The Pose Fair 2017 is here. With it will come a flood, no doubt, of Bento finger gestures, the latest must-have SL accessory now that our digital digits are finally fully articulated. Get ready for a market saturation of heart signs, okays, thumbs ups and middle finger farewells. It’s always fascinating to see what new ideas our beloved content creators can come up with at the cutting edge of SL tech. Personally, I think the time is now right for Second Life animated sock puppets and hand shadow theatre. If only my grandparents were still around to see what we get up to today; they wouldn’t recognise a thing…
As I have become increasingly absorbed in Second Life photography, my interest in poses – an area of the metaverse marketplace I’ve pretty much completely ignored over my ten years of SL – has finally started to grow. Project Bento aside, it strikes me that there have been few major leaps forward in SL tech during the last decade exploitable by the pose makers: you can’t use Windlight or mesh or ultra graphics mode to make a better pose. Where we wouldn’t dream of putting on an outfit or living in a house made in 2007, we probably all still use 2007 poses from time-to-time, even if it’s just the sits we use when out and about across the grid.
With all that time to expand their product range without the constant spectre of product obsolescence hanging over their shoulders, you’d think by now that the poser producers would have come up with some pretty creative content to push back the boundaries beyond the mainstream humdrum of couch reclines and bar-stool hunches. Well, up to a point. With over 42,000 items currently for sale in the ‘Posing animations’ category on the marketplace, it’s certainly fair to say there’s no shortage of choice. And if you’re a single female wanting to photograph yourself sitting, standing, leaning, stretching, kneeling, crawling, lying, turning, twisting, thinking, reading, dancing, running, skipping, doing the yoga cobra, holding a kitten in the air, cradling an unborn child, taking aim with a firearm, taking a selfie with a cell phone, curling up into a ball, dropping a bunch of lemons or just plain pondering on the fucked-up state of the world today then the chances are your luck will be in.
If you’re a couple and in love you will find yourself equally spoiled: there is no end of romantic Kodak moments to be captured in SL, with more hugging, kissing, touching heads, walking hand-in-hand, leaning back-to-back, and sitting side-by-side poses than you could possibly hope for.
But come on: these aren’t the only things that couples in a relationship do. Nor are they the only things that couples in relationship are depicted as doing in art. Well why would they be? Are not all aspects of human relationships beautiful and worthy of study in their own right? I’m not talking about sex, by the way; I’m talking about conflict and pain and endings. Is not the ending of any relationship as emotional as its beginning? Are not the conflicts we experience in our relationships amongst the most intense moments of our lives? Why would we not want to reflect on these things in our art?
On the one hand, it’s hardly rocket science why we don’t see more ’emotional pain’ poses in the marketplace: few people experiencing emotional pain in a Second Life relationship are likely to have the inclination to set up a posed scene reflecting this to photograph…
But on the other hand, not every photographer who takes a couples photo with someone is actually in a romantic relationship with that person. People not in a relationship can still be motivated to depict one; it’s exactly this distance that’s needed sometimes to show love without the rose-tinted spectacles.
So my call to pose makers is this: more pain, more conflict, more grief please. If SL is truly to become the tool of artistic expression we want it to be, it needs to reflect all aspects of emotional life, not just the nice bits.
These could include:
The silent treatment. She is reading a book at one end of the couch. He is resolutely watching TV at the other. An animated version could include an exaggerated page-turn motion.
What time do you call this? He is creeping through the doorway, hand on the light switch. She is sitting, arms folded, on a chair in the middle of the room.
Excuse me? Her head is slightly tilted and she’s pointing a finger in the air. He is looking sideways, reviewing what he just said.
We were on a break! He is standing on one side of the closed door, arms thrown wide in frustration. She is leaning with her back against the other side, her hands covering her face.
It’s not you it’s me. She is sitting at a table, slumped slightly. He is standing and pointing at himself with both hands. An animated version version could show that he’s also edging towards the door.
How dare you. She is glaring at him. He is rubbing his cheek.
Mine. Yours. Mine. He is holding one edge of the CD. She is holding the other. Adjust the distance between the two pose balls for a hipster vinyl version.
See you around, kiddo. She is standing in the road, looking back from the open door of a taxi. He is standing in the doorway waving.
Receiving the news. He and she are sitting side-by-side, but on different chairs. They are holding hands.
Goodbye, my love. S/he holds his/her limp fingers tight.