Captivated by Yannick Whoa’s Way of Beauty

My Way of Beauty
My Way of Beauty

Now open through until the end of the month at Max Butoh’s wonderful Dathúil gallery, is an exhibition by Yannick Whoa entitled My Way of Beauty. Featuring a collection of 29  images of people from within Second Life (including a self-portrait just inside the entrance to the gallery), My Way of Beauty presents a series of images that are both a captivating and enigmatic in nature.

The easiest way to explain the exhibition is to quote Yannick directly:

What  you see here is how I see my world. I look into people’s faces and find beauty. As a photographer I’m trying to capture this beauty. Often the mystery of that beauty is in the eyes of the model…

For me someone’s beauty is always just a mirroring effect of the way someone thinks or feels. So when I see someone beautiful maybe I just see something that touches me and makes me feel for a person.


My Way of Beauty
My Way of Beauty

It is this idea that someone’s beauty can reflect something within them and lead us towards an empathic response (rather than – for want of a better term – a purely hormonal reaction) which is the first thing to make this exhibition  captivating.

Many of us work hard to refine our avatars, sculpting them, creating a desired look, and so on, that in doing so we’re actually defining ourselves through them. Thus, their beauty, how they are or can be perceived may well resonate with others in ways that might not consciously occur us during that process of creation and refinement; so you might say they become the digital windows to our souls – and it is this which almost hauntingly forms the essence of Yannick’s images.

My Way of Beauty
My Way of Beauty

Each image is beautifully crafted in terms of the camera angle, lighting, and so on; I’ve no idea how many may have been posed or how many might be the result of “genuine” on-the-fly moments – the happenstance turning of the camera to find a subject poised in the frame and then capturing the moment before it is lost. I suspect all of them are more the former than the latter, but this is hardly important. What is captured in each of the pictures is more than a moment in time or a choreographed image; it is a story.

And that’s the enigma also present in each these pictures; we have no idea who any of the subjects are (unless we have happened upon them ourselves and thus recognise them through friendship or acquaintanceship). Nor do we have any description or title to any of the framed images which might otherwise guide our thinking around them.

Thus, each will speak differently to each person who studies it (something, one might say, is also a reflection of the old adage, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”); the story it tells will be unique for each of us. Nevertheless, it is there; a narrative which seems to start most often with the eyes – themselves often the focal point for Yannick when framing an image – and permeates the entire image, drawing us in and eliciting that empathic response.

My Way of Beauty
My Way of Beauty

Yannick notes that we all have a different measure by which to assess beauty, and he’s right – again, the old adage about eyes, beauty and beholders returns to mind. But looking at the images displayed at Dathúil, it is hard not to see the many layers of beauty in each of them. In this respect, I’d venture to suggest that his observation that some might feel him “shallow” for focusing on beauty over inner qualities is unfounded; rather, it is hard not to see the depth of perception and revelation his images both contain and evoke.

As noted at the top of this article, My Way of Beauty is open through until the end of the month, and should not be missed.

My Way of Beauty
My Way of Beauty

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Lab presents spring Premium membership offer – with a slight twist

We’re all familiar with the Lab’s periodic Premium membership offers: every once in a while one will pop-up offering a discount for those who up their membership from Basic or who are signing-up to SL for the first time.

I’d actually been expecting such an offer to pop-up around mid-March. However, it was announced on Friday, April 3rd, with a blog announcement,  and runs through until the Monday, April 13th, when it expires at 08:00 SLT.

As the blog post notes, there is no Premium gift offer this time around, instead the lab point to their recent announcement of  a Premium perk:

Being a Premium Second Life subscriber carries many benefits – from weekly L$ stipends, to your own Linden Home, expanded live customer support options, exclusive gifts, and more. Just last week, we added a new perk for Premium subscribers, and we’ll be adding even more benefits and features for Premium members throughout the year.

premium spring-15
This time the 50% discount applies to the first month’s payment on the Monthly plan

None of this is what makes the offer particularly interesting. As I’ve noted, they do pop-up periodically. What is interesting however, is hinted-at in the body text of the post:

If you’ve been waiting to upgrade to a Premium account, now is a great time, because today we’re kicking off a great new sale: from today until April 13, 2015, you can upgrade to Premium subscription for less than $5 for your first month! That’s a 50% discount off the regular rate, and this offer won’t last long. Upgrade today and start enjoying Premium benefits at our lowest-ever monthly rate.

Up until now, these offers have applied to the Quarterly billing plan, where the 50% discount is applied to the first quarter’s billing, reducing it from $22.50 to $11.25 (excluding VAT, where applicable). However, this time the discount applies to the Monthly billing scheme, as the notes at the end of the blog post further confirm.

Quite why the switch has been made is unclear; while I’ve never myself been convinced as to how well-received these offers are (that’s purely supposition, without any basis on fact), I’d say that the Quarterly plan discount represents a more appealing offer than just cutting the first month’s fee. Perhaps the Lab were finding that even with the first quarter’s bill cut by half, people weren’t overly enamoured with the offer, and are trying to mix things up a little. If so, I’d venture to suggest perhaps offering two months on the reduced rate might be a tad more appealing.

But really, the problem with Premium membership is not so much how much it costs – but what it brings. For the majority of people who can otherwise enjoy and contribute to SL free of charge (emphasis intentional, as “free” doesn’t equate to “feeloading”, as  is sometimes made out to be the case), Premium membership really isn’t that attractive. Hence why the Lab have in the past tried to spice it up with gifts. The problem here is, as I’ve recently explored, actually coming up with a Premium package that does offer the kind of incentives that are likely to have really broad-based appeal among users actually isn’t that easy.

In the meantime, if you are a Basic member and are considering upgrading, might I offer some thoughts (as long in the tooth as they might be) as someone who has bounced from Premium to Basic and back again?