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Mesh Dramatics

One of my most cherished possessions in Second Life is a huge collection of dramatic poses created by Heidi Dahlseveen, which she very generously gave me many years ago. Heidi is a storyteller and her poses are unlike any other that I have ever seen in SL, in that they compress a huge amount expression into that one instance that the pose represents. And when one poses several avatars one ends up getting quite extraordinary mise-en-scenes. Which is something that I have done very often, also by creating entire stages to supplement the “tale.” I have done this because I am fascinated with the “frozen moment.” I like all the unknowns that are embedded into this. What came before? What will happen next? All is open to speculation. Unless one knows the tale, of course. But then, I don’t know the tale, do I?

The reason for this may have to do with a book that sat on our coffee table at home when I was a very young child – it was called something like the “masterpieces of the renaissance and the baroque.” And I remember very distinctly spending hours looking at these images. Some of which were very gruesome obviously. So, from today’s standpoint, it would actually be perceived as quite objectionable that my parents left the book within my easy reach. But, back then children were exposed to much more than they are nowadays – and a very good thing it was too, if you ask me… Anyway, gruesome or not, an early exposure to what were formally poised scenes during the Renaissance that later evolved into the frozen fluidity of the Baroque, culminating in the frivolity of Fragonard or in the storminess of Gericault (the image at the top is his “Raft of the Medusa”), must have really impressed me. Because to this day, I prefer still images that demonstrate such a compressed drama to videos or animations in which the unfolding drama is determined upon by the creator of the animation or video. Not much is left to our imaginations, we are passive watchers.

While I was looking at the images in the book, as a child, I did not know all the Biblical stories that the images represented. So, they allowed me to ruminate on what was happening in them. What had led up to that one tiny moment in which all became still, and what would unfold when the motion resumed? That – I think was what fascinated me. And still fascinates me today. Not knowing.

And now, working with my mesh critters in Sculptris I am discovering that I can create figures that possess such compressed, heightened drama, especially when I group them together. Even if their faces are made only out of blobs and bumps. Even if they are highly minimalized.

Which brings me back to Heidi’s poses: Back then when she made them the SL avatar did not have a very wide range of expressions. In fact had no expression to speak of outside of a very silly exaggerated expression hud that only created caricatures. So, looking at them with new eyes, after having played around with my blobby creatures, I see that she did the same thing. Used body language and motion in lieu of facial expression.

Obviously Heidi is a master storyteller. A genius at what she does. So, I have no aspirations to make mesh drama that would compete with what she achieved with her SL poses.

But that said, I will pursue this. How could I not, given that this is such a fascinating new playground for me. 


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