Ordinary People : Street Photography in the Virtual World

Melusina Parkin presents a fascinating street photography project in the virtual world at the Vibes Art Gallery using the mesh figurines populating many regions of Second Life as subjects.

Street photography is a genre from RL that has hardly ever been brought over to SL. An argument can be made that perhaps the candid emotions and gestures which drive the narrative of the photograph in RL are hard to replicate in SL. However, in her latest exhibition at the Vibes Art Gallery, Melusina Parkin has come up with an interesting way to bring the magic and charm of street photography to the Second Life virtual world.

The Vibes Art Gallery comprises of three exhibition spaces, which have all been occupied by Melusina’s incredible photography. While RL street photography is perhaps the most candid form of photography that exists, in SL, finding the right places to shoot is a big task much like finding a needle in a haystack. The next challenge presents itself in the form of composition. Melusina does this beautifully, her trained photographers’ eye seeking out the perfect angles and framing to enhance the subjects in the image.

Ordinary People” by Melusina Parkin – Vibes Art Gallery

The subject of photography varies from image to image – from tourists taking in the sights of the city to pedestrians crossing the street, presumably on their way to work, Melusina captures it all in her frame. Out of the three exhibition spaces at Vibes, the work housed in Theatres 7 and 8 has all been created in grayscale while the work in Theatre 9 makes use of mostly soft pastels, which are often seen often in Melu’s work.

While many photographs depict a complete scene, Melusina prefers to get up close to her subjects in some of them, sometimes even focusing on a specific body part or a prop. This is one of the perks of street photography in SL; in RL, one could do such a thing only with the risk of being labelled “creepy“. It is worth noting that none of the figures used in Melu’s work are not actual avatars but are instead the “mesh puppets” we often meet at various places in SL. These figurines can be seen all aroudn this exhibition as well.

Ordinary People” by Melusina Parkin – Vibes Art Gallery

In a way, this is Melusina’s tribute to this silent populace that inhabits many regions of Second Life. Through her exhibition, she has successfully managed to infuse expression and character into these pixelated beings with the use of the perfect framing and creating scenes that seem to be straight out of reality. This makes it extremely easy for the viewer to relate with the images as most of us have witnessed these scenes (or some version of them) in our day-to-day lives.

While this can be viewed as an exhibition, for beginners to photography, this is also an excellent study of composition and lighting. In some cases, Melusina uses the same exact scene but photographs it in different ways to produce completely different effects. One example is seen in Theater 9 on the western wall, where the simple subject of a man reading a newspaper as a cigarette burns in the ashtray kept next to him has been photographed using different framings and angles to focus on different aspects of the scene.

Ordinary People” by Melusina Parkin – Vibes Art Gallery

Ordinary People” by Melusina Parkin also marks her return to the Second Life art world from a short break away. A unique presentation of street photography in the virtual world, this exhibition is one which can be enjoyed by all lovers of good photography and can also act as a learning experience for beginners.

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