A cute place

I, penguin: Ricco Saenz flying around D-Lab

I, penguin: Ricco Saenz flying around D-Lab

I don’t know much about the Japanese culture, and I know less about Japanese aesthetics. Still, I’m going to risk and state that D-Lab store in Second Life and its sim have a lot to do with the kawaii trend, under some steampunk influence.

Notice that I’m not implying that the owner of D-Lab, dazai Voom, had it in mind, himself (though it may be). What I’m saying is that I see both kawaii and steampunk plastic elements in the sim. Let me explain what I mean.

D-Lab: cute with gadgets

D-Lab: cute with gadgets

The term kawaii is often translated to English as cute. Some – or many – argue that, in kawaii productions, cuteness take precedence over the more traditional, “high art” ideals of beauty (and I’m referring to beauty here as the subject that has been theorized by a long tradition in philosophy, from Plato to contemporary thinkers and including Thomas Aquinas, Baumgarten, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, McLuhan, Adorno, Malraux, Lyotard and many others). In this perspective, cuteness is less contemplative and more pathological, in the Kantian sense (linking to the object and the desire to consume it, producing pleasure in contrast with delight).

Yes, there is some value judgement in such a description, but let’s try to detach ourselves from it: the D-Lab objects and decoration are cute – pleasant in a certain way, not exactly delightful, but producing some tender affection which has a lot to do with their childish look (again, let’s try not to add any value judgement to the idea of “childish look”, it’s just a description).

The cute giant panda sitting in front of the store

The cute giant panda sitting in front of the store

Not only the D-Lab objects for sale, but the whole store and the sim decoration around it draw on the idea of cuteness. And in some cases they cleverly merge it with certain steampunk elements. The link between some aspects of steampunk aesthetics and cuteness has been repeatedly noticed and the store at Poecila, in SL, is a very good example of it.

Some steampunk influence: the propeller

Some steampunk influence: the propeller

If cuteness borrows some traits from children’s universe (including children’s body proportion), the steampunk gadgets also relate to some infant-like features. Thinking of some boys’ toys with their engines, we can say that steampunk machines may be thought of as boys’ toys for adults.

The airship at Poecila

The airship at Poecila

So, transforming some steampunk engines in cute machines is not at all “out of place”. That’s what D-Lab does – for instance, with the propeller that keeps the store floating or with the airship that can be seen on the sim.

The penguin goes to the bakery

The penguin goes to the bakery

For all that, even if you are not buying anything there (well, I did, and my penguin avatar that you see on this post’s pics comes from dazai Voom’s store) D-Lab is still an interesting place to visit. Another wonder that SL makes possible.

Tenda Verde at the D-Lab sim

Tenda Verde at the D-Lab sim

P.S.: It took me a while to produce a new post after the one on Arles because I did have some really busy time in the atomic world (or rl, if you prefer). Now, it will take another extended period until I can post again, for, now that things are calmer, I am going to take my well-deserved vacation. I wish everyone an amazing Christmas time and a happy new year. See you in 2013.

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3 thoughts on “A cute place

  1. I absolutely love your artwork, yes your pictures are so inspirational to me. I’ve always been into Japanese culture, but I’ve never explored the Kawaii side of life. I thought it was for someone maybe younger than myself. =) Can’t wait to see more of your beautiful pictures.

  2. Thank you very, very much, kimiaya. I feel really honored by your compliments and they are certainly a very good incentive. I’ll do my best, I promise, to keep improving and maybe some day get a bit closer to the amazing photographers we have seen in SL.

  3. Pingback: Under the sheltering sky | Second Sighting

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