Monday, September 29, 2014

Jingoism Looks Pretty

Sharp Angles

Sometimes I simply can't resist the perfection of a gorgeous dress.

Billboard Words

Friday, September 26, 2014

I Wear Our Differences on my Skin

Fresh of the Boat

I've never been to Southeast Asia, but I have a love for many of the things which came along with it's expatriates - religions, food, clothing, music - and then was filtered through an entirely different culture, commodified and redefined into entirely new forms as all things are eventually transformed by the simple transfer of experiences between people. I have mixed feelings about the power dynamics that I sense in these transfers; even now the scars and legacy of colonialization remain in the assumptions of many people of many cultures, and in how we relate to each other. These questions - what do we share, what do we honor, what do we avoid - remain the leading edge of my thoughts and right now they're a tangle of living wickerwork as knotted as any climbing plant. A few flowers of certainty stand out - avoiding things which are of particular sacredness in another culture, for example - but they are few and far between on the vines. Some things seem obvious, though; as near as I can tell, the sari and the patterns of India are joyfully shared; henna seems to be shared but not all of the patterns, as some are sacred; I have mixed feelings about the bindi, though I'm wearing a gorgeous one in these pictures - it seems woven more tightly into the identity of thousands of women who are not me.  Most of what I have are edges I'm feeling my way along, though, and I don't feel like I'm alone in this at all.

Lots of luggage

One of the joys of blogging an event is being handed piles of things and then seeing what one can make out of them! Genre has everything, even this wonderful woven hairstyle from Alli and Ali, which has a gorgeous, glistening texture under this windlight. It's editable, which meant I could scale it down a little to fit smoothly behind my ears, and I love the tumble of curls on the top which makes this classier than a simple chignon. I accented it with two additions. Firstly, there is this lovely diadem from Distorted Dreams, pairing lotus shapes and delicate chain that goes across the brow and back into the hair. One lovely touch are the little dangling charms next to each temple; I can almost imagine them ringing if there were bells on them. Secondly is this delicate jeweled bindi from Lumae, one of four different styles she's offering in a ton of colors. This was my favorite of the four, the large center jewel accented beautifully with smaller ones and a bit of dangle. I left cosmetics out of it entirely, choosing instead to focus on this gorgeous henna collar from Jalwa. It comes in three shades and on multiple layers with a HUD for Physique included as well. The shape is fantastic, and ornate without being formal.

Flowers and Sea

I paired the henna collar with hand henna from #adored, which is a SLink applier; I've actually been wearing this for several days - it's subtle and lovely, and comes with a variety of darknesses if you want to mimic different levels of saturation. Adding some weight to my arms are an enormous set of bangles from Anachron, which come in a variety of bright colors so they can be matched with any outfit. I love the balance between color and metal, with a few large jewels and a couple thin bands with enameled hearts. The different textures and offset rings adds some verisimilitude as well, making it seem like I threw on several handfuls of bracelets on my way out the door. Finally, the largest piece is this gorgeous gown from Artizana. Like my bangles, the gown offers layers of color and style with a shimmer of metal on top. I love both the texture, which reminds me of several sari's I own, and the shape; one gift that mesh has given us is spaghetti straps, and this gown not only takes full advantaged, but it adds a delicate string bow in the back which really made me smile when I saw it. This is a well rigged gown which adapted to a variety of poses as I went while keeping its style and shape largely intact. Look at the curve above the shoes in particular, and see how the ripples curve without becoming overly distorted.

A Momentary Down


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Angel in the Basilica

So Close...

I went to the Basilique's last production of Paradise Lost last Sunday, and while I snapped a great deal of pictures I tossed most of them as thoroughly unappealing and I'll link to their Flickr instead if you want to see much better framed and rezzed images of that rather iconic production. One aspect I found both charming and enlightening, though, and which made me wish I could pass the "angel" avatar on to my alts and frame out some other images, comparing the different shapes it can become because it is rigged to the body. I found being among many identical and yet not others completely fascinating, and was sadly unable to enjoy it as fully as I might have otherwise - perhaps I'll be able to frame out something using my main account but the shapes from my myriad alts. In any case, having been handed this iconic form, I simply couldn't resist looking for a dress which would fit her and seeing how it altered the experience from the "nude" basic. This was hampered by the inability to apply any invis layers, but the passel of demos I'd picked up from Penumbra Fashion Week were a true boon, and one of them suited beautifully.

Dance through the Past

Wicca's Wardrobe made a gorgeous full ballgown with a high collar and full body which easily covered my narrow white body. It looks like a very solid black from a distance, but up close you can catch the delicate textures layered on over the darkness - an appropriate metaphor, I felt. It's dual skirted, meaning the top skirt might be found in other looks, but it's nature materially alters when layered over the long, mermaid-style ankle length skirt. My favorite part is the combination of sleevelessness with the huge, well-rigged collar, though. The line mimics the combination of poofy and spare set by the skirt and it left easy room for me to show off double layers of my Izzie's bracelets, where a copy was resized to be armlets. This is part of why I adore editable jewelry; the entire look lost some of it's effect with long, bare arms and the touch of black and white on the bicep cut the line perfectly. These are color changing in the gem, but I stuck with white to continue the general shaded theme. The only other addition to my look is an old, but still loved, hairstyle from Analog Dog. I adore the banding of black through the curls, and gleefully made the golden-blond bob my sole touch of color in the entire ensemble. None of this would be possible without the amazing avatar created by Sion Pearl, however - I love it's true androgyny, it's bare face, and the stubborn arc of its wings which fit so beautifully either dressed or not. The specific angelic avatar was a Paradise Lost exclusive, but you can get a very similar effect at Chariot with the Polly Lo avatar which comes in a number of colors and also serves as a low-lag avatar for events. On me, avatars are invariable "her", but there are a wide variety of other possibilities out there.

Overwhelm


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fit for a Princess: The Dragon's Gate

Image Description: A woman in a mix between a kimono and a miniskirt stand son a pier with fans in her hands.

In my search for a place for pictures of this modified, Japanese-style princess, I stumbled across a rather fun hunt / game, with an interactive component and a battle at the end (which I utterly failed to figure out) called Shadow House 3. The hunt starts on Virtual Ryukyu, and costs 10$L. It's charming, and funny, and takes you through a number of lovely vistas and buildings, with a veritable slew of prizes along the way. I highly recommend doing it for the fun story, at the very least; it runs through the end of October. If you want to dress in style to match - this lovely, miniskirt-kimono is at Fit for a Princess, and is from Greymoon. There are seven total colors, all of them fairly muted and reminiscent of autumn, with one brilliant splash of scarlet as memorial for the dying leaves. The sleeves and collar in particular are excellent - moving well around the edges and with good elbows. I also quite liked the bust line, the first break from a traditional kimono shape, which is followed up by a narrow waist and beautiful obi. The bow in the back of the obi is wonderful as well, small but well-shaped. The skirt is a true mini as well - even showing a little belly and cutting in close to the legs. The final fun addition to the silhouette is a train, which is rigged closely to the legs; it cuts a little close in some poses, but it's so fun I don't mind working around that at all.

Image Description: Legs, cut off just above the knee, walk across a reflective surface in orange heels.

My bright orange shoes are also from Fit for a Princess - a variation on one I showed before from Stargazer Creations, only this time without the flower accessory attached. Up close, you can see the delicate detailing of the front strap. I also love how slim it is - a narrow shape that stands as elegant support for all sorts of outfits. The last Princess-like aspect of my look is my poses - three poses with accompanying fans from Uncertain Smile. I adore the included fans, sweet and simple, with a cherry blossom motif. The poses are also quite unique, various flashes of face behind the fans a delight, and they would work with most small, hand-held fans. To finish the look I had to step out from under the Fit for a Princess parasol, though. First, my hair is a very old release from Asset which has lingered in my blogger folder waiting for the perfect outfit - and I think it adds a severe edge which fits the modern lines of a mini kimono. It's a very full queue style with bits of loose hair here and there, adding verisimilitude. Although I believe this is traditionally a men's style, I thought with the number of traditions I was bucking with this particular look, that gender-bending wasn't really beyond the pale. Finally, my earrings are from Lassitude & Ennui, and are being released at the Jewelry Faire and will be available there through this Sunday, the 28th. They are a layered, angel-wing style earring with enough simplicity that they work with any number of styles, and are available in several colors including this rather cunning black. Definitely make your way there and check out their other offerings as well!

Image Description: A woman in a black, brown, and orange kimono mini dress stands in front of sand and a piece of driftwood, holding to fans.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Meme: Death

Image Description: White silhouettes on a black background of a broken tower and a winged figure in the sky.
It's Berry's Birthday, and with her birth her thoughts turned to death - one of the other big transitions in our lives. One if the fascinating things about Second Life is the obsession with the first - have you seen the baby bumps on the grid? - and the near absence of the other - when people leave they don't die, as such, and memorials are existent but rare and anything but permanent. Death and the internet is interesting as well because just because someone dies doesn't mean they vanish - we can automate a lot, including continued activities after death. At the same time, the internet and Second Life itself are both littered with the remnants of the past - at once both ineffable and perfectly what they were at the moment of creation.
  1. Do you ever think about dying? How do you expect you’ll die? – I think about dying now and then, though not to the extent I did when I was a teenager, and now I'd rather not. I was suicidal for much of my teens, from about fifth grade to tenth, and I had a serious case of survivor's guilt in my early twenties after a friend died in a car accident. I never attempted - not even a serious gesture - but I thought a lot about how nice it would be if I'd just stop taking up extra oxygen other people could use. It's been several years since I've felt that way, but it gave me an insider's view of depression that has proven invaluable in my work. I'm also much more comfortable with death, having gone through the grieving process in depth.

  2. Do you believe in an afterlife? If so, how do you visualize it? - I believe in the nine worlds of the universe, that there are places of bliss and places of torment, and that people can cycle through multiple times. When I try to access the other worlds, I usually start in the roots of Yggdrasil - the world tree - and climb from there. So far my skills are middling.

  3. What is your preferred form of apocalypse and why? – I would love a time when people learn to value kindness over cruelty so that we can all come together, understand, and love each other - and that people can all be supported in being the best versions of themselves possible.

  4. How many times have you cheated death so far? – I was in a car accident that killed one of the four people in the car.

  5. Which fictional villain would you be okay being killed by? – I've always thought it would be interesting if I became a vampire, since I don't think it suits me at all - that makes it my shadow, in a way.

  6. If you’re murdered, do you stay and haunt the culprits forever or do you give up that opportunity to leave and go to heaven/hell/Cancun? –I'd want justice, whatever that would mean, and then I'd like to come back again. I love the world, with all it's pains and pleasures.

  7. Will you have done everything you have wanted by the time you die? – I don't think that's physically possible. I hope I've lived a good life, though, and will leave the world better than I found it.
Image Description: Woman sitting with her back to the camera, staring at a cave made of wicker highlighted against the sky.

( More pictures here. )

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chiaroscuro

Image Description: Woman lit up in the darkness in front of a dimly lit tree.

It's been a little over a week and I feel like I'm finally settling again - though my apartment has become the usual weekly mess. I feel like I'm settling into blogging again, too, after several deliberate and inadvertent gaps. There is something about refocusing on tasks left undone that is like things coming into the light from darkness - like one of my favorite things in art, chiaroscuro. I made my attempt at it again this time, using projectors and a no light setting in Second Life, and while I still think there are some kinks that need to be worked out in how I'm using the light in world, I'm overall very happy with how they turned out - and I have a lot to do to make my projectors more useful in the world.

Image Description: Woman's back, wearing a long black dress with patches of skin showing at the waist and upper back, looking up at floating paper lanterns.

Part of what inspired this second attempt (the first is here, pre-projectors) attempt at chiaroscuro was this amazing dress from Purple Moon Creations, which has a unique shape and uses materials in order to amp up the shine.It catches the light beautifully, shifting the match any hue provided, and the shapes and enormous jewelry are incredibly striking. I paired it with a Ploom hair I've been wanting to show off for a while. As a long style - well past the waist - it requires a slim-cut dress and something dramatic enough to stand up to it's enormous waves, and together they are simply stunning. The large, unusual shapes cradle the large waves, and I love Ploom's ombre offerings - in this case a blond to black fade which emphasized the shadows. Due to the sheer drama of these two pieces together, I kept additional accessories very light - webby wings from Deviance which are my go-to- wings for anything Unseelie, a mask I just picked up from the Seelie Faire, a mesh leaf confections from Chimeric Fashions, and bright red lips courtesy of Madrid Solo.

Image Description: Woman in long dress, lit from shadow in front of a dim sculpture of a woman.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Penumbra

Image Description: Woman in a green, purple, and black dress standing in front of a fountain.

Every now and then I take a left turn in Second Life and am reminded of a place I knew nothing about - in this case the Penumbra Fashion Week, part of a vast and sprawling empire of modeling, pageants, and fashion shows which dot the grid. It seems like usually a modelling school will have associated pageants and events which draw clothing stores and bring them both publicity and sales. In this case, there appear to be a few different events and a sales area out front, with models taking pictures and publishing them on FLickr. The clothing adheres available adheres much more closely to offline fashions, and the outre end of that, replete with odd pleats, puffy bits, and layers where one wouldn't expect them. It's also strikingly difficult to find a landmark to the sim, though I was able to find information about a number of events at their website, in addition to some stills from fashion walks. The vast number of models in Second Life are eight heads tall or more, a sliver of the population offline but readily available with a judicious use of sliders. I find the whole phenomena of fashion shows in a virtual environment completely fascinating, though it's but rarely that I find myself intersecting with it.

Image Description: Close up of feet wearing pale green espadrilles in shadow.

The interesting thing is that unlike offline - where the clothing wouldn't be available to the average person, both because it's shaped for a stark minority of body types and due to cost - here anyone with a few Linden can pick things up, and most of them will modify themselves easily for my much shorter, much rounder form. My Second Life shape is equally unusual, being a nearly perfect hourglass, but it's a different unusual shape from the tall and thin model ideal, and a different size again from the wide hipped set which is also inspired by modelling, but by the alternative, thigh gap standard of thinness. Second Life is a sort of perfect place to express physical cultural values, and so it's unsurprising that paleness, smooth hair, thinness, and various markers of class or money predominate. Unlike offline they are in the majority, however, which shifts the balance of power and leads people to seek social clout in a wide variety of ways rendered all the more transparent by how malleable they are. One of these is the Fashion Show, using the right gestures at the right times, having the right shape and accessories, and typing out the appropriate language to combine humility and gratitude to impress the judges. Another is the Blog, typing out words of analysis and snapping pictures, hoping people will pay attention.

Image Description: Torso shot of a woman in a green, purple, and black dress with her hands up. Devil and Angel Monsters are on either side of her head.

Friday, September 19, 2014

MadPea Hunt: Green Mire II - Journalist Track Guide

Image Description: A drunken man sitting in a chair and a woman in a red jacket stand on a stage over the word 'Start'.

MadPea has finally come out with the second installment of the Green Mire Mystery; the mini-quest (walkthrough) which tells you all about the disappearance of the two boys is still going on. Like their previous hunts, there is a distinct and very enjoyable storyline which goes along with the hunt - always my favorite part. Unlike previous hunts, this one has two tracks: one where you follow the skeptical Drunk Journalist, and the other where you follow the enthusiastic believer Kiki. Each track is 100$L, which is a steal for as much fun is waiting for you. Pay their figures on the Green Mile Stage, and either pick a side or try everything to see what happens. The Journalist Prizes are on their website, if that will help sway you, and you can dress up as a journalist for just 150$L more.

As with previous Guides, my commentary will be in italics and will include additional hints if I feel they are needed, and I usually reply to comments within a day or two if you get stuck. You can also ask for help in the MadPea group, but don't be surprised if people IM you with hints, as they aren't allowed in open chat.  

Having done both paths, I recommend you start with the Believer and take the Journalist track second and so I'm publishing these walkthroughs in that order.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

MadPea Hunt: Green Mire II - Believer Track Guide

Image Description: A man in a chair and a standing woman on a stage with 'Start Here' in big letters under them.

MadPea has finally come out with the second installment of the Green Mire Mystery; the mini-quest (walkthrough) which tells you all about the disappearance of the two boys is still going on. Like their previous hunts, there is a distinct and very enjoyable storyline which goes along with the hunt - always my favorite part. Unlike previous hunts, this one has two tracks: one where you follow the enthusiastic believer Kiki, and the other where you follow the skeptical Drunk Journalist. Each track is 100$L, which is a steal; so much fun is waiting for you. Pay their figures on the Green Mile Stage, and either pick a side or try everything to see what happens. The Believer Prizes are on their website, if that will help sway you, and you can dress up as a believer for just 150$L more.

As with previous Guides, my commentary will be in italics and will include additional hints if I feel they are needed, and I usually reply to comments within a day or two if you get stuck. You can also ask for help in the MadPea group, but don't be surprised if people IM you with hints, as they aren't allowed in open chat.

Having done both paths, I recommend you start with the Believer and take the Journalist track second and so I'm publishing these walkthroughs in that order.  

Presented Without Comment

A Soft Breeze

Some days, the best thing to be said is that they ended.

Modelling