The appeal of Dido’s greyscale Nudes in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Nudospective

Since co-launching the original Nitroglobus Gallery and, over the last several years, Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, photographer-artist Dido Haas has established a well-deserved reputation for curating one of Second Life’s most engaging galleries for art in Second Life. Month on month she brings out the very best in the artists she invites to exhibit within the gallery’s halls, resulting in perhaps the most consistently enthralling series of art displays each and every year, hence why I attempt to cover the gallery as fully as possible through the year.

However, there is a drawback to all of this: such is the amount of work involved in managing and curating the gallery, Dido’s skills as a photographer-artist rarely get to be seen in-world, and this is a shame, as her work is the equal of any of those she invites to exhibit at the gallery. Hence why, when she drops a note about presenting a (possibly short-term) exhibition of her work in the Nitroglobus Roof Gallery Annex, I’m scooting across to take a look.

Nudospective, as the name implies, is something of a “retrospective” in a much as it comprises a set of images Dido has produced over time. It is also, again as suggested by the title, utilises nudity as a linking theme. As such, this is an exhibition that might best be considered NSFW when viewing.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Nudospective

My love of Dido’s photography lies in several elements. First, she tends to work predominantly in black-and-white or greyscale or with a monochrome lean. Secondly, she specialises in avatar studies and thirdly – and most importantly – she has the ability to communicate so much through her work simply through the use of angle, pose, and focus rather than relaying on excessive props or post-processing.

This is very much in evidence within Nudospective; mostly presented in greyscale, these are pieces which – although utilising nudity – are not in any way directly sexual or voyeuristic. Rather, they are elegant narratives on the beauty of the female form as visualised through the medium of a virtual avatar, some of which offer what might be considered a subtle commentary on the subtleties of beauty compared to the expectations of beauty.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Nudospective

Take, for example, Legs. It features what is all too frequently a tool of heightened (literally and metaphorically) sexualised beauty: the high heel. But is it the heels that give the legs image their inherent form and beauty, or is it their muscle tone, angle and placement – all of which could be present sans the heels? Similarly, in Freckles alongside of it, is it really the firmness and curve of a breast – again so often seen as an expression of sexuality – really as worthy of our attention as a mark of beauty as much as the simple patina of freckles over the flesh of an upper arm and shoulder?

Across the hall, and a little conversely, Belly Piercing comes from another direction entirely. Within it sits a duality of innocence pointing towards a certain sexuality. On the one hand, it offers a natural statement on the beauty of a body piercing, whilst on the other the ball of the pearl, sitting on the cusp of the navel and the play of shadow within it offers a suggestion of focal point of female sexual pleasure.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Nudospective

Beautiful executed individually, taken collectively, Nudospective forms an engaging, easy-to-appreciate exhibition of photography which potentially has a lot to say.

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Dido’s Fade to Grey in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Fade to Grey

It was back to Dido Haas’s Nitroglobus Roof Gallery for me for the second of the May / June exhibitions on offer there. Fade to Grey, offered within Dido’s space at the gallery is an exhibition of Dido’s own images, all of which have been rendered as monochrome pieces, with some additionally post-processed to give the impression of drawings.

Dido is perhaps best known for her curation of Nitroglobus Roof gallery where – as I’ve oft stated in these pages – she is able to encourage artists from across Second Life to present exceptional exhibitions of their art. She is also, again as I’ve noted, a gifted photographer-artist herself. What may be less well known is that she is a blogger and Second Life traveller.

Since July 2009 I put a lot of my SL time in writing for my blog ‘Exploring SL with Dido‘, however the emphasize shifted more and more from text to images. In line with this I started to place my best blog images and more private photos in my Flickr account … Being so busy with curating the gallery, I have little time left to make images myself … But sometimes when I am in the right mood I do make images, most of them black/white. 

– Dido Haas


The eight images reflect Dido’s talent for black-and-white images and her love of exploration. They have been captured in various regions around Second Life, including Furillen, Quoted Memories and AEAEA islands. However, seven of the images are all very much studies in narrative, the focus being both Dido herself, and the embodiment of mood and emotion, while the eighth is presented as a self-portrait, finished as a drawing, an arm stretched forward as if in greeting / encouragement. All of them together offer an invitation for us to step into Dido’s Second Life and share in both her artistic view of our digital world and in her personal time in-world.

Small in size, intimate in content, Fade to Grey is a warm exhibition that can be enjoyed for itself – and for those who might like to, Dido suggests viewing the exhibition whilst listening to the most successful single released by British synth-pop group Visage, and which has the same name as the exhibition (and, as it was originally written as an instrumental piece, there’s also this version, if you prefer).

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Fade to Grey

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Dido’s Minimal art in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Minimal

Dido Haas has slipped back into the smaller exhibition hall of her Nitroglobus Roof Gallery – a place I’ve taken to calling “Dido’s Space”, as it was used to be reserved for her personal art selections prior to her offering it as a space other artists might use. On display is a selection of eight images Dido is exhibiting under the title of Minimal.

All of the images are, as Dido notes herself, a step away from her usual style of work on a number of levels. Noted for her elegant, posed avatar studies and art that offers a clear narrative or sentiment to entice the audience into it, Dido’s work also tends to carry with it a delicate hand with post-processing to offer works that are richly finished in terms of their photogenic depth.

With this selection, however, Dido present pieces that are lighter in the touch of post-processing (if used at all) that is minimal in its finish, thus giving us the first reflection of the exhibition’s title. Further reflections of the theme are found in the way each piece is minimal in terms of its setting and framing, together with the fact that the props, etc. used by Dido all come by way of the Minimal in-world brand. Finally, there is the placement of Dido’s avatar; for those of us familiar with her exceptional still life and avatar studies, the majority of the pieces within Minimal reduce her avatar’s presence to a minimum, encouraging use to consider the scene as a whole.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Minimal

And this is where the final take on the idea of the “minimal” theme can be found: each and every piece is of such a nominal nature that, a Dido herself states:

The images … depict several scenes which make you wonder ‘what is happening there’? Use your imagination and make up your own story. 

In other words, these are pieces framed without overt commentary by the artists (other than the title), leaving the audience totally free to consider each piece, thus making them pictures that should be viewed as much by our imaginations as they should be by the eye of arts appreciation.

Take Telephone Booth for example – what brought the woman to the public telephone? Is it an innocent chain of events – such as being in a remote coastal area where cell ‘phone coverage is poor; or is due to more clandestine reasons – such as trying to avoid any record of the call appearing on her ‘phones records? Is her call to a loved one or is there something more to the call? Indeed, is she even making a call – or was it chance that she was passing when the ‘phone oddly rang; or is she even interested in it at all? It sits on the hook, and her attitude suggests she has no interest in it. Is the booth a means of escape, a place to hide  – and if so, from whom or what?  So many potentials for what may have happened  – or what may follow, as each image need not be the end of its narrative, but the beginning or even the middle.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Minimal

Intriguing and cosy in size, Minimal is an engaging experiment by Dido, one that exposes a different side to her work, one I certainly hope to see more of.


Dido’s One Day: a visual sonnet in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery – Dido Haas: One Day, September 2021

Dido Haas is taking a break from Second Life to enjoy a well-deserved vacation in the physical world, and in reflection of this, Nitroglobus Roof Gallery is taking a break from displaying the work of other artists in the main hall. Which is not to say it is empty: for September sees the hall host an exhibition of images by Dido herself, and quite marvellous it is!

One Day presents fourteen pieces framed around Amoretti LXXV, the 75th sonnet in a cycle of 89 written by English poet Edmund Spenser, a contemporary of William Shakespeare, relating his courtship of the well-off and beautiful Elizabeth Boyle. It is perhaps the most well-known of the cycle (itself a much overlooked collection when compared to his allegorical The Faerie Queen), opening with the line One day I wrote her name upon the strand (sand).

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery – Dido Haas: One Day, September 2021

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
‘Vain man,’ said she, ‘that dost in vain assay,
A mortal thing so to immortalize;
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise.’
‘Not so,’ (quod I); ‘let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name:
Where whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.

Whilst breaking with the “tradition” of such works being about an unattainable love, the subject invariably already being married and thus beyond reach (Elizabeth Boyle was single, and she married Spenser in June 1594), this is a sonnet heavy in typical Elizabethan themes / conceits: the worshipping of beauty, the idea of immortalising that beauty (aka her name) through words (despite her honest rebuttal of said claims in her recognition that her beauty and name are doomed to fade and eventually fade with death), the promise, nevertheless of bringing her immortality by doing so, and so on; and these themes are richly reflected within Dido’s One Day.

The modern equivalent of immortalising a name and its associated beauty in word and sonnet, is via the photograph. Thus within this selection we have images with focus on Dido’s avatar – thus Writing her name”. These have a subtle eloquence in their suggestion of what makes a woman memorable to society: : her looks, her make-up, her clothing., a moment captured unexpectedly. Within these images are further layers I’ll come back to in a moment.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery – Dido Haas: One Day, September 2021

Also to the found are several images of Dido on the beach. These are most clearly a reference / link to the opening line of the sonnet. But rather than being a simple hook on which to hang this exhibition, they also speak to something deeper within Amoretti LXXV. Elizabethan poets – Spenser included – waxed lyrical about “immortalising” their loved one’s name in writing – but invariably (and for assorted reasons) never actually use the name itself, instead leaving the reader with mere hints. Within Dido’s beach images we see this reflected in the way that we do not get a clear view of her face (her “name”, so to speak), but are left with hints thanks to the fall of hair, or distance of camera to subject, or that actual position of the camera relative to the subject, or the positioning of a parasol or seat, etc.

Elizabethan sonnets can be marked for the conceit of placing mortal love (oft bound with lust – itself perfectly presented in One Day 13) on a par with heavenly (virtuous) love. In Amoretti LXXV, Spenser in part touches upon this, proclaiming their love (and her beauty) is the kind of lover that shall continue after death (Where whenas death shall all the world subdue / Our love shall live, and later life renew.). Dido poignantly reflects this idea of beauty transcending to the heavens One Day 06 and One Day 07, both of which were captured at the fabulous Chouchou build of Memento Mori (see here for more on that stunning build).

The sestet in which Spenser makes his proclamation is a further extension of the central conceit within Elizabethan sonnets (at the end of the day, who is really being immortalised – subject or poet?). More particularly in this context, it comes after an attempt by his subject to rebuff him for his foolishness, noting that her beauty is but passing, and time and death will lead it to decay.

Whilst intended as a foil to allow Spenser his volta in to the sestet, Dido again captures the underpinning truth of the words uttered by Spenser’s love through those images depicting her avatar directly. The use of vivid red clothing One Day 14, One Day 12 and One Day 09, to draw the eye away from the face of her avatar, with One Day 14 and One Day 12 joining with One Day 08 to place her avatar off-centre. These positioning and use of colour thus causes the eye to shift focus away from the face – the name, if you will – of the subject, a visual metaphor for the passage of time dimming a woman’s beauty (and name). One Day 09 similarly presents this idea, but through the use of colour against monochrome, the bright red of the dress drawing attention away from the face (the “name”).

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery – Dido Haas: One Day, September 2021

So it is that One Day is a richly engaging exhibition. All of the images are marvellously presented and framed in their own right, each open to offering its own unique narrative, whilst together they offer an fascinating and layered visual interpretation of Amoretti LXXV. All of which makes the exhibition – which runs tough until the end of September-2021 – a display that should not be missed.

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