These are the free tease he set out to make me cry like a little girl.

( You can't see in these pictures, because unlike some people I wear underwear, but there are cute little butt dimples in the back. )

His skin tones range from a dark cocoa to a vampiric pale milk. I'm a cream girl, myself, but I have to admit the richness of his cocoa skin has me rethinking my preferences.

TNBTH - Charlie Cocoa

TNBTH - Charlie Tal Lt

TNBTH - Charlie Frappe

TNBTH - Charlie Cafe

TNBTH - Charlie Biscotti

TNBTH - Charlie Cream

TNBTH - Charlie Milk

The Next Big Thing Hunt is still going on, and you're looking for a lightbulb. There is a hint on his blog, and to get to the store go here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Color Challenge: Week Eleven - Indigo

I ended up indulging in Bryn Oh's display again for the Indigo Color Challenge, Standby, which has temporarily been put up by IBM. It is an astonishing work of art, plaintively evocative, and reminds me so clearly of a three dimensional comic with a tragic ending.

And ending I couldn't stop.


There's a painful inevitability to the final chapter of Oh's exhibit, and one which is somehow made all the worse by how we, as individuals can insinuate ourselves into the flow of the images, and yet do nothing to alter it's inexorable course.

I cried every time I went through the exhibit. I grew teary just editing the image of Daughter of Gears and Rabbicorn curled together, seeking whiteness as their last resort, their only possible happiness.

It makes my heart ache that this is their only happiness - that the fraction of time spent in the park ends so immediately and disastrously.

It seems unfair, and somehow wrong. Each time I go through, there is the desire in me to protect both, to somehow make them a world where they can be happy and alive both.


( More pictures here. Bryn's blog post on the final chapter here. )


Skin: De La Soul, Charlie - Cream w/Violet Stripe
Eyes: Tacky Star, Pride
Ears: Illusions, Mystic Ear - Fairy (tarnished)
Hair: Ploom, Dot - Indigo
Wings: Fancy Fairy, Azarelle - tinted indigo
Shirt: G Field, Floral Halter Top - purple (matches hair)
Skirt: LeeZul, Mia Corset Skirt - indigo
Boots: Favole, The Nightmare
Armlet: G Field, Metal Rose Armlet (L) purple - tinted indigo
Ring: Little Boy Blue, Pleiades ring

Pose: Striking Poses, Brigitte Bardot 1

Location: Standby (temporary art exhibit)
Light Settings: [TOR] MIDDAY - Beachin' - tinted very indigo
Water Settings: [TOR] Maldives (tinted indigo)

Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping only

Friday, January 21, 2011


Botgirl had a recent brief blogpost about Flickr Streams which made me bristle. It made me bristle because it, in all honesty, applied to me. My flickr is, barring some group shots, almost entirely comprised of me in some sort of outfit in a place in Second Life.

The combination of the title: "Gracie Kendal 1000 Avatar Project as the Antithesis of Avatar Photo Narcissism" and "I see it as the antidote for the type of virtual identity narcissism that's reflected in many avatar photostreams on Flickr." easily combine to castigate those of us who focus on self-reflection in Flickr, which the implication that ones Flickr Stream serves as commentary on One's Intrinsic Nature.

And One's Intrinsic Nature is Narcissistic. And Narcissistic is bad.


It's interesting that the term used, and the Myth called up, is that of Narcissus - who was male and who literally did nothing but look at his reflections, thus wasting away to nothing (a similar obsessiveness is shown in Echo, who followed Narcissus everywhere and wasted away repeating only what he said - I leave the details of gender analysis of Obsession in this Myth as an exercise for the reader).

In this context, it's interesting to note that, as far as I know, the vast majority of people snapping pictures of themselves on Flickr are, like myself, female. In other words - we're supposed to be Echo in the Myth, not Narcissus; obsessed with the other, not with the self.

It's also interesting that this is said in the context of a blog about someone examining who they are if they were a female virtual avatar, without an offline representation, which has since become a fascinating exercise in recursion applied to recursion - meta of the meta of identity where identity is experienced reflective in both the self and others.

This clearly is a case of the textual-and-comic self-reflector calling the image self-reflector a narcissist.

Or, at least, that's the snippy response in line with "I'm rubber, you're glue" and "your mom."

Up and Out

While I was ruminating on this, I had a very pleasant person respond to my first Color Challenge Flickr set asking why it was so dark, and kindly letting me know I could alter the scene gamma, if I wanted, to make my pictures lighter. As the picture above shows, there is very little contrast in most of those pictures, and where there is contrast it tends to not be on the face, which is where people focus, but on other features. In "Up and Out" above, I was primarily interested in the light reflected on the hair (which is very unlike my usual style), the curve of the upward lifted arm down to the breast, and the calf. I used wearable light sources tinted gray and black to achieve the quality of light, and it took me rather a while. Indeed, I lost a few pictures because the area I was photographing myself in fell apart (The Spencer Museum of Art is an automated, moving sim) while I was trying to get the lighting right.

So place yourself where I was. On the one hand, accused of being a Narcissist; on the other hand instructed on how to make my avatar show up better in my pictures.

Northern Light Intoxication

Women get accused of being vain a lot. It's one of those "let me regurgitate hundreds of years of stereotypes to show how edgy I am" comedian schticks, usually cast in the light of "women take HOURS to get ready" and "all those shoes - who needs them? I have one pair that I bought ten years ago!" Women's obsession with appearance is treated both as comic and as universal.

Women are usually referenced in conjunction with their appearance, from Republicans claiming they were better because their women were hotter to female programmers being rated on their hotness as soon as a picture surfaces. Across the internet, women's photographs are often requested as soon as they assert their gender, and a common way of dismissing the points of women in debate is to dismiss her appearance, even if there's no way of knowing what she looks like. A website of male lawyers stalked and photographed female lawyers and rated them, all without the consent of the women being photographed.

The importance of a woman's appearance to determine her worth is a frequent assumption and topic of conversation, both in terms of actually rating women by their appearance instead of any skill or ability we might have, to insulting women because women spend time and money on our appearance. In this context, both complements and insults perpetuate the sexism - focusing on the appearance of a politician or programmer instead of her abilities as a politician or programmer, even if the language is "Wow, she's hot; I'd so do her." is inherently insulting because it takes a multifaceted person and flattens her to an object who can't even refuse your sexual advances.

Starry Rest

So with this context in mind - "women are obsessed with their appearance and this is a bad thing, but women who don't conform to narrow dictates of appearance are not worthy of being seen/heard" - lets return to Botgirl's original statement, summed up in: "I see it as the antidote for the type of virtual identity narcissism that's reflected in many avatar photostreams on Flickr."

In the original Myth about Obsession, there are prescribed gender roles - men are obsessed with themselves and women are obsessed with men. A female narcissist flies in the face of the Myth itself, and the unspoken assumption that women should not be seen to be focusing on our appearance. The very act of a woman focusing on her appearance, and on variations of it, is inherently threatening to the Myth of Obsession with Prescribed Gender Roles (with this in mind, consider how often men are given a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and women are given a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder).

The antidote Botgirl prescribed to this narcissism is a project (which seems lovely) of a thousand+ avatars photographed on a plain gray background, thus placing the individuality of one avatar into the context of many avatars. In other words, the antidote is removing the focus from the self through an exploration of identity through clothing, background, and poses and putting the self into the context of it's relationship with other people.

In other words, women - stop looking at yourself; look at everyone else like you're supposed to. Why do you need all those pictures/shoes/clothes/cosmetics, anyway? Ah, women; they're from a hot, gaseous planet and not understandable to we Real People.


I do think an exploration of what purpose extended flickr streams of images of a person serves, especially in terms of Art and Identity - but if the context of the exploration is that Self-Reflection can only be Narcissistic, then we've lost any chance of anything worthwhile before we've even begun.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Color Challenge: Week Ten - Sienna

While looking for places to photograph Sienna Week I realized how much of what can be done is Second Life is like being a tourist in a foreign country, only without a reliable atlas or guide.

You wander about a strange place, occasionally getting tips from people or finding a blog to point you in a way. Sometimes you stumble onto a place you adore, linger a while, then when you go back a few months later it's gone. More often you walk through streams of places meant for purposes other than looking at them - stores, or gathering places, or even just residential areas with no rhyme or reason to them. Second Life is a world that exists beyond Home Owners Associations, except on private land.


And some places you stop to snap a picture.

A lot of places are styled after offline places, or offline times - like Steampunk. I discovered Steeltopia when I did a search for Steampunk, my outfit being enough in that style to make the combination sensible. I had thought about going to the Babbage sims, which are renowned for their Steampunk Style and sprawl across several sims, but I wanted something a bit more unusual and out of the way.

The reason for making things like offline things, even though the world within Second Life can be so different, is a matter of both ease and a necessary frame of reference. We know how to exist in a world with gravity, we know what a store looks like, what a mall looks like, how to talk in a garden, and how to find romance in a club or a bar. A world without those meanings and without those references might seem astonishingly, even off-puttingly alien - like being in a foreign country for too long where one doesn't speak the language.

I read on a number of blogs about how the very normality of Second Life is a sadness, that it shows a lamentable lack of imagination and creativity. I think it might be a reference to how far we can step outside of the rules of the world we live in and how we organize the world around us. A few steps, an exploratory dash, is a wonderful thing and fills us with a rush, but go to far without points of reference and it can become unsettling, even terrifying.

We make the world within Second Life, but it is a world within which we must still exist. Perhaps that, more than a lack of creativity, is an answer to why we remake a world so like our own.

(More pictures here.)


Skin: MiaSnow, Rainbow Tan 4
Eyes: Tacky Star, Pride
Ears: Illusions, Mystic Ear - Fairy
Hair: Calico Ingmann, Suzume - Golden
Wings: Fancy Fairy, Azarelle - tinted Sienna
Shirt: Blue Blood, Combo of Fluture and Astrid Whitegoth
Vest and Skirt: Silent Sparrow, Lysi
Shoes: G Field, Bow Strap Shoes "Kate" - white

Pose: Leafy, Say Cheese

Location: Steeltopia
Light Settings: Nam's Robots of Dawn
Water Settings: [TOR] Atomist

Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping only

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Color Challenge: Week Nine - Silver

Silver Week has arrived, and with it, the new year.

On the Edge

For the last several months, I've been circling around an old thought cascade of mine, brought up by several interactions with people on SL. Offline, the issue of being "sexy" or performative femininity (femininity that is treated as a role with rules, like 'must wear pink' or 'must show breasts' rather than an organic expression of one's internal gender-specific feelings and desires) doesn't really come up for me, outside of the usual thin-scantily-clad-females=sex and those sorts of institutionalized sexism. My offline friends, though, don't much care, don't demand certain behaviors or dress from me, etc.. etc... and I gave up on being perceived as sexy offline a long time ago.

And on Second Life, until very recently, it didn't come up much, though it did come up. I began my tour in second life seeking out philosophy discussion and philosophical groups, which I combined with dressing up like a faerie in pretty dresses. I was usually one of the more extravagantly dressed in the discussion.

This would be the first place I ran into performative femininity with the presumed goal of it - landing a male companion - but only once, when one of the discussion holders insisted that I dressed as I did, and changed my clothing regularly, purely for the goal of garnering male attention. That I could want to change my clothing regularly and wear, what I will egotistically call attractive outfits simply because I found them beautiful, and I enjoyed making beautiful things including my own avatar was so outside of his conception of women that he literally could not understand it even when I explained it to him multiple times in multiple ways. When he finally understood what I was saying, he insisted I must be lying and that he knew better than I what I wanted, which was a boyfriend on Second Life.

This is a type of asshole most often found in the male intellectual variety, whose intellect is such (read: "whose intellect sucks") that they have experienced everything and thus when you disagree with them, even based on your own experiences, you simply must be wrong.

Little Details

Over time, I've gotten less interested in the "philosophical" discussions, especially those which seem enormously repetitive to me (after the fourth time of atheists debating why religion-which-is-amazingly-close-to-the-type-of-Christianity-they-hate-most sucks, the bloom was off of the rose). I moved more toward hunting, and freebie finding, and those tend to be largely solitary. The closest I got to a community for a while was Falln Angel Creations chat, still one of my favorite chats in Second Life.

And then I stepped into roleplaying, which is a dual layered community. You have the Out Of Character Community, and the In Character Community, and while they overlap they can be different. They influence each other, in ways which both add too and detract from the roleplay.

And I ran into performative femininity again, only this time explicitly about my desirability for romantic relationships based on how I dressed. I've been surprised at my response to it, how ingrained this idea is; that my value as a person is dependent upon J Random person finding me sexually desirable. And also at the implied relationship and roles - that I am not to desire but rather to be desirable; that I am not to look, even at myself, but rather to be looked at and wait for the opinions of others to determine my worth.

...Must Come Down

A lot of Second Life is based around relationships and sex; much of the clothing is very scanty, a lot of the activities are ones centered on romantic relationships, and within roleplay it continues to astonish me the number of people who consider any relationship other than a sexual or romantic one either entirely unimportant, or a means to getting a relationship of that sort. These sorts of exchanges aren't always based on performative gender roles, but they often are.

I've largely managed to avoid having to play along with the rules, but not without some bumps - for example the guy who assumed that because I danced with him for fifteen minutes I would be his "SL girlfriend" since his "RL girlfriend" wasn't around and gods forbid he exist without a girlfriend in a given medium. This tangle of experiences around gender was all brought up again, though, through interactions with people who assume things based on my gender and general disposition and then are shocked when they aren't true.

And I keep circling this, trying to figure out why it bothers me...

( More pictures here. )


Skin: Doux Petit, Sade Rainbow - Tone 2
Eyes: Tacky Star, Pride
Ears: Illusions, Mystic Ear - Fairy
Hair: Tea Lane, Crys - silver
Wings: Fancy Fairy, Goblin Wings - murky
Dress: Kuri Style, One Piece 145 St. Valentine (B)
Sweater: katat0nik, Strawberry Dream Sweater - Silver
Jewelry: G Field, Pearl Bracelets and CHocker "Blossom" white (fullbright removed)
Stockings: Kosh, Checker Socks - Grey
Shoes: G Field, Ribbon Slingback Shoes - Silver

1) Alchemy Immortalis, French Boudoir 1910 Stand 10
2) PDA, [NH] About a Boy
3) Long Awkward Pose, Fantasy-Faepose11

Location: Immersiva
Light Settings: [TOR] SUNRISE - Teaching
Water Settings: [TOR] Impure

Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping only