High Heels

NEW CALEDON, 30 May — With VB03 – Veniticinco Mujeres, our new, largest-to-date performance work, featuring “veinticinco mujeres” in high heels just a week away, it seems like the right moment to say a word about high heels. There’s much to say about heels in terms of culture and gender issues, but ATM I’d simply like to notice the “geometric effects” of heels.

Image from VB01 performance: close-up of many feet standing in 11" black patent stilettos
Cast of VB01 in 11″ stilettos by Viktoria von Brandenburg

The curious thing about heels in a virtual world like Second Life, is that they don’t change your entire body the way “real” heels do. Since “real” heels create an alternate body, you can decide for yourself if “real” heels are “real” or not, but in any case, virtual heels change:

  • Your overall height
  • Your feet point down
  • Something sexy is on your feet

In other words, the effect of virtual heels is seen exclusively below the ankle and at the top of your head. But IRL, it is between those two points that the most dramatic effects take place. As illustrated in The Sex Life of the Foot and Shoe, high heels reshape the entire body silhouette, accentuating all curves:

  • Calves
  • Buttocks
  • Upper Back

all extend behind more…

  • Thighs
  • Belly
  • Breasts

all extend forward more…
The entire body becomes more curvaceous.

In Vilayanur Ramachandran’s theory of “Peak Shift,” he describes how caricature, the art of exaggeration, can produce images of politicians and celebrities that are more like the subject than an actual photograph – because they over-emphasize the distinctive features.

Similarly the exaggerated curves of a body wearing heels make that body less male or more distinct from male, and therefore more female or hyper-female. Of course, in a virtual dance club you will find many hyper-female and hyper-male bodies that already exaggerate things like male biceps, female breasts, etc.


Vilayanur Ramachandran: Peak Shift

The Cast of VB03
• VB03 Rehearsal Images
• VB03 Cast & Venue Announcement

• VB03 Review: The News from Bardhaven
Cast Member Flickr Photos
Jenni’s Video
Forceme Silverspar’s Adventures in Second Life – VB03
Forceme Silverspar’s Adventures in Second Life – Living Art
Avatars & Web2.0 Tools

Mark Schwartz blog


Image of artwork. Style reminiscent of Warhol's blotted ink drawings, but with vibrant red color added. Image is of a high heel show and small cupid-like angel with bow and arrow aimed at shoe
After publishing this post I received an email with this image from shoe designer and Warhol progeny Mark Schwartz.
As a virtual public artist my work invites avatar communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

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