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Saturday, October 10, 2015


Images provided by Yoko Ireto
Yoko Ireto is a Second Life artist who seems to linger in the neon haze of cyber space where she creates moody shadowy images that intrigue the eye and causes the mind to wander into a sensual world that is both glamorous and crude, avant garde and ancient, and most of all, very lewd in it’s conduct. I had the good fortune to interview Yoko Ireto and found the artist to be very open and revealing in discussing the techniques involved in creating these images.

Dean : What initially attracted you to Second Life?

Yoko : Curiosity. The idea of a virtual world in which real people live their fantasies behind masks, and where everything seen is the product of someone's imagination and (sometimes hard) work. It has not changed much since, though I have matured and evolved in my character.

Dean : Are you involved in visual arts in real life? If so would you like to discuss your real life experience as an artist?

Yoko : Not at all. I am hopeless with a paintbrush or a pencil. I do like photography though and have been doing so for decades I do also love art in RL, and buy a lot of paintings, sculptures and other artifacts do decorate my interior - often from local artists when I do some traveling. I have been brought up in a very open, "cultural" and diverse environment.

Sunlight Images provided by Yoko Ireto

Dean : When viewing images titled "Sunlight" , "Bamboos" 1 and 2 , "Beau" , "Water Dragon 3" and "New Collins Land Party 4" I was very impressed by your use of shadows and shallow focus. Do you accomplish this inworld or do you use photoshop or is it a combination of both? Could you describe in detail your process?

Yoko : I try to do as much as I can inworld. Create the poses - although I love to work with poses from a select number of talented creators as well - make my own props, create my lighting, using both local lights and custom Windlight. Some shots can take days to be finalized, and sometimes about 40 or 50 shots to get the one... I pick the best angle / lighting to "hide" all the SL glitches inworld so that I have very little work to do in editing... roughly, what we used to do when processing our films... adjusting contrast and colors... That's when I work in a controlled environment, or studio. "Live" shots are a bit more challenging. I often use the "freeze frame" feature to get them right, but lighting is harder to work with, especially in indoor places. Regardless, I always work with the graphics settings on the highest level, and customize shadows, glow, depth of field, etc... a lot to suit the situation. The photo tools in Firestorm are just great for that.

The selection of pics you gave as examples is interesting. Sunlight, bamboos and Water dragon are studio work and were really simple and straight forward to make. Very little editing, and not a huge work on lighting either. Fast and easy "mood shots". Beau is a commissioned work, studio as well. I took more time for the lighting and props, but the pose was included in the furniture I used. All the shadows and glow / glare are inworld. New collins land party is part of a series of live shots at an opening party. The outdoor setting and the colorful environment helped a lot. I edited the colors mostly, but the bulk of it happened inworld. The editing tool I work with is the Gimp.

Body Art 10 Images provided by Yoko Ireto

Dean : Your work features a lot of nudity including close ups of female genitals such as "Courbet". One of your images, "Body Art 10" appears to feature a headless nude woman who appears to be bending backwards. "Femmes fatales" 1 and 2 feature a nude woman brandishing weapons. Are you making a statement with your depiction of nudes?

Yoko : *laughs warmly reading the question* Yes there probably are many statements and understatements in all my work. But the main thing is not what I state, it is what people feel when visualising, and how it appeals to each individual. Although, I mainly work for myself, my creativity being like a "high pressure valve" - but I do appreciate that others like to see my work and I am always humbled and grateful for it.
Here is a little background for these pieces that you cited as examples.
Courbet is part of a series that I made, reproducing real famous paintings. Degas, Boucher, Courbet to name a few. I wanted to learn from these geniuses. The challenge was to recreate the poses and understand their vision, but then, give the artwork my own touch. Courbet - L'Origine du monde - which represents a close up of a woman's genitals as the cradle of human kind, was very controversial at the time. And the pose itself, a real challenge with the SL avatar. Especially these avatars before our beautiful mesh ones of today!
Body Art 10 is a "live" shot. The woman has a head - I do not venture into morbid territories -  but I think the impact is always stronger when the model is not "personalized". This picture is also a very personal and "intimate" one. Body art - in all its forms - is something that I work on a lot. We are all beautiful through the eyes of the ones that love us, and despite the BDSM nature of some of these works, I guess one statement is that we can be a beautiful piece of art in someone else's eyes. Body and mind of course.
The series "Femme Fatale" was just a bit of fun for me but yes, the message is pretty obvious, although I have to admit that it was a bit "clumsy".

Images provided by Yoko Ireto

Dean : Is there anything you would like people to know about you or your art?

Yoko : I think I have already stated a lot! Briefly, I am a simple and approachable person, and always happy to share and talk about what I do without taking myself too seriously... and I love to understand what others do in SL as well!
My "art" is simply a way for me to let out some of the many things that boil inside me... I came to it just reflecting on a phrase of one of my SL "mentors", a dear friend of my early days here: "you need to have a purpose in SL...". I think I found it.
Oh, and I am always looking for *serious* models - males preferably as they are shyer and scarcer!

Visit the following link to see more examples of Yoko Ireto’s work


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