Odalisque

OdalisqueIn the last few days, two different artist friends independantly sent me landmarks to Odalisque, with IMs of the “you HAVE TO see this” kind. And this is my landmark to you: you have to see this. Ideally you should see it before you read the rest of this, ’cause I’m going to talk about it; but in fact the visual (the visceral) effect of the piece is strong enough that whatever my words of mine you might have read beforehand probably won’t make much difference.

I happened to arrive (much too late last night) while Calli Christensen and some other friends were also there. Calli said something very true.

listening to people here is interesting

Seeing the piece alone would be a powerful experience. Seeing the piece with other folks there, being touched by it in their various ways, and saying or not saying their various things, adds a whole ‘nother layer.

She’s gorgeous!

That was me. :) I love bodies, atoms, concreteness, earthiness. And the woman in this piece embodies all of those things, real and unretouched, not airbrushed or edited or decorated, just there, relaxed, maybe sleeping, being reality itself. There’s this great little crescent-shaped mark just under her right knee, an benign indentation from the world.

Other people said similar things. “She is beautiful,” “she is real,” “beautiful and brave,” “I love her,” “she is very beautiful and sexy”.

i see enough fat c–t working at the supermarket
nice sculpt, but why couldn’t it be slim chick

These two gems from the same person in the crowd, a woman. (I’m actually fond of the c-word that I’ve censored there, but not when it’s used like this.) A couple of people opined that she must be a (rude) young man in RL, but she and a friend responded that she was female in RL, and would be glad to prove it in voice.

That anyone would divide women into “fat c–t” (bad) and “slim chick” (good), is pretty sad. That a woman would do that is even sadder. I wonder if she is someone young and pretty enough that she’s never had to think about just how legitimate magazine-cover standards are, or if on the other hand she’s internalized those standards enough that she feels fatally imperfect herself, and doesn’t like being reminded of it. But either way, maybe, standing around for awhile listening to other people’s reactions, and looking at the solid form sitting there, undisturbed, maybe even she opened a bit.

(“Nice sculpt” is quite correct. A few dozen sculpty prims, amazingly detailed shape and texture. Her nose is marvelously nose-shaped, her curves wonderfully curvy. I’m very curious to know if they were shaped by hand, or from a mechanical scan of the model.)

thats the future of texture and rendering of avatars right there..i cant wait

Now there’s a thought! I’m more ambivalent about it than the speaker (who can claim her statement if she’d like :) ), but I’m not sure why. I think (‘though I’m not sure) that we’re already on the other side of the Eerie Valley, so getting more realistic isn’t likely to make us seem creepy. Maybe I’m afraid that incredibly realistic AVs will make it impossible for amateurs to get into the skin or shape business? Maybe I’m afraid that incredibly realistic humans AVs will make non-human ones (furries, aliens, robots, art) less common, or less valued? Dunno. I’m not against the idea, just ambivalent. For some reason.

Grotesque
RightAsRain hates women and loathes fat women in particular — so does Starax (or whoever 3D Soup is). Let’s not prettify this assault by calling it “art”.

This from a well known weblog. (RightAsRain Rimbaud is with Rezzable, who’s sponsoring the piece, and 3D Soup is the creator; rumors swirl that this is the same artist as Starax Statosky and Light Waves.)

What would make someone call a realistic (and, to my eye, sympathetic and beautiful) depiction of a human body (at rest, in no demeaning position or activity, with those parts that would offend your average prude gracefully hidden) “grotesque” and an “attack”, and to conclude that those behind it hate women? I mulled this over, driving a child here and there through a rainstorm, and the best I can come up with is that the writer of those words thinks that being that shape is shameful, and that people who are that shape must be kept hidden, that we should pretend they don’t exist, or that they’re really some other shape, and that therefore showing a woman that shape realistically is violating that shame. But I could be wrong; I hope I am.

Update: I’ve been convinced by the comments :) that someone could think (especially if they have a pre-existing dislike for Rezzable) “Putting out this work is a cynical attempt to cause destructive conflicts in the community, and anyone who would use a large woman for such a bad purpose must loathe large women, and as such the act is grotesque”. I find the argument very implausible :) but at least it does account for some of the views expressed without requiring any feelings of shame over largeness, so that’s good.

She is lovely and endearing and we all know someone like her in Real Life.

This from Bettina Tizzy over at NPIRL. I’m with her. :)

So anyway! Go! Look at it! See how it makes you feel. Listen to what the other people there say. Be part of it.

More mentions: L1Aura Loire (on both Botgirl and Odalisque), Emilly Orr, NWN, Trinity Halderstadt (on flickr), Michele, Soror Nishi (also a bit worried about the realism aspects), Sarah Nerd.

(Footnote: Rezzable seems to have a talent for finding neat art and then making it slightly annoying to experience. There’s a guest book for comments at Odalisque, but when I tried to use it it told me that my AV wasn’t associated with a Rezzable account, and did I want to visit their web page and sign up? I didn’t. I guess it’s all part of having to monetize things to pay tier, but it was a slight sour note in the music.)

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51 Responses

  1. I think a person’s reaction to art has more to do with the viewer’s consciousness than the work itself.

  2. /nod. With the additional observation that that’s truer of some art than others. This one is a ways out on the limb. :)

  3. […] 22, 2009 by Michele Hyacinth This breathtaking creation has left me speechless.  Thank you, Dale, for your wonderful weblog entry on Rezzable’s amazing and gorgeous […]

  4. […] Don Imus Dale Innis has people who like his writing (I do) but I could never place my finger on it until this article today.   Dale is one of those guys who can look at something (the stupid Rezzable art on the way out as […]

  5. Dale–interesting piece and you hit some of the key reactions we have seen also. It takes a lot to get the grid talking about a few prims, so this piece is big in a lot of unexpected ways. Sorry about the guestbook…you can also leave comments here: http://rezzable.com/blog/rightasrain-rimbaud/grand-odalisque

  6. Thanks, rightasrain! Yeah, I did leave a comment on that page, when I eventually found it.

  7. WOW… I too went to see the Odalisque. I was also amazed at some of the comments I heard. $15,000 L to buy the piece, and someone commented, “they must be selling her by the pound.” I was literally sick to my stomach when i heard that remark.

    The skin on her back, the freckles on her face, the belly she carried, her breasts …. she looked like someone i know, she could be me (there I said it)… she appears to have had children, and most probably nursed. She is a healthy size that is for sure…. and possibly over-weight by some doctors standards – but she is still a woman, and beautiful in her own right.

    To say this is not art – is being blind to what is in front of you, and the effect it has on the people around you. Everyone is talking, good or bad, they are talking. Art can create conversation, support, conflict, ideas, symbolism or no feelings at all. I much prefer to see art that creates. Creates an emotion or feeling is best, but not necessarily the best. If the piece were to
    serve a purpose for the betterment of man (or woman in this case) then it would be the ultimate art work.

    It is sad that there are people out there who cannot find the beauty in this image. We are not all the same shape – Thank heavens…. and we have mothers and grandmothers who more resemble the shape of this woman than some of us do.

    Bottom line, behind every shape, every skin, every avatar – there is a person, who has feelings. Feelings are not virtual. I am glad I am not so shallow that I only see the outside. It IS what’s on the inside that is the most important.

  8. Dale, please, let’s not turn SL into the VR equivalent of the setting of “Harrison Bergeron”. SL would benefit enormously if it advanced to the point that the general public could have shapes and skins with that level of verisimilitude. (Alas, what we see with the odalisque is, I’m sure, something that only looks right where it is set–even basic shadows are still experimental.) We don’t insist that Mercedes make lousy cars so that Joe Backyard can sell the cars he puts together out of old barrels and recycled soft drink cans in RL; I hope we never do the equivalent in SL.

    The photo I took of people looking at it looks like a group of cartoons looking at a person.

    Calling such a peaceful figure an “assault” tells us nothing about the object itself, but a lot about the person making that assertion.

    I’ll readily agree that I may not know what art is. After all, even years later I t think the stack of wet-dry vacs in Plexiglass cubes lit with fluoresent lights that the Des Moines Art Center paid pushing $200K for isn’t art, and that buying it was a stupid move. I will say that I think the odalisque is art, and I am sure that it’s a tour de force showing what SL may be capable of someday.

  9. Melissa: I know. :) I certainly wasn’t suggesting that we should keep meshes out of the grid in order not to advantage the more skilled. I just may regret some aspects of the days when the distance between amateur and professional was smaller. Even good changes bring some loss.

    Agree on the “assault” label. I think it may also be that the person in question just dislikes Rezzable, and assumes that therefore anything they do much be evil for some reason.

    And I’m probably with you on the wet-dry vacs. :D

  10. Oura: thanks again for the comments; very well put.

  11. Dale, you wrote above-“That anyone would divide women into “fat c–t” (bad) and “slim chick” (good), is pretty sad. That a woman would do that is even sadder. I wonder if she is someone young and pretty enough that she’s never had to think about just how legitimate magazine-cover standards are, or if on the other hand she’s internalized those standards enough that she feels fatally imperfect herself, and doesn’t like being reminded of it…”

    I have had this kind of disussion of lesser or greater terms with people who “should know better” and althougth their language isn’t as harsh, my auntie herself brought it to my attention.. when I asked “why don’t people on TV look exactly real in America compared to people on TV in the UK or other places.. ”

    and she in her common wisdom replied.. “People don’t want to see fat, ugly people on the TV or in films..” I was totally blown away by that response since she is and has been made to feel overweight by pressure to be thin.. My grandmother, her mother used to constantly bitch at her about how fat she was, when in all honesty, she wasn’t, but it didn’t stop her from yo-yoing and dieting.. obviously after a while and marrying someone of equal proportions, she basicly gave up.. after all she works with a male majority, and naturally if she were to do something besides holding a gym membership and never going, then I guess she would have to deal with, even at about 50 by now, a certain amount of unwanted advances from men, I believe…

    I find it like this, women seem to do the most harm to other women by perpetuating some kind of myth of “beauty” that they themselves can not even come close to or even attain.

    I found the fat C-t commentary coming from a woman not exactly surprising.. but I am often amazed more by where a person begins to be a “fat C-t” and sometimes its not even got any basis in reality, but because only one part of the body seems larger, such as breasts and arse.. very much as far as I know part of a woman as a sensual object of desire..

    Ah but that is just me.. and here I am, not perfect sized, kind of muscular on my 4th day of fasting.. (not for weight loss but it will be a byproduct, not the goal though, I’m into kidney stone prevention, and this is my first time fasting ever) I wonder how people will percieve me after dropping a few kilos?

    random food for thought,

    Be well Dale-
    AET :)

  12. I think people tend to interpret the visceral gut reaction they have to anything as a reflection of some sort of universal truth. So if I look at something and feel aversion, I think “it is repulsive”, rather then “it looks repulsive to me”. It seems that developing one’s ability to perceive beauty in all experiences would be a strategy leading to more happiness and less suffering for all concerned.

  13. Thanks Alter, that’s true and sad and interesting. I don’t know how we get past the limited (and even unhealthy!) ideals of beauty that we have now. Maybe if there turns out to be enough money in it :) things like the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty will actually help.

    Botgirl: We definitely tend to assume that our truths are universal. And perceiving beauty in everything is indeed a good habit; that is why I am so well-balanced an’ successful (not to mention devilishly attractive). :D

  14. Well, thanks for sharing that. i was there and i seen this artwork. I have to say that is the most wonderful thing i ever seen in SL. And from far. Is just astonishing!
    Great work on the textures (specially the lights are so well rendered), great work on the sculpties, and finally is a amazing piece of art. Very erotic and beautiful. You can’t just go from there and say: “yeah, ok, where do we go now?”. In this case you better rest in to the club you where before.
    I’m happy to had seen that.
    Is breathtaking. A word about the model maybe, as a lot of people talk about that?
    She is beautiful. Not on the way that some expect to see the centerfolds of Playboy or some other beauty magazines, but is that what everybody wants?
    Beauty is everywhere, but for that, we need to open our eyes to see it.
    Again, it was an extraordinary experience.
    Thank You RightAsRain!

  15. Thanks, Maximillian; obviously I agree. :) I’m also wildly curious how much of it was manual and how much automatic: that is, is it more like a sculpture, or a 3D photograph? (Not to suggest that photographs aren’t art.)

    You might want to post your thoughts on the Rezzable page directly as well:

    http://rezzable.com/blog/rightasrain-rimbaud/grand-odalisque

  16. Dale, I didn’t realize that Prok wrote about this work- I guess what I said was true, after by Prok’s own words she had a glamourous mother who worked in commericals on occasion.

    My own grandmother was a model, and my mother was a dancer/ model in NYC- it kind of makes for “ugly duckling syndrome” My mother never pushed me in this particulare direction, although she always tried to afirm that I had “beauty”.. but never let me dare do things like enter contests saying to me, girls like me didn’t do that sort of thing. It was because of our family structure.. and she made it out to be something that wasn’t typical. Maybe it was about the fact that I didn’t have long graceful legs and could climb trees…;)

    I still don’t see this work in question as an Assult, but I do see Prok in a whole different, almost extremely tragic light.

  17. Yeah, well… :)

    I think part of the reason for Prokofy’s negative reaction to the work is a pre-existing dislike of the sponsor: anything that Rezzable does *must* be an attack on SL.

    As Botgirl point out, we all bring out own issues and assumptions to any piece of art. Or anything else!

    Yay for treeclimbing! :)

    • well yeah, I know she utterly hates anything and anyone associated with Rezzable, so she’s definately not neutral on what she has brought, but I see that she brought some really deep wounded feelings as well, things that can’t be mearly accounted to the fact she hates Rezzable.

      I have a brother who is about 7.5 years younger than I, and he used to claim he was “older” than I to other people and they believed him because they never saw him up a tree ;) Sometimes a tree is a really great place to be :D

  18. I dunno, Dale, I don’t think Prok has to be some sort of self-hating fatty in order to view this piece with serious, legitimate suspicion, and I think he makes some important points here:

    “I’ve said that *this portrayal* is an assault. There are all kinds of portrayals of big fat naked women. Some are art. Some aren’t. Some are masterpieces. Some are kitsch. Some are assaults. Some were hated in their day (the original Odalisque) for breaking canonical traditions. But this isn’t about breaking canonical traditions…”

    And here:

    “The work is vandalism and assault because it causes so many people to lie and become convulsed with political correctness in fear of seeming to be either self-loathing, or loathing of fat people. It’s terribly manipulative and ultimately cruel.”

    That second statement in particular gets straight to what’s been nagging at the back of my mind about this piece, and it’s only been growing as the discussion has played out in-world and in the SL-blogosphere. I’m starting to think that we’re all being played here, and that each of us is ringing out her/his required note like a finely-tuned instrument…

    The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the real work of ‘art’ here is not the sculpture by itself, but the dynamic; our reactions to the juxtaposition of our fantastically-stylized, ‘perfect’ avatars against this stunningly-rendered image of someone much less glamorous, much more ‘authentic,’ plopped down into our midst. Challenging us, of course, to admit that *this* is what we *actually* look like behind our keyboards (and no, it doesn’t matter if you really do look like that or not, the joke’s still on you).

    That she’s presented in the classic style of an Object of Beauty only serves to fuel the fires of the two vocal camps that split out pretty-much immediately and on-cue:

    On one hand, we get the predictably ugly, snickering ‘haters,’ making all sorts of nasty comments (in-world, of course, where they won’t get saved for posterity), setting up all manner of fat-joke pictures, videos, etc. Juvenile, reprehensible, magnified by the anonymity of the internet, classic 4chan lulz material :/

    And on the other, preserved for all the ages in the blogs, we get the equal-but-opposite ‘lovers,’ effusively lauding “her” beauty (not the sculpture’s beauty, you notice, but the woman’s), and her “bravery” (really?!? for just lying there, like every model in every Figure Drawing class I’ve ever taken?), and in general (AET, you’re a sterling exception proving my rule here), COMPLETELY AVOIDING the topic of how RL women possessing this sort of beauty get treated out there on the RL street, by ALL OF US.
    (And no, sorry, I’m not letting anyone off the hook here: We’re all subject to the same bombardment of impossible beauty ideals, we’ve all internalized it to some degree, and judge each other based on it, like it or not. Hold off your PC protestations for a minute)…

    I mean, it’s the stuff graduate theses are made of, no?

    The crowning glory, of course, would have been a full-on Forum/Plurk/Grid-griefing/Twitterfight trainwreck over this thing, but I’m pretty sure all the energy for that got drained off into Sion Chickens SLCC Chalkgate instead. Lucky us, lol

    So here we have it: A piece that seems handily conceived to spark a big ol’ dramafest, and expose everyone’s ugliness and hypocrisy, sponsored by someone well-known to be quite dissatisfied with SL (and leaving for greener pastures), but somehow criticizing it, and calling a spade a spade, is really just expressing some sort of self-loathing? I just don’t think so.

    Look, I know how fashionable it is to hate on Prok, and I totally understand why. He seems to really enjoy being a dickhole, and has hurt a lot of people’s feelings over the years. I feel crazy for even defending him, but the fact of the matter is, none of us would still be reading him if he wasn’t RIGHT more often than we’d like to admit.

    He’s *not* saying it’s assault to make statues of large-bodied women, or that women of that shape should be shamed and hidden away from public view. He’s calling shenanigans on *this particular piece,* put out by *these particular men,* at *this particular time in(at the end of) their SL careers.*

    Given the fact that we’ve got absolutely no statement from the artist that would affirm or refute anyone’s interpretation, who are we to browbeat anyone into silence on this?

    I’ve already gone way off into tl:dr territory, so I’ll wrap this up, with apologies. I certainly don’t mean to disparage any of you who truly love this piece. There’s tremendous value in finding and declaring beauty in the forms that actual people possess, not just the stretched-out supermodels or pumped-up atheletes.

    I just can’t shake the feeling that there’s a mean joke embedded in the Grand Odalisque, and at $L15,000 a pop, Rezzable’s certainly laughing all the way to the bank…

    I eagerly await a statement from 3D Soup regarding his motivations & intent for this piece…

    • I think you’re spot-on, Truthseeker, when you say that this is more about our varied and deep reactions to it than it is about “here’s a pretty thing”. But imho that’s true of all significant art. Good art isn’t pretty necessarily; good art is disturbing. It can be disturbing in that it’s so lovely that it rouses disturbing desires for perfection, it can be disturbing in that it simultaneously looks beautiful and makes us feel bad, it can be disturbing in that it almost looks like a simple portrait but has a strange air of mystery (cf Mona Lisa), etc, etc, etc. In this case, it’s disturbing to different people in different ways, and it’s even meta-disturbing in that we are disturbed by each other’s reactions to it! :)

      But I don’t think that any of that makes it “vandalism” or an “assault” or an “attack”, or makes it anything mean or cruel. It makes us think, it makes us feel. Some people would rather not think or feel :) but those are the people who need art the most.

      (So Prokofy is certainly right that this isn’t just a “here’s something pretty” piece of art. But as usual Prokofy is wrong about the underlying motives and ethics, because he sees evil and hatred everywhere. I will not speculate as to why that might be.)

      Certainly no one should be browbeaten for expressing an opinion. But on the other hand no one should be exempt from having that opinion critiqued. To disagree with someone and to wonder about what might be behind an opinion isn’t browbeating; it’s the bread and butter of the Great Conversation. Ideally, of course, it’s done with politeness and respect. I hope I’ve done that here.

      And thanks for the very thoughtful comment! This kind of thing is exactly why I love this piece. Well, that and I do actually think she’s hot. :) There was this girl in college… well, nvm…

      • Thank *you,* Dale, for being willing to have a real conversation on this piece. And yes, it’s certainly testament to the success of the work that it’s engendered such passionate response.

        I agree wholeheartedly, as well, that politeness and respect are paramount, especially when approaching the major hot-button issues that this piece has clearly brought up for so many of us.

        My long-ass screed above was primarily driven (triggered? unlocked?) by this, towards the end of your post:

        “…the best I can come up with is that the writer of those words thinks that being that shape is shameful, and that people who are that shape must be kept hidden, that we should pretend they don’t exist, or that they’re really some other shape, and that therefore showing a woman that shape realistically is violating that shame. …”

        That was *best* you could come up with for why someone might feel as Prok does towards this piece? Really?

        I definitely won’t go as far as calling Odalisque an assault or an act of outright cruelty, but I did think that at the core, he had a defensible position, especially since my own thinking had already been headed in a similar direction, well before he posted his own blog piece.

        I don’t like feeling so nakedly manipulated, either, even if I’m not as prone to fits of vehement hyperbole.

        But enough about Prokofy :D

        Yes, all my own buttons around beauty and body-size were pushed by this piece, big-time. Certainly other people’s were, too, judging from much of the commentary. And there we all were, the ‘lovers’ and ‘haters,’ thrown together in a round (arena-like?) room, staring (even glaring) at one-another across this piece… A setup, I tells ya, a SETUP! XD

        It seemed impossible that the setting and presentation weren’t at least as carefully considered as the dazzling sculpt, and yes, as a result, I projected a great deal more intent onto the artist than perhaps was warranted, judging from his own comment below.

        But standing there with everyone else, what flashed into my mind most vividly was the flurry of reactions my most liberal-est of friends and I had, way back when we first encountered Landover Baptist: first the outrage at the fundie-xtian bonkjobbery, then the relieved laughter upon realization that it was actually a parody, followed by a strangely unsettling suspicion that *we,* the self-righteous lefties, were actually the butts of this joke, for being so easily goaded into outrage over something so clearly ridiculous.

        “Uh-oh,” said that far-too-clever-for-its-own-good part of myself, there in front of Odalisque, “better start lookin’ around for a punchline…”

        Apologies again; I just can’t seem to keep it short & sweet on this :p

      • I guess maybe I do like being manipulated (ooh, sounds kinky!). At least when it’s being manipulated into thinking about interesting stuff, or into reacting to things in ways that teach me something (about myself, about others, about the world).

        I could understand if someone else were to be annoyed by that, I think; but would that really justify words as strong as “assault” or “attack” or “vandalism”? I guess one could argue that the audience is being assaulted in the sense that our perceptions are being played with. But in that sense *all* interesting art would be an “assault”, and I doubt that that’s what the writer of those words meant.

        I found Landover Baptist great, also. :) Yeah, it’s a brilliantly done parody, and as such it does make the reader do a double-take, or even a triple-take, on his own perceptions. And I think that’s *good*!

        But maybe I’m just weird. :)

      • Again, I think that labels like ‘assault’ and ‘vandalism,’ while extreme, can still legitimately stem from one’s beliefs about the intent of the artist/perpetrator.

        If you believe that the work’s creator is doing nothing more than cynically setting members of a community against one another, for no other reason than to sit back & watch the fights unfold — or worse, to prove to himself that this bitter, hypocritical, drama-laden community is beneath him (thus, providing rationale for his departure from said community) — then yes, I can see calling such a stunt an assault against your community. Vandalism, even; destroying just to destroy.

        Back in high school we called it “iinstigatin'” (with the drawn-out first ‘i’ for emphasis :p): Whispering shit-talk into two different people’s ears, pointing them towards one-another as the source of said shit-talk, then sitting back and watching the fur fly. Lulz before we even had the internet :D

        And NO, it’s most-assuredly NOT fun to get manipulated like that.
        And no, it’s also most-assuredly NOT the stuff of *all interesting art.*
        And if you got caught being the Instigator, it was universally understood that you’d EARNED your severe ass-stomping, at the fists/Nikes of all those wrapped up in your little caper…

        While I suppose it could be said that there’s value in such an experience — perhaps it teaches you to watch out for head-games or whatever — most people I know, myself included, would rather do without such ‘lessons,’ if we could be spared the pain & lost friendships that inevitably resulted from such episodes.

        And no, it wouldn’t make it ok, if the instigator, when caught, busted out with some “b-but, don’t you see, it was ART!! I’ve SHOWN you something about yourselves!!”

        **Also, I feel the need to underscore the fact that we are NO LONGER TALKING ABOUT THE ODALISQUE, since we’ve got confirmation from the creator himself that NONE of this went into his creation of the piece. :))

      • Well, we don’t necessarily have to believe the artist’s statement of intent, if we think he might be evil. :)

        But I have a hard time imagining any piece of artwork that could have the same malicious impact on a community as that kind of whispering campaign of lies. And in fact of course Odalisque hasn’t done anything like t hat; I haven’t heard of any broken marriages or fistfights about it. It’s just caused alot of interesting discussion.

        So even if the artist had been intending to do bad things, he’s failed. And it’s hard for me to imagine what an evil artist’s intent could have been with “Odalisque”; it hasn’t harmed the community in any way, and it’s hard to see how an evil artist could have expected it to. Unlike the kind of instigatin’ you describe. :)

    • Truthseeker Young wrote “(AET, you’re a sterling exception proving my rule here), COMPLETELY AVOIDING the topic of how RL women possessing this sort of beauty get treated out there on the RL street, by ALL OF US.
      (And no, sorry, I’m not letting anyone off the hook here: We’re all subject to the same bombardment of impossible beauty ideals, we’ve all internalized it to some degree, and judge each other based on it, like it or not. Hold off your PC protestations for a minute)…”

      Hold ON Truthseeker- IRL I have drawn such models, and know such people, and have been as a pregnant woman such people… I know that the state of the human body can be fluid and constantly transforming.. from extemely obsese to pleasingly plump to moderately matternal to athletic to “Xena warrior princess” to androgenous body builder to “thin” to wirery to anorexic..

      so many shades of humanity and the female “ideal”, so many versions you can experience within a whole life time.. How people treat just one small portion of the scale and depth of variation has nothing to do with the wholeness… women are treated badly in general by the male gaze and usually woman are the jailers of this experience.. as other woman form the “national guard” of the acceptable, from mothers and sisters to neighbours..

      and yet if any man gives a sideways glance, there is always another person there to smack them down for having any different kind of taste.. it doesn’t matter about body shape, how about AGE, how about cultural expression of beauty in general.

      As an artist and a person who is ethincally multi cultural, I have to say that the idea that I sidestepped the issue is outrageous.. that I saw the sensualty that was appealing to me, the strength and confidence of a woman sleeping naked felt no where near an assult but perhaps a sanctuary.. a haven, perhaps even a curiousity to carress the curvaciousness of the flesh I could not touch. There is with this kind of reality a tactile sensuality, there was the sensation to my eyes of genuine santcuary and real flesh.. of course had I encountered her awake and in the sauna, I may just talk to her, and try to be a little less of a voyare.

      Would a man feel the same way? I do not know.

      I do not care about the politics of Rezzible, and I feel that atmosphere is nothing about Rezzible… they have their own thing going on.. it is obviously independant to the virtual art and things like for example Rezzible is known for, like Greenies and such.. This is the voice of Rezzible I know.

      For me the peice may have been a repeat of a kind of those paintings from cira 1900 in Germany, those naturalist paintings, usually portraying a very rudimentary mother laying naked, sleeping besides her child.. and this is what came to mind when I first saw the wholeness of the work..and the various versions seen within the blogs.

      with art and design you bring what you have to the show- we will all see a massive amount of things such as “injustice” “assult” or “sensuality” and finally “beauty”.

      because I see something in my way, does not mean I am avoiding any issues.. it simply means that I am suprised by the contrast of reactions.. and at Prok, but it shouldn’t surprise me, there is a deeply wounded person there who wouldn’t look upon an action done by one person always associated with and stands by the notion that its all a collaberation of sinister dark forces.

      Truthseeker, I thought that you would understand that no one can harm a person more than the time spent listening to the voices of those dark suspect shadows that only one’s own perfect self can place there.

      When it comes to body consciouness, although I am not immune and have shared my opinion here about what people say only reflects what environment they have been cultivated within.. I find myself repeating once again, surprisingly I rarely find a self hating woman is born self hating, but rather made to be this way. Its the other side of the coin.. and they are usually the “inforcers” of the unwritten law about what is beautiful and acceptable and what is horrible..

      I also note that thin people ALSO suffer prejudgements, extremely thin are percieved also just as unhealthy larger “fatter” people.. and sometimes in some cultures, if one is too thin they immedately think AIDS..

      so anything you have, its not to be erases or operated upon, or enhanced.. although I hate a double D bustline.. I would never considering cutting them off… but I can’t for the love of God understand why some would actually get an operation to put a pair of breasts on themselves as big or bigger and risk their own lives with surgery.. I don’t understand it, but at the same time, I empthise because I hear this disapointment from friends and others concerning their own breasts for being smaller.. and I feel that for some reason they have become fixated on just this part of their body just because of some past disapointment something or someone said or did to them to make them feel as though they needed more to be attractive.

      People in various places percieve things differently in whatever body they have.. If I say I feel there is an injustice that people to feel as if beauty or a face makes for beauty or a head of hair makes for beauty.. then we all play this game of life and “unfairness” on this playing field of bias and opression.. every last one of us..

      The worst we can do is allow any inner voice of self hatred have a say, but pull the magicalness of being who you are and shine no matter who you are.. I mean, its all possible.

      Even if some people are inequal due to poverty or that they lack confidence and believe that they can BUY their own joy.. and when they buy something and it makes them happy, makes a statement… is it really that THING- I believe its not possible you pull these feelings out of the well of the selfness.. and those are mearly crutches- so the opposite applies when one is bombared with their own self hatred and lends voices.. you are pulling out the stops and allowing for the negative influence to tarnish your point of view.

      Even in the face of unfairness if you give them a constant airtime with your soul, you manifest those things.. no question about it. And if you completely ignore inequality and unfairness you become blind.. I am neither manifesting nor am I blind, I just saw what I saw as how I feel concerning the world.

      I suppose in this inequality of blogist world, the word is the true beauty, this I have no real command over, no proper spelling and no respect for runons.. or coliquals.. I am then treated unfairly, but I still do not allow the unfair treatments I have recieved by Prok to cloud my judgment concerning her wounded state.. nor have I really provoked any RL damages.. nor am I a hedenistic age player, as she told me day one..

      But never mind, I know by who I am and what I do that Prok isn’t always “right” in fact more than often Prok is dead wrong. And I can never add up to this history or significant worker for the UN, Prokofy Neva, seeker of unjustice and fighter for all that is well annoying to Prok. Its just personal for Prok, alas, for me, it may be, or it may not be..

      Prok isn’t innocent when it comes to prejudces either, especially her attitude towards those percieved to be “Poor” as a massive amount of welfare grabing, with massive amounts of children.. but this was on Prok’s blog. Obviously Prok doesn’t like an idea of state care, and wishes to starve people… ah starvation.. another story.. still fasting.

      • AET, I think Truthseeker was saying that you are the only one that *hasn’t* sidestepped the issue of real-life treatment of women. :)

        And thanks for expanding on the issue; your perspective is always interesting, and however you spell it :) your writing is always a pleasure to read.

      • Obviously I allowed my “inner voices” whenever the name of defence of Prok comes into play, I become batshit crazy– sometimes paranioa steps in..

        Probably seeing things that are not there.. Sorry Dale and Sorry Truthseeker if I expressed my opinion in a rather strong way.. it was not my intention, in the light of things.

        Perhaps the grain of truth arises.. I too feel paranoid when it comes to my expression.. of course I could blame other factors.

      • No need to apologize on my account. :)

      • Dale’s absolutely right, AET, I was indeed placing you among the few who actually seemed to be taking on and saying something about the larger issues that are indeed wrapped up in this piece (weather or not 3D Soup intended for them to be there). I applaud your willingness to share so much of your own story, and definitely did NOT mean to suggest that you were sidestepping anything. Please accept my apologies for being unclear.

        I do need to say, tho, that I’m also not here to defend Prokofy, beyond the fact that I agree with him that Grand Odalisque could defensibly be read as an unkind prank (to put it mildly).

        3D Soup has made it clear that it *wasn’t* intended as such, but we didn’t *know* that until, um (peering at timestamps) 9:51 this morning xD

        We, the audience, weren’t given anything to go on in terms of statement about the piece from the artist or from Rezzable, outside of the work itself and the context it was presented in. And opinions legitimately vary as to weather or not Rezzable is any longer a good-faith player in SL… but I’m not here to attack them either.

        I’m willing to own, and even let go of, my own projections about the intent of this piece.

        I do still have many reservations about it, however, especially in the larger context of art history, women’s bodies and the male gaze, etc… But THAT is a whole ‘nother long-winded rant :D

      • … and we could also have a REALLY long discussion about whether or not the intent of the artist has anything at all to do with the merit of an artwork… :)

      • O god, nooooooooooo!

        At least let me get over this cold, first. My brain feels knotted-up enough already :s

  19. “I feel crazy for even defending him, but the fact of the matter is, none of us would still be reading him if he wasn’t RIGHT more often than we’d like to admit.”

    I don’t think that follows. There are fans of Dr. Bronner and Francis E. Dec, but I doubt that many agree with the contents of their rants.

  20. TruthSeeker,

    I honestly find the girl attractive. Rezzable didn’t know that I had made the model until I’d sent it to them.

    There isn’t the slightest connection with me making the model and Rezzable “leaving”.

    I made the model because I thought it would make a nice change from the idealistic figures we see in SL. I was also aware that people may question my motives, I’m fine with that :)

    I made a conscious effort not to mess around with the final model (add things) and do anything that may seem patronizing or mocking. I also warned Rezzable not to mess with the model too. Thankfully they took my advice and presented it in a neutral environment. Although this resulted in a few “it’s a bit boring” criticisms. arrgh! We can’t win! haha

    Tech info:
    I manually made the model in ZBrush and projected a photo onto it. There’s no fancy trickery involved, it’s all just bog standard stuff that your everyday 3D modeling guy/girl could pull off.

    ps – Thanks for the great article, Dale!

    • Thanks much for the peek behind the veil! And for the piece itself. :) Extremely gratifying to know that you liked my modest writeup, too!

      /me preens.

      It may have been just ordinary work technically once you’d decided what you were going to do, but that initial decision was imho a great piece of art.

    • 3D Soup, (sorry for the name confusion before), just wanted to congratulate you for your work.
      I’m really impressed and also i was very curious about the technical details. Is an amazing job and i love your choices. As i said, i think was the most beautiful thing i’ve seen until now in SL. Thank you.

    • Thank you very much for stepping in to clear this up.

      I certainly didn’t *like* feeling that I was being had, as I stood there enthralled by your piece (and I’ll say again, it’s STUNNING), and so it’s good to hear that any hint of malice was just my own over-protective imagination getting carried away…

      I would like to ask about the title, though: Why Odalisque?

      Logan Bauer put forth a very nice take on it in this thread in the SL forums (his is post #19), but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on connecting your sculpture not just to the famous Ingres piece, but the larger fashion of this sort of imagery among artists of the time.

      Care to share more?

      • Hey, I totally understand anybody questioning the intention behind the model. No worries! :)

        I suspect it’s the neutrality of the model that makes its meaning so dubious. That combined with Rezzable’s recent announcements it’s no wonder that some people have questioned it. “Fat lady sings..” etc..

        But like I said, Rezzable had no idea I was making the model and I’m a totally seperate entity from Rezzable. Them “leaving” SL doesn’t necessarily mean I’m leaving. Although the thought of opening my own store and dealing with the copybot – UGH!

        As for the name ‘Grand Odalisque’ – I have to give credit to Rezzable for that. I didn’t know what to name her because whatever name I came up with sounded a little patronizing or mischievous. I ended up naming her ‘Object’ at one point, but then I realized that even that could be taken wrong; “You’re OBJECTIFYING WOMEN! YOU BAStARD!” GAH!. That and the fact that I’d lose it in my inventory! ::D

        So I just ended up sending it to Rezzable with the name ‘3D model’ and told them I didn’t know what to name her. They then took that as an opportunity to come up with a name themselves. And a great name it is too!. :)

        Still, if anybody is offended by the name then – GET REZZABLE!

      • lol, you’re undoing all the mystery! :) I guess we can speculate about Mysterious Forces at Rezzable and their motives for the name for awhile at least….

  21. The extremely varied, passionate and thoughtful responses to the work make me believe that it touched a deep place within many people.
    Some of the recent comments on my own work have sensitized me to the practice of viewing art more through one’s speculations of an artist’s motives instead of trying to experience freshly through the sensory experience. I think it is usually more valuable to contemplate and take ownership of one’s own feelings connected to the experience. An artist doesn’t inject us with feelings of disgust or ecstacy…he or she only creates a work that each viewer interprets through thoughts and feeling tied to own past experience. That’s a gift if we are willing to face the mirror instead of our outwardly wagging finger.

    • Thanks for the very good points, both about art, and about life in general. Taking ownership of and responsibility for one’s own feelings (which doesn’t mean ignoring the genuine moral and ethical responsibilities of those who act) seems to be a very good way to live, both with oneself and within the community. Your own work (including yourself :) ) are also good examples of the different ways that interesting art is disturbing.

  22. Coming at this from an artists point of view. I went to see this piece and was first struck by the realism, which in sl is a new thing.

    The actual piece seems from my point of view to be a 3D version of a LONG history of nudes in photography, and therefore neither shocking nor provocative. Simply a close examination of ‘the thing itself’.

    But that, of course, is only my personal point of view. As with all art, the meaning of a work comes from the viewers relationship to the piece. This meaning is different for all viewers dependent on their own personal history and upbringing and degree of thoughtfulness.

    It is always interesting to me to witness the proclamations of ‘This piece represents X’, as being obviously the only possible way that the piece can be understood. (With the intent of the artist being either praised or trashed.)

    The fact that the many absolute proclamations are contradictory is only proof of the relativity of perception and interpretation.

    Artists consider themselves successful when they present a work and it produces a reaction of anything other than boredom. Most of us know the relativity of taste out there and only wish to communicate what we like. But we realize that many or even most will not see our intent as we do.

    Art is poetic, in that purposefully, it can be seen in different ways by different people. And it gains meaning when perceived by those who find things there that the artist didn’t intend.

    I congratulate the artist known with this piece as 3D Soup for bringing in a heretofore unseen level of realism to SL. We appreciate the efforts a lot.

    VR art is in flux at the moment and still in the very early days. It is exciting the continue to observe the ‘firsts’ that occur in SL regularly. I am excited to be a part of it myself.

    • Thanks much for the thoughts from an art-maker’s point of view, Scarp. I found the work interesting, to first order, both because of the extreme realism (about which I’m still ambivalent for reasons I can’t yet articulate), and because of the choice of subject.

      The unmarked case, if you will, would have been some underweight photo model; that the artist chose someone with a body type that (as Truthseeker reminds us) is not generally treated well in the world, struck me just about as hard as the realism did.

      It is, as you suggest, a striking “3D photograph”. It will be very interesting to see what follows.

  23. Couldn’t help myself. Here’s a visual comment on the discussion: http://botgirl.blogspot.com/2009/08/visual-commentary-on-odalisque.html

  24. I love this sculpture because it defies anyone to look at it and not have an opinion:

    “Here is a woman, a real woman. Look at her. She is naked so she is not hiding her flaws, she is sleeping so you may look freely because she is unaware that you are looking at her. What do you see?”

    It asks questions – “What do you feel?” and then the very important “Why?”

    The answers people give come from deep within themselves. They can be any combination of admiring the piece, hating it , being empowered by it or disturbed by it, but the feelings it brings out are always revealing when people confront the second qustion “Why do you feel this?”

    At the same time, and on another leve entirely, l this work is a piece of technical mastery in that this level of realism has never been seen before in SL.

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