Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Nayika as the lovers of all creature

Anonymous, The Nayika as the lovers of all creatures, 18th century

I couldn't find any precise information about this intriguing Indian picture. I like erotic Indian art a lot for its portrayals of joyous sensuality and this picture is no exception, it looks like a tongue-in-cheek celebration of lust as a basic animal instinct which drives all of nature. The anatomical correctness of most genitals and mating positions only adds to the good-natured humor of the scene.

I have to wonder why all the humans are women though (there is even a lesbian couple on the left) and why they are juxtaposed to images of animals couples. Nayika can be roughly translated as "heroine" or "woman archetype". I'm not familiar with critical readings of Indian art, but I would especially like to know whether it was meant to be just an enticing piece or some sort of satyrical picture denouncing women's lust. If this were Western art from the same time period the latter would certainly be the most likely reading since even the most sexually explicit art hasn't been safe from moralism or cultural propaganda in past Western history.

In the absence of specific information I'd rather think this image isn't meant to debase women though. Celebrations of fertility and female sexuality hold an important role in Indian culture (although unfortunately real life sexual freedom is another matter), and so do animals and oddities of nature, so it's not surprising that it would produce artistic depictions of lust crossing all barriers and cast in a positive light such as this one.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Digitigrade leg designs from the past

William Bouguereau, Nymphs and a satyr, 1873

Bouguereau cared for composition above all else. This satyr’s legs here are like transplanted chamois legs and look kind of believable in the still image, even though they would probably look unnatural in motion. The fur coat starting halfway down the thigh also feels contrived to me (nice excuse to show the satyr's fully human buttocks!) but aesthetically it certainly works.

Elihu Vedder, Marsyas Enchanting the Hares, 1899

The legs portrayed in this picture are easy to the eye and give a good outline and balance to the satyr’s figure, but they don’t make sense from the anatomical point of view. The calves look like they have no volume and are somehow fused with the thigh. The shaggy fur isn’t enough to conceal the inconsistency, but the legs aren’t really a focal point of the picture so it’s the overall impression that matters. The figure’s outline is very similar to a common hieroglyph depicting a sitting woman, I suspect it is an actual quotation:

I run into the above problem all the time - I have a nice pose in mind but it would force the legs to bend in impossible ways. I used to try all sort of weird leg designs to keep the anatomy as consistent as I could but ultimately I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. In most cases I’d rather use a leg design which feels balanced and has a good outline even if it’s anatomically impossible.

Even though I study my fair share of anatomy I'm not veterinarian and designing a truly consistent model would require also require the kind of 3D simulations used for big budget games and movies. In fact there are some cool digitigrade designs in games and movies (the minotaurs of Narnia come to mind) but I can't remember any instance of them exploring the full extent of the mobility which an anthro body with digitigrade legs could have, probably beacuse it's not required by the media. For them creating believable walk/run cycles is the most important thing. On the other hand a lot of anthro art is still pictures of nudes and sex scenes in which the nuances of what a limb can or cannot do are more relevant.

Carlos Schwabe, The Afternoon of a Faun, 1923

Same leg design as Bouguereau. Here the weird leg anatomy is exploited well for dramatic effect, they are supposed to look uncanny. A human in the same pose would look awkward rather than impressive.

Unknown artist, Pan and Daphnis, III-II century BC

This is one of the most believable designs I could find in ancient art and it’s similar to what is expected of realistic anthro art today. The thighs actually look like they are part human and part animal, and the legs seem to bend just like goat legs. They are also shorter than human legs compared to the torso, which would give Pan a low center of mass helping with balance (balance being the biggest issue with the idea of bipedal digitigrade legs).

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cool performances

Three videos showing the great potential of anthropomorphic costumes.

I’m especially enthralled by this one with the faun, both the costume/makeup and the acting are great with just the right degree of uncanniness. It gave me chills just looking at the video… seeing the performance in real life has to be quite an experience. As simple as it may be, this is real performance art.

Embedding disabled - follow the link to watch:

Quadruped costumes are very difficult to design and wear properly if they are to imitate the actual walking motions of the animal. The crafter(s) and performer did a great job here.

Fursuits are on the brink of becoming mainstream fashionable items now and are considered more and more the defining element of the furry fandom, but can the furry fandom achieve anything close to this level of performance? Something which can be fun and moving for a general audience instead of the mere inside joke it is in most cases? Not everybody has to be a professional performer of course, but I feel there is something amiss with the way fursuits are used in the fandom.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Ancient erotic art from Peru

The Larco Museum in Lima (Peru) hosted an ancient erotic art exhibit back in 2011. Interestingly some of the pieces on display featured mating animals such as jaguars and llama with slight anthropomorphic features and expressions. The funniest one has to be the mice jug:

These look like rodents too, but the top one's arm are very humanlike:

They blend pretty well among the human sculptures displaying similar poses and attitudes. More sculptures from the exhibit can be seen on a visitor's website and through Google Images.