May 112010

While I personally have little interest in virtual BDSM, it does merit study as an aspect of the history, as an example of creating shared fantasy worlds. There’s a new academic paper studying this particular sub-subculture, Topping from the Viewfinder: The Visual Language of Virtual BDSM Photographs in Second Life” by Shaowen Bardzell.

From the abstract:

Photographs were sampled from thousands of user profiles of Second Life users who explicitly associate themselves with one or more BDSM communities or groups. Using visual analysis and social semiotics, I describe the visual language of these images, and with them, the grammar and symbolism of power and submission, of individual and institution, and of photographer and viewer.

Complete text, PDF

(Via BoingBoing)