Paola’s Nudes: an homage to Helmut Newton at Nitroglobus

Nitroglobus Gallery: Nudes by Paola Mills

Now open through April and into May at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is Nudes, a themed series of images by Paola Mills, which stands as something of an homage to the late German-Australian photographer Helmut Newton.

For those unfamiliar with Newton, who is perhaps best remembered for his work from the 1970s through mid-1990s, I’ll let Brooke McCord provide an introduction:

Nobody has made quite the lasting impression on fashion imagery as Helmut Newton. Hired by French Vogue in the 1950s before being propelled to fame in the 1970s, Newton came to be renowned for his controversial scenarios, hypersexualised imagery and striking compositions. With elements of his work that linked to the themes of surrealism – an art movement dominant during his youth spent growing up in Berlin – Newton’s unadulterated love of beautiful and strong women saw him create images laden with heavy overtones of voyeurism, sadomasochism and fetishism.

Brooke McCord, Your ultimate guide to Helmut Newton, Dazed, 2016

Nitroglobus Gallery: Paola Mills

In particular, Newton is p[erhaps best known for two classical collections of photography, White Women (1976) and Big Nudes (1981), which together with 1978’s Sleepless Nights, often form a triptych of themes for retrospectives of his unique style of photography.

For Nudes, Paola states she draws inspiration from, and pays something of a tribute to, Big Nudes, although I would perhaps argue that some of the pieces here also reflect (and contrast with) Newton’s White Women as well. As noted, both have come to be regarded as classical works by Newton; White Women due to its mixture of aesthetics, technical perfection and bourgeois decadence laced with dark elegance and eerie abstract s/m trappings to present what was regarded as a pinnacle of erotic photography.

Big Nudes, however, eschewed all of the trappings found within White Women. Instead, for this series of black-and-white photos, produced between 1979 and 1981, Newton took a stylistic change, the elaborate layouts with their tones of decadence discarded in favour of a full-on unambiguously formulated approach that took pride in female nakedness, and its power therein.

Nitroglobus Gallery: Paola Mills

This latter aspect is very much in evidence within Paola’s images, which also offer a contrast to Big Nudes with their use of skin tone and backdrop; they thus present almost an inverse mirror to Newton’s originals. And like Newton’s Big Nudes, Paola’s images speak to both the vulnerability and strength of the female body. But within some of them as well are echoes of White Women: a delicate and nuanced sensuality which, when combined with camera angle and backdrop – the plainness of the latter notwithstanding – offer echo elements of Newton’s 1976 collection. Not that Paola is intending to titillate through these images, a point she makes in the notes accompanying the exhibition, after she gives credit to Newton for his work:

Much more modestly I wanted to represent the nakedness of an avatar in all its erotic charge. I don’t want to tickle the sexual instincts nor excite the minds, but only convey to my avatars the human sensitivity that guides them in the metaverse.

– Paola Mills, describing Nudes

Nitroglobus Gallery: Paola Mills

But just because there is something of a voyeuristic / erotic aspect to some, of the images in Nudes should not be seen in any way as a failure on Paola’s part to achieve her stated goal. Rather, it speaks to the success in presenting the full complexity of human sensitivity – both within the images themselves and our reaction to them.

Nudes officially opens on Sunday, March 31st, 2019 with a party at 12:00 noon SLT, and will run through the month and into May. However, those wishing to see the exhibition ahead of the launch can do so now.

SLurl Details

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2019 SL User Groups 13/2: Content Creation summary

On The Other Side; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrOn The Other Sideblog post

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, March 28th 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies as well as system avatars. This involves viewer and server-side changes, including updating the baking service to support 1024×1024 textures, but does not include normal or specular map support, as these are not part of the existing Bake Service, nor are they recognised as system wearables. Adding materials support may be considered in the future.

Resources

Current Status

  • As noted in my Simulator User Group update, the Bakes on Mesh viewer has reached release candidate status with version 6.1.1.525409.
  • Depending on feedback from QA, this could mean Bakes on Mesh is fairly close to promotion to release status.
  • However, alongside of this work, the Bakes on Mesh reference textures have had to be re-uploaded, and thus have new UUIDs.
    • This means any test content (such as the test Omega system) using these textures will have to be updated in order to work with the RC viewer.
    • The new UUIDs have – at the time of writing – yet to be updated on the Bakes on Mesh wiki pages.
    • There are also LSL constants for the new UUIDs, but LL don’t currently have a simulator update for these yet, so if you try to set LSL to try to set textures to the appropriate channels they won’t currently work as expected.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

Due to performance issues, the initial implementation of EEP will not include certain atmospherics such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”).

Resources

Current Status

  • Work is continuing to resolve some shader issues that see “certain things shading differently”.
  • It has been noticed that EEP can also impact frame rates, and the Lab is trying to quantify these better.
  • A further RC build of the viewer is in the wings, but has some issues with it (e.g. issues with handling projected lights) which need to be addressed. However, it is hoped this will surface in week #14 (commencing Monday, April 1st, 2019).

Reminder: the EEP simulator code is now grid-wide. This means certain render feature – such as the stars – appear to be “broken” on non-EEP viewers (e.g. black “stars” can appear in daytime skies as square blotches, and at night white stars appear decidedly square. This is because the sky (including the stars) is rendered differently with EEP, but an attempt is made to convert things like stars back to a windlight setting for rendering by non-EEP viewers, which doesn’t entirely work.

This issue will obviously be fixed when the EEP viewer code is available in all viewers.

Animesh Follow-On

Vir has commenced work on LSL support for Animesh objects. Right now this involves providing a means to get the number of animated attachment slots, the number of open slots.

Other Items

Animation Optimisations

It’s been noted that .bvh animations go through an optimisation process, but .anim animations do not (a past subject of discussion in CCUG meetings). It would make sense for the optimisations to be applied to both, if they are of benefit, or ignored by both if they are not proving beneficial. It’s been suggested that the optimisations result in .bvh animations being a little less fluid than .anims.

Thus far the Lab hasn’t acted on this, as the general feeling has been that most animators favour one of the formats over the other. Those noticing specific differences in performance between the two are asked to file a Jira and attach test versions of both formats so the Lab can do side-by-side comparisons.

Custom Pivot Points

This was another point of past discussion. Initial work has been done to allow custom pivot points within the viewer, but the current blocker is that it requires simulator support, specifically with the physics shapes that have to be generated. With everything else going on at the moment, there is no time frame as to if / when this work might be carried out.

Date of Next Meeting

Thursday, April 11th, 2019.