Rylsky Art
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Fred Comments

  • 1

Xenta's rather wonderful, isn't she? I particularly appreciated #43. Xenta brings such heart to it.

  • 3

Primissima, indeed. Dancers are always a delight, and Gladys is not only gorgeous, but poised, lithe, and graceful. And that smile!

  • 1

So good to see Melody again! That song was on my mind, too:

A pretty girl is like a melody
That haunts you night and day

But it's puzzling. I could swear I've heard the "lingers in your mind" line, and it certainly scans, but where did it come from? It wasn't in Irving Berlin's 1919 version, in "The Great Ziegfield," and it isn't in any version of the lyrics I can find online or on YouTube. (After Pat Boone I couldn't take any more, admittedly.) Do you know the source?

  • 0

Seeing Yvonne always reminds me of the joy in being alive. And her biography is wonderful.

  • 2

The set reminds me of something George C. Scott said about actors: "Third - and this is the quality that separates the great ones from the good ones - I look for a 'joy of performing' quality."

Ynesse has that quality. She's very beautiful, and could get by just being sultry, as she sometimes is. But what makes her really special is that mischief and joy that bubbles up as if it couldn't be contained, and makes what she does both sexy and fun.

Speaking of sexiness, I suppose this is an odd thing to comment on, but I really like that fine hair on Ynesse's abdomen, and the artful way she trims her hair further down so there's a clear line up to the navel and everything's clearly related. It's a subtly earthy touch on an elegant woman, and that line works well as a visual element. There's as much design in it as in a fine dress. And yeah, I like it that she's basically just being herself, too.

  • 1

The looks on Taini's face in #17 and #50 say it all, don't they? A lovely set in many ways, and thanks to everyone. Happy New Year!

  • 2

Loved this set. There's certainly beauty in a glamorous presentation, but unless there's the sense that there's a real woman underneath it, playing with appearances for her own reasons, it can be distant and unengaging, and too calculated. Here that whole layer of extra stuff isn't there, and it's intimate and unguarded in a way that just being naked isn't. The third photograph, for example, goes straight to your heart, and the sixteenth, and all the rest. Many thanks to Sybil!

  • 0

Yes, but slowly sometimes. In the interests of science, anyway, we need to be sure we're not just remembering the cases where we've thought it would be wonderful to see Vittoria again (say), and then did see her a day or two later, while forgetting those drab days when we wanted to see her but didn't.

How can Vittoria look so poised and elegant and so warm at the same time? This really calls for more investigation.

  • Fred
  • 10 months ago
  • 0

While I'd never claim that all photography should be black and white, good B&W reaches places that color ordinarily doesn't. This set seems to live equally well in both worlds.

  • Fred
  • 12 months ago
  • 1

An afterthought. It's Mila's life, and we should appreciate the opportunity to visit. It's not up to us to make judgments, any more than you would complain to someone about their taste in furniture after they've invited you into their home. Rather, it's a time when you should open yourself up to the world and let it surprise and delight you.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and there was a photograph in one of Mila's MA sets which said that a lot better. It was a close up of her tattoo. Since the tattoo is controversial, you might imagine that as a way of saying that you should take Mila for who she is and what she chooses for herself. But talk is cheap. The picture made the tattoo look interesting.

  • Fred
  • 12 months ago
  • 1

Well said.

  • 1

A really beautiful set, making wonderful use of color, while it feels like black and white photography underneath. And just when it looks as if it's going to get too classical, there's Clarice making a face! Well done.

  • 2

It's always a pleasure to see Quillian again. They're pictures, of course, not real personal contact, but she gives the sense that she's someone you'd like to know. I like the way she relies on relatively subtle changes in expression and trusts us to tune into it.

  • 1

It's such a pleasant surprise to see Vittoria again, and so good to see her looking so lovely and relaxed. She gives the sense that what is taking place is wonderful, a generous, loving exchange, and it really is.

  • 1

Fer, thanks for explaining (and for your honesty in talking about it). No one is ever going to convince anybody that something is erotic if they don't spontaneously find it so, of course, any more than you can make a joke funnier by talking about it. But it is interesting to discuss these things.

I hope my original point was clear, which is that this isn't my own cup of tea, but I'm happy that people who do like it are getting what they enjoy. (I had you in mind when I was writing, since you speak about this fairly often.) And, more selfishly, I'd find it stale to be stuck inside an environment purely of my own choosing, so, for example, I wouldn't have seen the nice things Casia does in this set. A friend of mine told me that her first assignment for a photography course consisted of walking around the city shooting pictures completely at random, without looking. She said the pictures she got that way were much more interesting than the ones she would have taken deliberately.

For myself, yes, development is important, but lingerie doesn't really play that role for me, and, after all, there are other kinds of clothes to take off. There are a lot of other approaches, and I think Rylsky could write a book on that. Other than Rylsky, Albert Varin comes to mind, and Natasha Schon, that sense that you're in the room with a real woman, and you're becoming extremely aware of her, and she of you. Varin's sets with Bretona build up in a very nice way over time, so you have the sense you're getting to know her better and better with each set before the sets become more purely erotic. I don't think you could really get that sense of a relationship in a single set. Similarly here at RA. Vittoria, or Kei, or Evita, for example, are wonderfully warm and expressive, and you get to know them through time, until you grow to love them a little.

Personally, I like to take people as they are, and I tend to find glamour artificial and not very nourishing, though it can be fun sometimes. I'm happier with clothes that are comfortable and natural, with all the associations that come with that, since, for example, it's wonderful to feel a woman's body through a t-shirt, or to reach under it as if it were a warm tent and touch her bare skin.

A lot of what's erotic is seen out of the corner of your eye, not while you're staring at it, for example when your girlfriend is busy doing something, and it puts you right in the mood. I think of a girlfriend I had in college, who was a virgin when we got together. She started wearing a thin blouse with nothing under it whenever we were in her dorm room, sort of college student's lingerie. I was charmed by the gesture, and liked it that she enjoyed doing it, but it didn't really work in the way she intended. It was too programmatic. You want the contrast between when you're thinking of sex and when you're not, and you can't be thinking of sex all the time, or it's so diluted it doesn't mean anything. Or, if it does mean something, it's obsessive, and it's about something else entirely.

That sense that you're relaxed with someone, that you're fascinated with her as a human being, in a walking down the street, everyday way -- that seeing her sitting in the kitchen, just being herself, eating an orange in her sweatshirt and her favorite jeans, is magic -- is what appeals to me most. That doesn't preclude teasing and display. But for me lingerie is usually an awkward bridge between the everyday and the erotic, a little depersonalizing, sort of an invitation to objectify at a time when you want to get close. For me it represents a gesture that's already been made, and an attempt to repackage something that was just fine as it was, thank you, so I tune out.

Obviously that's not the only way to look at it, and I wouldn't claim that's the only way I ever do myself. Nobody is just one thing, after all. I doubt we differ on anything fundamental, and anyway, de gustibus non est disputandum.

  • 1

It's true that it isn't for everyone. I deeply don't understand why lingerie is supposed to be interesting, and Evita Lima in a World Cup t-shirt is much more fun for me. But it's good that the world doesn't let you live in your own bubble, yes?

  • 2

I've ranted on this subject at length a couple of times on Met-Art, I'm afraid, not because ratings matter in themselves, but because someone is actually using something so empty to make decisions. It's unlikely it influenced anybody, so I should have stuck to basics. Clarice put it so much better than I did.

  • 0

There's something about Vittoria that makes you glad you're in the same world as her. That happy, relaxed, "Here I am" quality, the sense of warmth and generosity. She's very lovely and graceful, but even if she weren't, you'd feel good seeing her.

  • 2

Viva looks great in those glasses, doesn't she? It's almost cruel to stop with that last shot! :-)

These backstage sets are always a pleasure.

  • 3

Really enjoyed this. "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way," as Juan Ramón Jiménez said. Cher must be a lot of fun to be around.

  • 1

She really is, isn't she? Such a pleasure seeing a woman who's so poised and beautiful just having fun. Launs smiles, and you feel good about life.

  • 0

I keep a throwaway cell phone in the glove compartment of my car, which I got years ago because a friend of mine was pregnant and depending upon me to get her to the hospital. I never turn it on, and I don't even know the phone number, so yes, I'm a Luddite too. 2 out of 20 people in a population of 321,773,631. What are the odds?

  • 0

It's always a great pleasure to see Steffi again. Her confidence and poise, her lithe dancer's body, her lovely long hair, and, best of all, that brilliant smile on her beautiful face, as if she's showing you something wonderful -- as she is! -- and doing it out of love and delight.

  • 1

I loved the way the beginning of the set built up, slowly teasing, and then something like a jump cut to #7. It's something Rylsky likes to do, those eye-opening transitions, and it really works, at least if you step through the photos one by one instead of looking at the thumbnails.

Of course, I may be biased by the fact that #7 through #13 is a wonderful sequence of my favorite pose ...

Solana looks wonderful here, as always. The color of the dress was a nice touch; it's so rich it looks almost ceremonial in #33-#40, where the glossy surface isn't so apparent. And that look Solana gives in #48 would raise the dead.

  • 1

Melody is not only beautiful but incredibly alive, and her expressions seem to say that this is the most fun you could have without your clothes on. She's amazingly attractive.

  • 1

#41 is a wonderful photograph.

  • 2

And Jodie!

  • 2

If you only shot portraits of Jodie -- well, if you did, it would be a huge missed opportunity, but it would still be a real treat.

  • 1

Hi Nikia,

I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying this kind of blind date. From my own experience, it's not likely to be life-changing, but it can be quite pleasant, and it's not out of the question that you'll meet somebody you'll connect with.

Some time ago I knew a woman in a martial arts class who was starting a business as a matchmaker, so I filled out a questionnaire and she set me up with three potential matches. One dropped out after a phone call. The other two were interesting.

The first woman worked as a psychologist in a psych ward. She started off by showing me pictures of her cat, so at least I'd get that much out of the evening, she said. I didn't see it going anywhere, but we got along pretty well, and shared some of the same academic background. She started a game where she mentioned Hollywood movies having to do with characters with mental disorders and we were supposed to diagnose them. I guess this is the kind of thing psychiatrists talk about at parties. Not in my usual line of interests, but the evening was friendly and fun.

The second woman was divorced and had a small child. There was an instant connection, though I don't know how it would have worked out long term; I'm not very domestic, though I have a friend who isn't, either, and he's been married for fifty years. In any case, I was thinking of taking an assignment in a different country, and after a few dates we left it at that. We didn't know each other well enough at that point for me to change my plans, and she was a single mother. I can't say that I knew her long enough that this is a major regret, and who knows if anything would have happened if the timing had been different, anyway. Still, it's interesting to think of paths not taken.

  • 2

And that's why they call her Kira Joy! A wonder anything ever gets done at RA.

I always look forward to these videos. They're warm and cheerful, and give you the pleasant sense that you like somebody better because you've learned something about her. And they aren't just photo sets by other means -- they're films. They're about something, and stop before things get boring. You end up feeling good, as if something has gone exactly right.

  • 1

There are times when I think, "So Rylsky's decided to drop the nuclear bomb ..."

Xenni, or Kate, she's amazing! And we haven't seen nearly enough of her.

  • 1

Reminds me of Oscar Wilde's deathbed remark: "This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do."

  • 1

Loved Kei's expression in #6. Wonderful to see her again!

  • 0

I've had two girlfriends who had hair that long, and they were pretty relieved when they got it cut. It's high maintenance, and prone to accidents. Can't say that I didn't like it, though.

Mishel's a real stunner, isn't she? Hope we see much more of her.

  • 5

I guess it isn't really adding anything new to say wow. Wow, though.

  • 1

Really nice. Melody's very attractive, and the video's focused on her in a nice, relaxed way, not exploiting her, but rather giving the sense that she's sharing something she likes to do, and taking her time to experience things properly.

  • 5

It worked! Evita twirled around, and she came out as Wonder Woman. Then again, I think she was Wonder Woman to begin with, so it's hardly a controlled experiment. (This is a reference to an old television program that's so famous even I know about it, starring Lynda Carter.)

I'm always struck by how lively and beautiful Evita's face is, and today she cheered me right up.

  • 2

Possibly because the chocolate actually works pretty well, and the people who liked it didn't write in. Zelda plays off it very effectively, doesn't she? I don't think it's theoretically possible to be cuter than that.

  • 4

Just when I was missing Cecile, there she is, and very welcome, too. #46 is a wonderful picture. It's as if she'd taken a break from modeling and was just being herself, and it's a really lovely smile, the kind that would make you feel good for days if you saw it in real life.

  • 2

I've always thought Italian women were wonderful, and it's a pleasure to have Sade here, showing some of the reasons why. Such joy, such sensuality, such a sense of fun. She moves beautifully, and she really seems to enjoy being a girl, as the song goes. The video expresses that in a very nice way.

As for the length, opinions differ, clearly, but for me, it's just right. It gets in, makes its point very effectively, and gets out while things are still fresh. Any more would have dulled the edge.

  • 2

How good to see Vittoria again, particularly when she looks as happy to be there as we are to see her. And a very nice way to photograph her.

  • 1

That would be wonderful.

  • 1

Rina and Witta are both very attractive, and it was pleasantly sexy to see them together. But as well as that, they're both very likable, and it was refreshing to see them relaxing and having some fun. It leaves you feeling warm and good.

All of which doesn't sound very dramatic, but it gives me deep pleasure. This is the way things ought to be with two woman sets, a genuine interaction, whatever it turns out to be, nothing forced. Much more engaging than something imposed from outside. Well done all around.

  • 0

Qualey is always delightful, and I hope we'll see much more of her. The last two pictures in the set in particular have a happy, playful quality that's worth infinitely more than any amount of simulated passion. It's one of the things I like best about RA.

  • 2

Everything in this set comes together so well -- Evita, the dress, the setting. Evita looks soft, comfortable, and relaxed, and it's like spending a wonderful afternoon with your girlfriend, who teases you sometimes, in a light-hearted way.

It reminded me of one of my favorites, Mundial, where Evita wears that World Cup jersey. It brings out something playful and flirtatious in her, and focuses you more on how really beautiful she is in other ways. I almost put that on my list of favorite images, though, you know, it's nice when Evita doesn't cover up, too.

  • 1

I can't possibly narrow it down to five, so I'll cheat shamelessly and make it five videos and five photographs. So shoot me.

In no particular order, starting with videos:

- Janelle and Taissia, "Wanna." Why? If you've got to ask, you'll never know, as Louis Armstrong would say. Favorite image: Taissia driving Janelle mad, and gloating at the effect she's having.

- Vittoria Amada, "Mamecu." Vittoria looks so beautiful and graceful in this, but so open and real. Favorite image: Vittoria starting to make a dramatic entrance, and the gate's getting stuck, and her charming expression when it does. It sets the tone for the video -- warmth and a love for the way people actually are, as opposed to surfaces and chilly perfection. Vittoria, if anybody, could have stuck to looking perfect, and it's wonderful she hasn't.

- Rina, "Das Model." Rina ordinarily looks so serious in her photographs, and here she shows another side, girlish and happy. Favorite image: well, a lot, really, but especially Rina laughing, or the humorous, self-deprecating looks she gives sometimes.

- Sandra Lauver, "Kedvteles." I suppose it will sound odd, but one of my first thoughts was that some women worry about how their genitalia come across, and if they could only see this, they'd realize how beautiful they are. This is gorgeous. Favorite image: Sandra's flesh glistening like a jewel as she strokes it.

- Alexandra, "Club Life." This is ingenious and fun, but not only ingenious, because it brings out Alexandra's personality perfectly. It must have taken a lot of work to get right. Favorite image: any of the ones in which Alexandra is relating to herself.

Oops, no room left to mention Jeff's "Yes, I am!", or ...

As for photographs, it's impossible to choose five, and it would drive me crazy to be too considered about it, so I'll be completely arbitrary, and just list some nice images at random.

- Guerlain and Irina J, "Play Again" cover photograph. Guerlain's face as their hips touch really makes the photo, but it wouldn't work unless she had Irina's expression to play against. That in itself makes it sexier, because it shows their chemistry. I don't know how well the reference will translate, but in a way it reminds of the modern revivals of burlesque shows.

- Erica, "Gefirare," the cover photograph. The cover, but any of the rest of the set would do. I love black and white photography in itself, but this isn't B&W for its own sake, but a tool that's well chosen to bring out something about Erica. Here she projects the sense of a femme fatale: adult, irresistible, and probably dangerous to know, not that it's going to stop you.

- Any of the Backstage sets.

- Any of the photographs in which a woman relates to another woman who's outside the frame. They're imaginative and very sexy. (I don't, however, mean to exclude pictures where the other woman is inside the frame, such as "Softouch," which are always a treat.)

- The photograph used for Kei's first blog entry. There seems to be such incredible warmth between Kei and her photographer, and that's Kei in a nutshell: warm, intelligent, and generous.


I feel as if I've just completed one of Evita's questionnaires, and am about to learn what kind of personality I have. Hopefully not ... Though thinking of Evita reminds me of how very much you have to leave out when you make a list like this.

  • 2

I love this kind of playfulness, and, now that I think of it, I don't think I've seen it anywhere but at RA, and one or two Rylsky sets on Met-Art. Odd -- why shouldn't fun be more popular? I've heard it's really quite pleasant.

  • 2

More like "a small woman," I think -- Romance languages like to used adjectives to refer to entities they describe, for example "los pequenos," meaning "the little ones," that is, the children. Una Piccola is feminine, so that narrows it down. Sounds funny to me too, in any case, especially since I'd tend to read it another way.

I guess Una Piccola picked the name because she considers herself little, at 5'2" and 99 pounds. Actually, that makes her four inches taller than two of my old girlfriends, so I'm not sure I'd see it the same way. I remember walking down town with one of them and getting dirty looks, as if she was much too young, and it did look like that, since she had hair down to her hips and wore glasses. In fact, she was five years older than me, and was working on her Ph.D.

But Una Piccola by any other name would be just as wonderful! So pretty and positive, mischievous and full of life. Five minutes in the same room and you'd be moonstruck.

  • 1

A wonderful idea! Neil is a gentleman, and we all appreciate his warmth and enthusiasm.

  • 0

And in fact, I did choose this, and that was under the assumption that the rest of the photographs couldn't be as good as the cover. Very nice to be mistaken about that ... My favorite set so far this year, and that's with some very strong competition.

  • 2

Always a great pleasure to see Liv again. And it was rather nice how perfectly everything came together: Liv's sunny mood, the light, the setting, and the makeup. (I suppose there was a photographer involved somewhere, too.)

  • 1

A very welcome set, with Yolanda more in the role of artist's model than glamor model, and looking all the more interesting for it. #7 is a wonderful photograph.

  • 0

A great pleasure to see Margaux again. She is classically beautiful, a dancer, I would think, and fascinating. She seems meant to be be photographed outdoors, and this series is vivid and alive and suits her wonderfully. Settings are one of the real strengths of RA, and whoever locates them isn't being paid enough.

  • 1

Now that is why God created black and white photography. Beautiful, elegantly done, and admiring rather than exploitative.

  • 3

I love this kind of set. No high drama, no simulated passion, just the sort of thing you can actually relate to, something like a nice sexy afternoon with your girlfriend on a rainy day, where she happens to be the prettiest girl in town, and the sunniest.

  • 1

Gefifare gets the nod, for the black and white, and for the terrific photograph. I'm voting for a set, that is, not a model, because any man who went out of his way to choose among these wonderful women would not be not a gentleman (and because my parents didn't raise any dumb children).

These all look good. I hope that the last set won't appear TOO much later.

  • 1

I'm not a fan of cigarettes, but I'm not sure why those two pictures got such a negative reaction. Nikia's idea to do them was fun, and they come off well. And it isn't as if she's inhaling or exhaling smoke, after all. No models were harmed in the production of these still pictures.

It's always interesting when black and white and color versions of photographs are set next to each other this way. My response is usually that the black and white blows away the color completely, though each has its virtues. In this case, it's a closer call, which is unexpected, because smoke comes off so well in black and white. After all, that's one of the reasons cigarettes show up in the sort of glamour photography Nikia had in mind.

  • 1

There's something beautiful about the emotions that Vittoria projects in these pictures which strikes me as the way a wife or a long-term lover relates to you -- warm, relaxed, content. She's familiar with what you like and she knows how you respond to her, so her actions have a warmth and genuine intimacy that can only develop when two people have loved each other well.

The black background is perfect, and the lighting hits just the right note, not so bright that it comes across like a spotlight on a stage. Well done all around.

  • 1

That's exactly what this set evoked. As I looked at I was thinking "Yes, that's what it feels like to love a woman." Well, leaving out the rubber gloves, of course.

John Barth started off a novel by having the protagonist accidentally see himself in a mirror as he's having sex, and being overcome by the absurdity of it all -- how seriously he's taking it, and how silly it looks from the outside. And yes, we are absurd creatures. It's love that redeems us.

  • 2

Any woman who can do what Wendy does in Balleto has won my heart anyway, but she's particularly wonderful here -- relaxed, happy, and expressive. I love the way Wendy will take a really effective pose, and then roll her eyes at what she's just done. These videos are very good at capturing personality.

The red hair is a nice touch.

  • 0

Very, very nice. A pleasant sense of intimacy and langour, like a samba.

Looking at the camera in a two woman set can be distancing, since too often it seems meant to signify that the women are mostly relating to the viewer, not each other. Here it comes off as friendly, since you get the sense that Astrud and Ariana are into each other, and liked you well enough to let you watch. And I wouldn't have wanted to miss Astrud's smirk!

  • 1

You'd think that, as a psychologist, Evita would understand that she's driving us all crazy. And from her expressions, she surely does ... Very beautiful, self-assured, mischievous, and fun.

  • 1

Since everyone seems to be commenting on the subject, I hate pantyhose, period, and I'm pretty sure most women do, too, convenience aside. I think they're ugly and that they make a woman's skin smell stale, and I even dislike the sound they make. I haven't seen them for years, and had hoped I'd never see them again.

So tearing them up? Go for it, Sybil! Nothing became them in life like the leaving it, to quote Macbeth. Which is to say, the best part of their existence was when they got ripped up. And, in fact, I thought the shredding was sexy and fun, in a one-off kind of way.

  • 0

Unfortunately, I get an error when I try downloading. Looking forward to it, though.

  • 2

It's always a great delight to see Kei, and she's particularly lovely, relaxed, expressive, intelligent, and simply alive here.

I especially enjoyed #13. Kei's beautiful smile, together with Nedda in the background, put it into a nice context.

The pose itself is my own favorite, to address a question Kei asked a long time ago. It's partly because of associations.

When I was very young I read Playboy, and it was a mixed experience. I don't need to explain one side of it. The other side, though, was that at that age I was trying to learn about how the adult world worked, as well as what women looked like when they were naked, and this was strange stuff, rather infantile and chilly. A friend of mine in Sweden remarked recently that he'd seen a documentary on High Hefner and that Hefner had been half Swedish, and had grown up without much household warmth. I'm half Swedish myself, and I could understand in what sense that might have been true. It wasn't what I particularly wanted, but Playboy was telling me that the world as a whole was like that, where, in particular, women were commodities for consumerist males, not potential partners, or even people in their own right. The women in the pictures were being glamorized as if they were cars being sold in a showroom, and you had no idea what was on their mind.

Then I came across something much different in an old issue of the magazine. It was a model from Texas sitting on a beach, with her legs drawn up and knees together. Not very explicit, given the angle, but what changed everything was her expression. She was wearing sunglasses and looking at you from the corner of her eyes, smirking at you in that salty Texan way, simultaneously telling you that she'd caught you sneaking a look, men being so predictable, and that she enjoyed it.

Doesn't sound like much, I suppose, but it changed everything. What the magazine was telling you in other cases would put you in a very odd position with respect to women. You'd just be trying to get something out of them, and it would be difficult to find an honest way to relate, let alone any human contact. But here was a woman with a personality showing she was a human being with an interest in this too. I found it madly arousing.

As an adult, I'm a long way past depending on bad magazines to tell me about the world. But having seen the alternative, I'm very grateful for RA, which is absolutely the opposite. Rylsky, after all, is a man who speaks of his love for his mother, and says that grandmothers know best, and who becomes vehement when anyone even seems to imply that women are second class citizens. He's one of the best photographers I've ever encountered, but, more than that, he has a loving eye. It's a live connection with women who express themselves beautifully. And there's playfulness and a social context, like Nedda showing up in the background of the shot, and the backstage sets, and the blogs.

Kei herself is ... well, I risk saying something banal, and certainly inadequate. But it's a wonderful thing knowing that someone like Kei is in the world, and I'm grateful that she has shared her warmth with us.






  • 1

While there's no question that Rylsky is a photographer first and foremost, I always find these videos a special treat. They're fresh, they have ideas, and they have a wonderful sense of time and space and movement. They leave you feeling that you've seen something new about their subjects, and that you've been in warm and graceful company.

It's an odd detail to talk about, I suppose, but I liked not only the use of text, but the way it was written on the screen. A video like this is like a piece of music, and the typing got its rhythms right. For all I know that was a complete accident, and I'm just projecting onto it, but it gave a sense of lagging the beat a little, the way you do when you're thinking what to say.

  • 1

Janelle, warm, relaxed, and lovely,sometimes showing off a bit and about to break into a grin. A very nice feeling to this set.

  • 3

If you'd asked me, I would have said that having a two woman set in which the women looked at the camera and not at each other was a terrible idea. Good thing you didn't ask me! Loved #48.

RA is a warm and cheerful place. Best New Year's wishes for everyone who makes it so, including the people behind the scenes.

  • 1

Vittoria has such grace and poise, yet such warmth. It wouldn't have been December without her.

  • 2

Liv too? RA is really making this a month to remember.


  • 2

This is like seeing Di for the first time. No criticism of Paramov intended; there's just some very good chemistry here.

It's very hard not to say "Nensi," isn't it?

  • 3

The last week has been the best ever on RA, I think, and how else could you end a week like that except with Kei? It was clear days ago that we must be building to that, and it's very pleasant that RA is a place where such logic prevails.

Kei is so warm, intelligent, and full of life that I can't imagine there will ever be a time in her life when she doesn't steal everyone's heart.

  • 2

By custom the Japanese used to express their appreciation for a performance by being silent; the more affecting the performance, the longer you were quiet. That makes a great deal of sense, but unfortunately it's not very communicative over the Internet.

In this particular case, the natural tendency is not to say anything. Everything has come together -- the radiant and joyously beautiful Steffi, the setting, the light, the makeup. The photography is wonderful, and has the kind of lucidity and skin tone that the late Stephen Hicks was known for. But all of that is obvious, isn't it? Better to be quiet and pay attention.

  • 0

Absolutely agreed. Faye is wonderful here, and Rylsky has gotten some spectacular photographs.

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Neil, I hate to take the focus from Faye, but who is the favorite you're talking about? If you want to be specific, of course.

  • 1

If Evita was wearing a potato sack, she'd still stop traffic, with her smile and her beautiful face, and her open, playful attitude. The t-shirt in Mundial wasn't quite like that (actually, it was very sexy), but it helped show how really appealing she is just by personality alone. Of course, leave off the potato sack, and you have something completely astonishing.

  • 1

Great fun, and just the right length. There'd be a fleeting expression and you'd have to go back to see what it was. These videos always seem to show a side of their subjects' personalities you hadn't seen before.

  • 3

Neil and fer_realz have already spoken for me, and better than I would have put it, so let me just second the motion. Cecile is lovely and warm, and always welcome, and the portraits at the end made me feel as if I were seeing her in a fresh way. She has a wonderful quality of openness and directness that gives her a great deal of presence, and just seems to get more beautiful as she goes on. She looks particularly good with a minimum of makeup, I think.

  • 1

What a lovely, inviting, self-assured smile Melissa has. Those last four images were wonderful.

  • 1

Well said, Neil. I'd thought that I had things to do, and would just browse this set a little, but I couldn't tear myself away. Hadya really is a delight.

  • 1

It was a very pleasant surprise to see Anna again, and I hope that she will appear often enough from now on that it won't be a surprise. She's beautiful, and she's been missed.

Anna seems to have a natural instinct for what will make a good picture. That is, she seems aware of the mood and the lighting and the composition of each photograph and to slot right into it, as if she knew exactly what it ought to look like. She looks intelligent and aware and inhabits the frame completely. Rylsky, in turn, knows exactly what works for Anna herself, and this is a really interesting series of photographs. (And it's the first time I've actually seen the point in a picture of a foot.)

I liked the lack of makeup in the first part of the set. Anna looks particularly wonderful when she isn't wearing much of it, particularly eye makeup.

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Mirrors, always a good thing. And they make Jeff twice as cute, which I wouldn't have thought possible.

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I once had an odd conversation with a woman I used to live with, together with her husband, who she'd married after we broke up. She claimed that the Diana Rigg of the Avengers series wasn't attractive. She was the one who'd brought up the subject, and she was dogmatic about it, although she has no interest in women herself. Her husband and I felt very differently about it, and so has every man I've ever asked.

Diana Rigg was good looking, though that doesn't explain why, when she walked onscreen in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, I actually stopped breathing. You could point to particular qualities, such as her wit and intelligence and way of being in the world, but they don't really capture the melody, and it's hard to see how it could ever come out in photographs.

Looking at this set brought that to mind. I came out of it thinking that if Leesa walked into a party, you'd be doing your best to convince your girlfriend you hadn't noticed, and she wouldn't believe you anyway.

How do you represent something like that in pictures, or at least imply that it's there? From what I can see, you photograph a real human being, and show some of her infinite variety. You give her room to relate to the camera in an authentic way. You take very good photographs, and you assemble them in a way that means something. No trick to it at all, really.

There were a lot of photos in this set that could easily have been black and white, and I wished that they were. Whenever Rylsky has done color and B&W versions of the same scene, the black and white has always come off stronger. Leesa would be natural for that.

  • 1

Exactly. That movie was a joy in many ways, and one of the best parts was about a minute from the end, when Irina gives Virginia that cross-eyed look. In general Irina's and Virginia's eyes and faces were so expressive in that movie that you kept thinking about them, and it was very pleasant to see Irina again at just the right time, and in this particular way.

For some reason -- the bed and the pillows, I suppose -- this set made me think of La maja desnuda and Velázquez's Rokeby Venus. A centered, graceful, classical feeling about it, and set against the sheer liveliness of Irina in the movie it makes you think of lightning in a bottle.

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This set made me think of the sort of mood you might see in musicians after they've finished for the night, when they're sitting and playing a little, for themselves or for each other, without the sense of performance. I don't know that exactly describes what's going on here, but Vittoria seems more laid back than usual, and she's lovely in an unforced way and very expressive. This set was a great pleasure.

The mirror shots were clever and effective. There's been a lot of photography with mirrors, and almost certainly I'm missing something, but I don't recall seeing anything like the images here. The series of shots starts with Vittoria flirting with herself in the mirror, which is standard, but always fun. Then it becomes really interesting, starting at #18, when she seems to be checking the "other woman" out. That's sexy, as it always is when a woman looks at herself, or another woman, in erotic photography; I'm not sure why it works, but it really does. But it's an impossible image, like an Escher lithograph. She's can't possibly be looking at what she seems to be, since she's facing the wrong way. She'd have to be behind the woman in the foreground, reflected in the mirror, but she can't be, since she'd be blocking the camera.

While I like the "Petals" series, I think it's much nicer if the same material is integrated into a normal set, as here. No one seemed to mind, so perhaps there's hope.

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It always lifts my spirits to see Jodie. She's so beautiful, and comes across as so genuine and unaffected that when she's feeling happy and playful you can't help but share her joy. When she smiles she seems to hold nothing back.

  • 4

Steffi has one of the most beautiful faces I've ever seen, not to mention a wonderful poise and self-assurance, and, my God, that smile. She is also very flexible. Put those things together in a single picture and you achieve nuclear fission.

The braids really do work, don't they? They bring out something sporty and playful. It's always a pleasure to see Steffi's long straight hair, but this is a very nice touch.

  • 1

I'm sure it will. Met-Art's computer staff seems to be very competent and hard working, and if this involved a server change, it's to their credit that things weren't a lot worse.

  • 1

I'm not quite picturing Liv and Luciana together, but that's why it would be interesting, I guess. Anyway, you'd have Liv, and you'd have Luciana, and how could that be anything less than wonderful? So sure, amen, and I'll throw in a Hell YEAH! if you like.

  • 3

Every time Liv appears I think she has never looked so beautiful. Which is just me feeling happy to see her, I suppose, but over time she has certainly gotten more relaxed, assured, and expressive, and, I think, even more lovely, as if she's realized just how attractive she really is. A wonderful range of expressions, and a smile that could change your life.

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Lija's Swedish, so it's squabble. I wonder why the title.

Swedish and Finnish are very different; they're in different families of languages -- Indo-European and Finno-Ugric (roughly, Uralic), respectively. Indo-European languages include any European language you've probably run into, while Uralic languages include Finnish, Hungarian, and Estonian. A Korean I know sat down with a Finn and compared languages for a while, and concluded that Finnish was a lot like Korean, but take that for what it's worth.

I lived in Stockholm for a few years, and learned some Swedish, and studied Finnish for a while, mainly to get experience with a non-Indo-European language, and can say firsthand that they don't have a lot in common. Vocabulary's the least of it, but, for example, Sweden is "Sverige" in Swedish, and "Ruotsi" in Finnish. It seems unlikely that squabbles and stones have anything to do with each other here, but stranger things have happened.

Finland was part of Sweden for some centuries, and one reason that Finnish survived was that the Swedes tried to ensure that it did. Still, to get a lot of jobs in Finland, I've heard, you need to know at least Swedish in addition to Finnish, since otherwise you can't really talk to the rest of the world.

According to the Russian Primary Chronicles, Russia got its name from a group of Varangians (Varyags) called the Rus', who were invited in to rule the country at a time when the local tribes fought incessantly. It's probably a longer story than that, but anyway the Rus' appear to have been Swedish Vikings. (The word Rus' seems to have come from an area in Sweden called Roslagen -- a compound Ros + lagen, where "lagen" means law -- which would give it the same Old Norse origins as the Finnish word for Sweden, Ruotsi.) From what I've heard from a Lithuanian friend, a different account was given in the Soviet days, but there seems to have been an agenda behind that.

I'm half Swedish, and it pleases me to think that Russia and Belarus were named after some of my thug ancestors, the Vikings. In any case, they got around. All the major cities in Ireland were founded by Vikings, for example. In Dublin they do a touristy thing where people put on horned helmets and sail on Viking boats. Of course, whatever horned helmets that ever existed were purely ceremonial -- you'd get killed very quickly if you actually fought in something like that.



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You were fine the first time.

  • 0

An athlete's body is a wonderful thing, and if you add to that Beata's lovely face, she is already very beautiful. But if you also add that smile, that vitality, that playfulness, that joy ... Well, at that point I'm a bit in love, and you'll get no more sense out of me.

A very nice set, fresh and lively, one that suits Beata very well without drawing attention to itself. I hope we'll see much more of her.

  • 2

Hi Kei,

I wasn't sure at first what discoveries to write about, but then it occurred to me that I'd learned something about how to walk. It could be described more directly, but in the spirit of things (and not, of course, because I just like to write long notes), I'll take the long way around.

There's someone in my t'ai chi class with multiple sclerosis (MS). It's an autoimmune disorder that attacks the myelin sheath that covers nerve cells, like the insulator on a wire. The consequences as the disorder progresses are, in part, a lack of motor coordination and severe rheumatism. His sister has MS as well, and she's been in a wheelchair for twenty years. I offered to help him with his t'ai chi, but really with his motor skills in general. The goal is to keep him on his feet as long as possible.

Now what has t'ai chi got to do with this, aside from being a form of movement? First off, it's a martial art. That would probably not be apparent if all you saw was people practicing a t'ai chi form, since it would look soft and relaxed. In fact, very little of the t'ai chi in the world has any real content, and couldn't be used martially. The fact that t'ai chi can be used in that way means that it has some functional utility.

For example, a two person exercise I did a long time ago had you bumping your partner with your shoulder. (That's a very vague description, of course.) When you made contact, you wouldn't really feel anything, but your partner would be launched into space and fly back until he hit the wall a few feet away. When it was done to you, it was like being picked up by a giant hand, very gently, and being carried through the air. This was just an exercise, and of no practical use, but it does demonstrate that the basic mechanics are very good, and that the force is being transferred in a highly efficient way.

My own interest in t'ai chi, and the related "internal" arts hsing i and pa kwa, is not primarily martial, but not understanding the martial aspects would be like pantomiming using a hammer without knowing what it was like to hit a nail. These arts are mechanically effective because they use the structure and intrinsic leverages of the human body in a precise way. Using muscular effort would actually interfere with this, and in particular with the transfer of force from the lower body through the upper body.

By Newton's Third Law, any action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you push something, you get pushed back with equal force, and similarly if you pull something. The main way around that is to use the structure of the body to relate all forces to the ground. You open up from the ground, and you close into the ground, rather than pushing and pulling.

That is to say, if you sit on a table, it supports you because its legs are relatively incompressible, so you get pushed back up by precisely the same amount as you're pushing down into the ground. The human skeleton actually allows us to use the ground in very flexible ways. For example, if I were to hold my arm in front of me, as if embracing somebody, and you pushed against it, it would be straightforward to divert the force of your push into the ground, and back up again, just like the table. I wouldn't be pushing back, but rather just receiving the incoming force and letting physics do the work, and all I'd feel would that that my back foot had a little more weight on it. From the other side, you'd feel as if you were pushing into the floor. If I did resist your push, then I'd lose the structure and it would all fall apart.

This is the same thing that happens with a building that uses an arch. The incoming force (the load) is being diverted by degrees until it's vectored into the ground. If you didn't use an arch, then the load would fall on top of a flat surface, like a bookshelf. The direction the force takes, the "thrust," does not follow the contours of the arch. Similarly, in that embracing position, the thrust actually crosses between the arm and the chest before being diverted down the body into the ground. You could induce it to follow the arm directly, but it's not very natural. If you were pushing on the arm, you could feel the difference.

So t'ai chi and related arts are very concerned with that relationship with the ground. They speak of the difference between "substantial" and "insubstantial," or "solid" and "empty." That is, you're concerned with whether a particular part of you is on the path between the force and the ground. If a part of you is "substantial," you have a feeling of solidity. For example, if you stand with your feet apart, and turn to one side, you'll note that the heel of one foot and the ball of the other feel heavy and the other parts of the feet feel light.

This is basic stuff, and it isn't specific to the martial arts. For example, farmers will use the same mechanics (including mechanisms not discussed so far). It's just something that the human body naturally does.

But why should it be so natural for human beings to ground a force this way? And what's all this got to do with walking?

It could be argued that what human beings are really good at, physically, is running and walking. We can literally outrun any other animal on earth, and in fact there are annual races between horses and people, and the people usually win. There are tribes that hunt antelopes by running them down. Obviously any of these animals would be faster over a short distance, but we're much better adapted to running long distances. This is in part, because of our skeletal structure. We're bipedal. So are other great apes, at least intermittently, but they have different spines and pelvises and legs; ours form a natural arch. In general, our breathing is not tied to our movement, and we sweat, which allows us to exchange heat efficiently as our bodies warm with exercise. A dog who ran for very long would be panting to cool off.

I'm not sure that sweating has much practical application, but the rest does. For example, to run very long, you need to deal with the shock of contact between your feet and the ground. That's why our skeletons form those natural arches, for example between our legs and in the soles of our feet, and why our spines can flex. Those arches are a primary reason that we can divert an incoming force into the ground.

Furthermore, as you walk, your tendons are stretched out and stretch back again, storing and releasing energy, just like stretching an elastic band and letting it snap back into shape. You also store up energy in your lumbar spine. You can feel that when you walk uphill. Your Achilles tendon stretches out and shortens again, making the walking fairly effortless. Your lower back bows out as you step uphill and then straightens as you continue to walk, shooting you up the hill like a bow shooting an arrow. You can see much the same mechanisms at work if you look at a slow motion movie of a horse running.

While there's much more to say about it, this has a lot to do with the way t'ai chi and related arts work. In very large part they're an extension of walking (and breathing). They're "natural" in the sense that we're evolved to walk, so they just take advantage of the natural structure of the body. In a sense, that means you don't need to do very much. In fact, what you mainly need to do is to unlearn your bad habits and let the tool do the work, that is, let the body work as designed. (That's actually quite difficult to get to, because life in a sedentary, agriculturally based society doesn't encourage much moving around, and leads to bad habits, but get past that and things take care of themselves.)

So that's what t'ai chi has to do with walking, and why it's a useful place to start if you want to look at it.

For example, suppose you walk up stairs. What people typically do is to plant a foot on the next step and pull themselves up, using the quadriceps. Roughly speaking, your foot is on the step, your knee is bent at a right angle, and you straighten it. This isn't very efficient, because the leverage isn't very good, and you get tired quite easily. What you can do instead is to ground yourself on the foot as you go forward. That is, as you shift into the leg you're becoming substantial on it, and the load is supported at every moment. You "sink" onto the leg, instead of pulling yourself up. This pops you right up without any effort.

Similarly when you walk. You become substantial on one foot, and the structure of the body, including the soft tissue, extends the other leg. That leg will feel substantial as it goes out, When your weight goes onto it, the leg is supporting you at all points, and as you become completely substantial on it, for an instant, the same bodily adjustment that made it substantial brings out the other foot. It's effortless, and mechanically very efficient. The leverage is optimal, and your tendons are stretching and shortening, and your back is bowing out and straightening. The movement as a whole is circular -- more exactly, a figure 8, which you can feel, for example, in the soles of your feet. Thus it's an unbroken movement, not stopping and starting, and you're constantly recycling energy as you walk, storing and releasing.

I'd been walking this way, because after you get t'ai chi and the other arts into your body a little you naturally do, but I'd never really analyzed it until I tried to explain it to my friend with MS. (You don't really understand anything until you try to teach it, do you?) So that was a discovery for me, and it showed me a lot about how things fit together.

For example, for this to work, you need to get past a lot of bad habits. I'd worked on those things myself for a long time, so I could explain them a bit to my friend, though I don't claim much proficiency. For example, nearly every man on earth walks by throwing out his right leg and using it to drag himself forward, and getting the left leg out but not really using it, as if it were a crutch, just a stepping stone to getting into a position to drag forward with the right leg again. (I don't know that women do this quite as much, so I won't comment.) That misaligns the right hip and twists the spine, and you end up using the gluteus to walk forward, where it's really meant just to stabilize your gait. It's not unlike pulling yourself up a step.

The muscles you really need to use are the hip adductors (the muscles that bring the leg towards the hip, that is the muscles "inside" the hip) rather than the hip abductors (the muscles "outside," like the gluteus). They let you keep your hips and spine straight, and thus they allow your spine to act as an axis. They connect your legs and your spine, and if you engage them, they form a natural arch between your legs, and lift up the arches of your feet. If you don't use them, your knees sag inward and you fall over your arches. In fact, you can't fall into the right hip if these muscles are active, and can't drag yourself forward with the leg. Thus those muscles tend to be underused.

To have an axis, which is basic to moving, you need your spine to be fairly straight. That's pretty straightforward. You release your lower back, so the curve of the lumbar straightens out somewhat, which leads your hips to roll under. Your coccyx then points straight up and down. The weight of your lumbar seems to pull on the upper spine, like an anchor chain straightening due to the weight of the anchor, and your neck straightens out. This tips the head slightly forward so that its weight is balanced evenly on the neck. It feels buoyant, "suspended," as they say, and tends to organize your movement. In short, you get out of the way and let your body adjust itself.

One thing I learned from showing this to my friend is that there's a psychological impediment to actually doing it. The physical part of it is pretty straightforward, at least if somebody talks you through it. Basically, you're just getting out of the way and letting your body work as designed. It's very low maintenance, as you'd expected, since we're evolved to work this way, and you don't need to do anything artificial. It's very simple and effortless. You just have to make sure you don't do anything extra on top of it, what the Chinese would call "painting legs on a snake." For example, if you move your legs independently of your body, instead of letting the basic mechanics take care of things, you throw everything off.

And that's what my friend finds hard. It's too easy, in a way. He wants to *do* things, while this is a matter of letting things happen. It's a kind of ego. He wants to be in the position of telling his body what to do, not just letting it work by itself. But that's what you need to do. It's a matter of unlearning the habits that obscure the working of the body as a well-"designed" machine, not of learning new habits.

So there's everyone's problem in a nutshell. We all do that, don't we? We want to be in control of ourselves, like a bad boss looking over the shoulders of his employees and telling them how to do their jobs, even though they know their jobs better than he does. And it's not so easy to get past that.

As for my friend, he started off very clumsy and uncoordinated, and you would have thought it was purely because of the MS, but it turns out that he can walk just fine -- better than most people, in fact -- once he gets past exactly the same bad habits that everyone else has. That may not continue to be the case as the MS progresses, but he's been pretty stable for ten years now, so at least it's not progressing quickly. Part of the difference is confidence, I think, and I think part of it is that the way people habitually walk is dynamically messy and requires appreciably more control than just letting the body work the way it's evolved to. If your nervous system isn't working well, you want to keep things as simple as possible.

A caveat: I don't claim to speak for t'ai chi practitioners in general; this is just what makes sense to me, at least right now. And nobody would ever mistake me for an engineer.

  • 3

Once I was having dinner with a friend of mine and we found we both had something to confess, so we both did it pretty much at once. She and I both blurted out that a certain woman we both knew was amazingly attractive.

When I told that woman about it, she said it made her feel as if she'd just eaten some butter. She grew up in one of the Baltic states, and I didn't know if that was an expression there, or whether it was a spontaneous reaction. In any case, I knew what she meant, that warm, clean taste you get in the back of your throat when you're content that something has gone just right. For example, I get it sometimes when I'm working on something and the ideas cohere in a new and surprising way, and lots of possibilities have opened up.

I thought of that when I saw the first picture in this set. In fact, I felt that taste in my throat as soon as I saw the thumbnail. It's the sort of smile that leaves you feeling good for days.

  • 1

It's presumably Russia --> Spain, since Sharon's biography talks about how she likes to visit Spain and learn about Spanish culture. I can certainly understand that. Go to Madrid, and you begin to feel that this is an obviously sensible way to live, and nobody else catches the spirit of things quite right. (This is particularly likely to happen, I find, if you're there because you've met a Spanish woman.)

Of course, Spain is not a completely uncomplicated country.

  • 1

It is impossible to take an unflattering picture of Liv. That's just the way the universe works, and I'm sure that _fer_realz_ understands that. What he probably meant to say is that we'd all like to see more of her.

As well as just being fun, I find these pictures absolutely endearing, in a way that a more glamorous approach wouldn't be. It would be rather horrible if your girlfriend or wife just smiled and posed for you all the time; you wouldn't feel you knew her, or that she was acting like a real human being. Those moments when she bites into a lemon are the ones that really find their way into your heart.

I shouldn't admit to this, but I got sucked into seeing the Spice Girls movie once, and, although it was as terrible as you'd think, it had one good line. The Spice Girls are rehearsing, and, as always, it's manufactured pop music, with nothing to get hold of. "That was absolutely perfect, without actually being any good," their musical director snaps. Yeah. If something is "perfect," it can just mean that it's highly optimized along very artificial lines. Much nicer, every now and then, to have something more real.

  • 3

Kei, it's wonderful to hear from you again. And to see you. Anyone who ever doubted the power of black and white photography need only look at the pictures on your blog entries. This one ought to be framed. As any good picture does, it says things that words really can't, but I loved the sense of movement within stillness, and stillness within movement, and the sense both of unselfconscious delight and of reaching out to share that delight.

I'm glad to see that your Spanish is coming along!

As for getting out into nature, yes, some of my most vivid and pleasant memories of being a child are from the first times I ever got to sleep under the stars, feel the cool night air on my skin, and listen to the sounds of small creatures going about their lives.

When I go to the woods I feel part of a set of relationships. Being mortal seems very natural there, because it's so clear that everything in the woods is connected, that your own place in it is like one voice among many in a piece of polyphonic music, and that it all existed long before you and will exist long after you. As Ecclesiastes put it, "Earth abides."

What I find is that, just as human beings tend to see animals as human, like Mickey Mouse, animals see humans as animals of their own kind. Dogs, for example, may see a human as a high-ranking member of their pack. (Which is why the advice to raise your arms above your head and wave them if you see a bear. Bears can't do that, and since bears don't like to share the same territory, you don't want a bear thinking you're another bear.)

I used to live in a place where a small herd of deer would graze in my back yard. I'd go out on my back doorstep to practice standing meditation and qigong, and they'd hang out a few feet away. They appointed one member of the herd to keep an eye on me, but he basically just laid on the grass and drowsed off. I study the Chinese internal martial arts -- t'ai chi, hsing i, pa kwa -- and some of the movements are modeled after deers, so it was nice to have the chance to see how they moved. Mainly, though, I just liked the company.

One day, it was just me and a male deer, and I did part of a pa kwa standing set where you touch the toe of your opposite foot, and then come up on one leg with your arms out from the shoulders, like a crane. To my surprise, the deer bolted behind a tree and hooted at me. You could tell he wasn't very happy to be in the position he found himself in, whatever it was. He left, and I didn't see the herd again for months. Finally I realized that if he saw me as another deer, what I'd done was to lower my antlers and then to raise them, which apparently was a challenge. It was my territory, and he thought I was claiming it.

I was doing standing meditation outside once when I felt something around the corner of the house, the way you feel someone looking at you, but in this case just a sense that something was there. It came around the corner, and turned out to be a cat. There were some feral cats in the neighborhood who were very wary about human beings, since they'd grown up without them. This one was female, and from her scent she was in heat. She actually walked right up to me, her head turned to the side, before she realized I was there, and ran away a few feet. Then she reconsidered, and gave me a look over her shoulder. If she saw me as a fellow cat, I was a male cat, after all ... I wanted to explain that I was flattered, but it would really never work.



  • 1

I enjoy the videos at RA quite a lot, and I like it that they're tight and well-constructed, as opposed to the "let's throw a lot of mud at the wall and see what sticks" approach. They have ideas, they don't belabor them, and they're crisp. They don't make your mind wander while you wait for something to happen.

Logically, that doesn't say anything about whether 3-6 minutes is the right sort of length. I don't have strong opinions about that, except to say that in the existing videos it's felt right. Actually, I thought the video with Alysha was nice just as it was, and didn't need to be longer.

On the other hand, I respectfully disagree with part of the rationale (though not all of it). I don't think that porn is relevant here. That might be a matter of how you define porn versus erotica, and that's a whole story in itself, but for me porn is a specialized genre having to do with a certain part of the cycle of sexual response. It's concerned with the part of the cycle where you're feeling fairly aggressive and want satisfaction in an urgent and not necessarily personal way: you've got a maddening itch to scratch, you want to see and feel and taste some breast, you want to be in some vagina, you want it now, and you don't want complications.

In contrast, I'd say that erotica is concerned with the sexual cycle as a whole, which also includes tenderness, an intense feeling that the object of desire is a real and important and very specific person, and that shared desire brings people together. That isn't to say that porn is bad and erotica is good, just that erotica represents a wider range of experience. You could pin that down in a laboratory, using scans to see what parts of the brain are active at different points.

Defining things that way, RA is erotica, not porn. I can think of no case where the identity of the woman or women in the frame was not absolutely paramount. You might have a highly sexual closeup of a breast, but it's never just anybody's breast, it's Kei's or Vittoria's or Evita's, for example, and that's why it matters. Take the video of Alysha. You feel someone wants to show you things he loves about her. Looking up her skirt is on the list, but it's not taken out of proportion. At the end you feel that Alysha is more real to you than she was before, and that you understand and like her better and value her more, not that she's been put at your disposal. In fact, the best part is the very end, which isn't sexual at all, though it is very endearing.

That's simply different from the way porn works. Porn is about the kind of emotional narrowing that occurs when you're highly aroused or very afraid or very angry. It tends to be restricted to a correspondingly narrow set of sounds and images. It objectifies in a simpleminded way -- as the Yiddish proverb goes, "When the prick goes up, the head goes out the window." So it's inherently something you're not going to watch for very long; unless you intend to use it to achieve orgasm, it's not that interesting. (Not that it's that black and white, and Andrew Blake is certainly an exception.)

You could have exactly the same sexual focus in erotica, but it would be part of a larger context. It might be intense, and orgasmic, but not obsessive or depersonalizing. And that opens the door it a lot of things that are visually interesting and emotionally engaging. For example, everyone loves photographs of a model walking down the street in a normal way, and just living her life. For porn that would just be a complication.

So I don't think that porn is germane. There's just more to look at, and connect with, in erotica, so it stands up to a longer viewing. It can build up more slowly, and have more variety. Is 3-6 minutes a good length anyway? It does seem to be, in the cases I've seen, though I wouldn't want to close the door to something longer.

  • 0

It's a strange world in which this kind of question needs to be asked at all, though I understand why it does. Color and B&W each have their strengths, and why choose? It's like asking whether hammers are better than screwdrivers. You use a hammer sometimes, and a screwdriver sometimes, and the actual mixture depends on what's in front of you.

I was very happy to see a mostly B&W set, and hope there will be many more. As for this particular set, I admit I wasn't sure at first. After the very vivid use of color in the first few pictures, the first B&W photograph initially seemed a little flat and gray. To keep up with the color, it would have needed to have more contrast, the deep blacks and complex shadows that make objects so luminous in B&W, and because it didn't, initially something felt lost.

But get past the transition, and take the B&W on its own terms, and it was gorgeous, and did things that color couldn't have. Because of the lack of contrast, Ralina stood out against the background in a subtle three-dimensional way. Her head and face have never looked better, and Ralina herself has never seemed so appealing.

I think that Evita would be a natural choice for a B&W series, especially one with lots of chiaroscuro, like the classic photographs of Anita Ekberg. But then Astrud would be natural in her own way, and Vittoria, and Alysha, and ...

  • 0

That was just about perfect, and just the right length.

I first thought the title was about Milene herself having presence. Which doesn't quite work, but it shows what kind of impression she makes. That smile would have launched a thousand ships.

Add to that the interplay with the other woman -- Valentina? -- even when she's entirely offscreen, and this set is amazingly effective, much more erotic than any amount of unfelt groping. It's always about emotion and context, isn't it? As they say, sex is in the mind.

  • 3

Vittoria's series always leave me feeling I've been given something very beautiful, with generosity and delight.

Not to reopen an old discussion, but while I enjoy the Petals series, I much prefer this kind of set. It's more natural and balanced, and has more emotional context. Oh, never mind all that, I just miss it when I can't see Vittoria smile!

Loved the last three pictures.

  • 2

The video would have been worth it just to hear Jeff's voice. For the rest, I agree that Jeff comes across much more strongly in video than in photographs, and I say that as someone who loves her photographs. Please thank her for the effort she put into it.

As for the length of videos, I agree with Roger Ebert that no bad movie is too short, and no good movie is too long. Lawrence of Arabia is 227 minutes long, and when I saw it I wasn't aware that any time had passed at all. In general, I think it's best if videos, or photographic series, are precisely as long as their internal logic says they should be, without a preset minimum or maximum.

When I wrote for a newspaper, I'd ask an editor how much room there was for the story, as measured in column inches, and I'd write the story exactly that long. If you know how stories are constructed, it's straightforward to do that, and I imagine it's similarly straightforward to make a video come out at five minutes. But it does constrain the story you're telling, not just the way you word things -- you restrict yourself to saying things that find their natural shape in that much space.

That isn't to argue that working within restrictions can't be good, or that longer is better than shorter. Scotty Moore, who played guitar on Elvis Presley's early recordings, got a lot more done in the few seconds he had to work in than Eric Clapton did when his playing sprawled over twenty minutes. I like it that the series at RA stay short enough to be well-defined. But you wouldn't have wanted Bach to think he had a time limit when he wrote the Chaconne, either.

  • 2

It's good to see Kei is so well loved (and that I'm not the only one who's missed her). She seems to have spent the time away becoming even more beautiful.

Kei is so warm, lively, playful, and engaged; you can feel her intelligence in every picture. Like Neil, I hope she will write another blog entry soon.

  • 1

There's an old story involving an American tourist in the Louvre who tells her companion that the paintings are really very nice. A guard comes by and tells her, "Madame, it is not the paintings that are on trial here."

That's the French being snarky, of course, but there's something to it, and it came to mind when I saw this set. There are thousands of sets in this general style, but this one just works. It gives you the feeling that good art does of being exactly right in ways you don't understand, and of elevating you for having seen it. It stops feeling like an artifact and takes on a life of its own.

I couldn't explain why. But I can say that everything seems perfectly attuned to Vittoria, including the setting, which suits her completely. Vittoria is gorgeous and graceful and what she does is incredibly erotic, but what really gives that meaning is the beautifully positive emotions she expresses. She looks right at you and you feel she's giving you something out of happiness and love. You carry that feeling for days.

Now, of course, these are photographs, and for all I know Vittoria, in real life, steals from the poor and roots for the wrong soccer team. But the sense I have of her is of someone who not only has a sense of style, and expands her life in a number of interesting directions, but also retains the best qualities she had as a child. The world would be a better place if that were true of all of us.

  • 2

Wonderful news! Neil is right; Jodie truly is special. She has a radiance that brings out the best in you, and it's not hard to see why her friends would call her "sun." When I first saw her picture I realized after a while that I'd forgotten to breathe. I'd thought that "breathtaking" was a meaningless cliche, but apparently not.

  • 0

As an adult, I know it's foolish to fall in love with a woman just because she's adorable. Uh, isn't it? Because as soon as I saw the expression on Vittoria's face about twenty seconds in, after she opened the gates, I was lost.

For me, the video captured the feeling you have when you love someone and treasure her quirks and occasional awkwardness as much as her perfections. It sets up a grand entrance, but the gates seem to get stuck, and the actual entrance is the way Vittoria takes it in stride.

Vittoria is a classic beauty, and moves like a dancer, and the room itself is beautiful, but she inhabits it in a very human way. She's a little unsteady when she squats down to feel the water, and there's no attempt to coordinate her jumping up and down in the water with the very steady beat of the music. She's simply having fun, and you feel happy because she's let you see it, instead of being remote and stylish. It's grace of a different sort.

I don't know if this was actually intended. Maybe it was just meant to be a nice video about Vittoria in a whirlpool, and this is just my personal filter. In general, anyway, I always enjoy these videos. They have ideas, and reasons why someone would want to make them, rather than just being another form of rote glamor photography.

  • 0

If I had just one request to make, it's that requests of that kind not be taken very seriously. As a writer put it, if you ask readers what they want, they'll always ask for ice cream. And I doubt that the relatively small number of people who do write in about these things are representative, anyway.

For myself, I immediately brightened up when you used the word "classic." But it wouldn't occur to me to try to influence your choices, as opposed to, say, suggesting that something might make a good subject. Much more interesting to see what someone will come up with when he's free to surprise himself as well as you.

  • 3

Well said, and I agree completely. This set is a delight.

  • 2

How wonderful to see Kei again, so lovely, warm, and self-assured, and with that spark of mischief. If ever anyone's soul was in her eyes, it's in Kei's.

Kei's question some time ago about what poses are really essential was quite interesting, and didn't get addressed very much (partly because when she set the "passion juice" hare running, the dogs all ran in a different direction). For me, it's variants of #64 -- sitting or reclining. It's sensual and inviting, in a relaxed way, something that might come up in real life. And it depends very much upon mood and attitude and personality. Rylsky will sometimes photograph it showing only knees and face, which makes a great deal of sense.

  • 1

Someone once tried to address a certain martial artist as "Master." "Don't call me 'Master' until you put me in the grave," he said. "I want to keep learning." At that point in his life he had practiced the arts for 70 years, starting off in China when he was 10 years old, but he felt he had only scratched the surface. He wasn't about to let himself get locked into a role where he couldn't just mess around and try things out.

There's a story in a book called the Chuang Tze along the same lines. Chuang Tze is fishing in the river when two envoys come to him from the Emperor to ask him to lead the state. He will be greatly honored, they say. Without even bothering to turn his head, he asks if they've seen the temple down the road, which has a turtle on the altar. The turtle has been there a hundred years, and it is surrounded by jewels and flowers. Do you want to be that turtle, Chuang Tze asks, or would you rather be the turtle over there on the bank of the river who's swishing his tail in the mud? They take the point and leave.

It's implied that Chuang Tze was a good choice precisely because he was the kind of turtle who'd rather be in the mud. The turtle on the altar? Not very interesting company.

As for the martial artist, when he died, his gravestone read "Blessed are the peacemakers." (I'm not sure if that's recognizable in translation, but it's from the King James Bible, Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount.) After more than ten years, we still miss him very much.

  • 0

Thanks, fer_realz, though I only call myself Doug on Tuesdays. :-)

From what I've heard, you'd get a different reaction in rural France. The French people I've met came from Paris, and they tended to be people at the top of the pecking order, who seemed to do an awful lot of pecking, and people at the bottom, who tended to get pecked really a lot, and yeah, they'd respond the way you describe.

If it makes you feel any better, one of the first books I read in Swedish was by a Swedish radio correspondent living in Paris, and he said that Parisians really did get tough when you tried to speak French. But if you shifted to English, they'd get very angry, since, as a Swede, you'd studied English intensively, so your English would be much better than theirs, and they'd hate being shown up. So you were better off sticking to French.

Spanish speakers are in fact very nice about putting up with terrible Spanish. On the other hand, an American who's fluent in Spanish is likely to sound strange to them, as having a kind of Wonder Bread way of speaking, to judge by a remark by friend of mine in Madrid. And Spanish speakers do get endless amusement from the times a foreigner inadvertently says something different from what they meant (and often something obscene). But it's pretty good-natured.

In contrast, I once saw a program which had someone named Anthony Bourdain getting ready for a trip to Paris by taking a French lesson, and his teacher, who was French, was screaming at him over his pronunciation. In fact Bourdain was introducing all kinds of unintended meanings by saying words slightly wrong, so it actually did matter, but the teacher never bothered to explain that, just yelled at him to repeat after him once more. On practical terms it really wasn't a big deal, since it wasn't hard to make out what Bourdain was trying to say, and otherwise it was just mildly comical, but the teacher seemed ready to come over the table at him.

  • 2

Michelangelo's Creation of Adam, you mean? It's a mirror image of the painting, but sure, that has to be deliberate. It's a fun picture, and so are all the rest of them. These backstage sets are always a great treat.

And full of mysteries. For example, those red fingertips in #13, almost like painted nails. And the mystery of how that pretty makeup artist in #26 and #27 learned such good calligraphy, and, much more important, how she came to be so worshipped by beautiful models. Surely this is a talent worth cultivating.

  • 1

This set is wonderful, and I hope it will be remembered the next time "experiments" come up. And compliments to whoever is finding the locations, which have always been a very strong feature of RylskyArt.

  • 0

It's always a pleasure to see Cecile, and among her sets, I think this is by far the best.

  • 1

Interesting, fer_realz. You were doing extremely well if you could pick up anything just on the basis of a semester of French ten years before, particularly since language courses don't usually prepare you very well for the way languages are actually spoken.

Speaking of French, I learned something a few years ago. I was in a long supermarket line behind a pair of well-dressed women. They were quite cheerful and not at all impatient, which I liked in them, and were speaking in a language I couldn't at all identify. That puzzled me until I tuned it in differently and realized it was French. In fact, once you made the adjustment, it was beautifully clear French, which I had no trouble understanding.

It reminded me of the complaints I'd heard from Canadian French speakers that the French were so snobbish that they refused to understand what they were saying. However that may be, I can imagine that there might have been something real going on. (Of course, things do work both ways. A friend of mine from Quebec was dogmatic about the difference between dialects. French Canadian was the true French, she said, the French spoken before the French Revolution, after which European French became vulgar.)

There are ways of making a language easier to hear for a non-native speaker. Someone whp's very good at this is the opera singer Cecilia Bartoli. On an early video she has a long conversation with her producer, who's English, and she pitches everything she says so clearly that it seems to pour directly into your brain. It took me a while to even notice that she was speaking Italian.

Later in the video she's driving in Rome and gets cut off, and shouts something like "Porca putana! Que cazzo fai!", and giggles that she's said that on camera. (At least, that's what I think she says, since they cut the sound.) If there's anyone on earth who could meet Cecilia and not love her, you wouldn't want to know them.

  • 3

Yes, French, Spanish, Swedish, and Latin, and I'm terrible in all of them, though I can read reasonably well. It's not that hard to learn to read a new language -- after a couple of very intense weeks I could manage fairly well in Spanish -- but listening, writing, and speaking are a different story. So my Spanish friends write me in Spanish, and I answer in English, which is easier for all of us.

What I find is that one language tends to compete with another. When I was living in Sweden, I thought and dreamed in Swedish, and found that my English was odd sometimes, because I was unconsciously translating from Swedish. I began to have trouble with American speech rhythms. The worst was when I was trying to learn Spanish, and found that if my concentration lapsed even a little, I'd start saying something in Spanish and the other half would come out in Swedish.

The oddest case of this was when I was in a subway in Stockholm. I was reading a Spanish newspaper, El Pais. A child got a bit close to the edge of the platform, and I thought "Det ser livsfaerligt ut." The part of me that was reading the paper tried to understand this as a Spanish sentence.

As for learning Spanish, that would open some doors. I used to be in charge of a group that included people from, among other places, France, Italy, and Spain. Spanish was the language they could all understand, even if they didn't speak it. That's partly, I think, because all of these languages evolved from Latin, and Spanish stayed closest to Latin, even closer than Italian. In fact, when I quoted a Latin proverb to my Spanish friends once, they had the same proverb in Spanish, and it sounded almost exactly the same, word for word.

  • 0

I've always liked Rina, but never felt that her series really did her justice. They show her as lovely but also remote, as if she's being too much a model, or perhaps just melancholy. Fair enough -- she's a professional, and obviously serious about doing her job; but I always wanted to see her just being herself, and since RylskyArt is exactly the right environment for that, and since movies leave a lot of room for spontaneity, I was very pleased to see this come up. And now that I've seen the movie, I think I'm a little bit in love.

Those moments about a minute in where Rina is working into the stretch, and that ending, where Rina is grinning in sheer delight -- they're transformative, and completely enchanting. And the movie as a whole expresses that happiness perfectly.

  • 4

My very warmest regards, Kei, and best wishes for the new year.

Your photographs have always given the sense of a radiant personality, but your blog still took me by surprise. It was pure sunlight -- such warmth, such delight in being alive. I felt happy for days reading it, and seeing how you responded to everyone, as one does when encountering someone with a really good heart. Rylsky put it well in his first anniversary greetings.

As for writing in English, it's impressive that you do it so well. English is an odd sort of language, because of its history. It's stripped down in certain ways -- when the Vikings occupied England, they didn't worry too much about learning all the details of the existing language, and many features dropped out. An English speaker has a terrible time when first exposed to noun declensions and gender. On the other hand, English is haphazard and complicated in other ways, because of influence from other languages. The spelling is incredibly arbitrary, to start with. Articles aren't peculiar to English, but they must be horrible to learn if you haven't grown up with them. I've spent some time trying to help a Russian friend of mine who lives in Ireland use articles, and it's quite difficult to explain when you use an indefinite or definite article, and when you omit the article altogether. He's very proficient otherwise, and in fact he has a very accurate northern Irish accent, to the point where most Americans take him for Irish, and many can't understand a word he says.

Most of the grad students in my university's linguistics department spoke English as a second language, and some of them made up a list to help new students learn how to pronounce English letters. For example, "g" as in "though," "h" as in "ghost," ... It turns out that every letter in English can be silent in some context, except for "j."

Speaking of photographs, the picture for this blog entry illustrates exactly why God invented black and white photography. It's transfixing, and seems never to stand still, or to exhaust its expression. And yes, I suppose I am babbling, but it's that perfect moment between artist and model that you can only get when each has very high regard for the other.

  • 0

I'd never heard the term "It factor" myself, but it sounds like corporate-speak for what used to be called simply "It." I'd thought it went back only to Clara Bow, who was the "It girl" (she'd starred in a 1927 movie called "It"), but when I just looked it up, it turns out to go back as far as Rudyard Kipling in 1904: "It isn't beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It's just 'It'."

Anyway, the movie "It" was inspired by a magazine article by Elinor Glyn, who said that "'It' is that quality possessed by some which draws all others with its magnetic force. With 'It' you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man ... Self-confidence and indifference whether you are pleasing or not and something in you that gives the impression that you are not at all cold." She went on to say that conceit destroys It.

"It girl" has come to mean something more along the lines of Paris Hilton or Kseniya Sobchak. However, in the original sense of the term as I understand it, I think instantly of Kei, though it's a good description in general of the women we are fortunate to see here. Not just charisma, and not a relatively superficial attribute such as cleverness or physical beauty, but something more resonant.

  • 2

This set was great fun. There's the sense that everyone was having a good time on a sunny day in an interesting place, and the mood is contagious. And I liked the concreteness of it, a real woman in a real place, not in some sort of abstract space.

Something I've always valued in your work is a sense of actuality. It isn't glamor photography, in the sense of imposing some airless cosmetic ideal and trying to fix "imperfections." Rather, it is interested in the world as it is found, and looks at its subjects as if they are treasures just as they are and always about to do something good. It's a loving eye, not a reductionistic one.

  • 0

Tastes differ, of course, and the black and white photographs were my favorites in a very good set.

  • 1

Loved this. Everything in it works together perfectly-- Virginia, the colors, the water, the mood, the light. It lightens one's heart to see it.

As for the length, I think that's just right, too, natural and spontaneous, enough to give the taste, not so much that it seems artificially prolonged. In general, I find the series on RylskyArt to have an artistic unity that's hard to achieve in the longer series that Met-Art prefers; they have a well-defined shape and they seem to end at just the right moment. The longer series have their own pleasures, of course, and it's good to have both.

  • 2

Recently I found myself thinking exactly the same words in response to a Rylsky set on Met-Art. Not just that the set itself was wonderful, but that that Flavia, say, had just been terrific at something that she cared about, and I was happy for her.

I thought later that it was interesting that photographs should foster that kind of connection and warmth towards their subject. But that's Rylsky in a nutshell, isn't it?

  • 1

Very glad to hear it. I had the same reaction as Neil; when I saw Jodie's picture on the page today I was transfixed -- quite literally, I just stopped, and for that moment nothing else existed. A remarkable woman.

  • 0

Cropping a picture is selecting part of the original image and discarding the rest. For example, given an image of someone's head and shoulders, you might decide to keep only the part of the picture that showed the head. (The verb "crop," in general, means to trim.)

  • 0

What's erotic depends upon meaning -- there isn't a fixed catalog of image types that always work or never work. In Victorian times, a woman deliberately showing you a bit of ankle would probably get your heart racing. It isn't that ankles are particularly exciting in themselves; it's what's being said.

I think I'm fairly representative in saying that spread lips in themselves are nice, but, as an isolated image, not a huge thing one way or another. But Sandra doing it just because she felt like it? That makes it wonderful.

I would guess that Neil was feeling uneasy because he was thinking of this as a situation in which a photographer was telling a model what to do. If that had been the case, sure, it could have been objectifying or exploitative. But that's not what's going on here.

One of the things that makes your work such a pleasure is that your models look relaxed and happy, in part, I imagine, because you respect their nature; you don't press them to do things they don't want, and you do give them room to express themselves. Thank God for both things.

Though who could stand in the way of Niagara Falls, anyway? More dignified to pretend you have a choice in the matter. :-)

  • 2

I've often been impressed by how productive you are, particularly since you've managed it without sacrificing quality. If anything, I've wondered if it was a sustainable pace. The effort is certainly appreciated, but please don't burn yourself out.

As for length, it seems to me that these series are nicely judged. They have a shape, and they end just when they should. There's a place for short stories as well as novels.

  • 1

And I say "perfect" as well.

I think that "puffy" was merely claiming that there were too many shots of one particular kind in the series, not that the set was too provocative. Personally, I hate that sort of drive-by whingeing, and I don't at all agree with that point. But in any case, I don't think anyone commenting here wanted the set to be more tame, but instead were rather happily surprised it wasn't.

Well done by all, and particularly by Taissia, who has a beautifully free spirit, as well as a lovely face. May we see a lot more of her, and may she be equally brave and happy when we do.

  • 2

Jodie is incandescently beautiful, both physically and in the warmth and joy she projects, and this setting is perfect for her. This series flows so naturally and so well that it seems to invent itself. It must have been difficult to stop shooting, but truly, if you've gotten something as good as that last photograph, you might as well quit while you're ahead.

  • 5

I guess it isn't really adding anything new to say wow. Wow, though.

  • 5

It worked! Evita twirled around, and she came out as Wonder Woman. Then again, I think she was Wonder Woman to begin with, so it's hardly a controlled experiment. (This is a reference to an old television program that's so famous even I know about it, starring Lynda Carter.)

I'm always struck by how lively and beautiful Evita's face is, and today she cheered me right up.

  • 4

Just when I was missing Cecile, there she is, and very welcome, too. #46 is a wonderful picture. It's as if she'd taken a break from modeling and was just being herself, and it's a really lovely smile, the kind that would make you feel good for days if you saw it in real life.

  • 4

Steffi has one of the most beautiful faces I've ever seen, not to mention a wonderful poise and self-assurance, and, my God, that smile. She is also very flexible. Put those things together in a single picture and you achieve nuclear fission.

The braids really do work, don't they? They bring out something sporty and playful. It's always a pleasure to see Steffi's long straight hair, but this is a very nice touch.

  • 4

My very warmest regards, Kei, and best wishes for the new year.

Your photographs have always given the sense of a radiant personality, but your blog still took me by surprise. It was pure sunlight -- such warmth, such delight in being alive. I felt happy for days reading it, and seeing how you responded to everyone, as one does when encountering someone with a really good heart. Rylsky put it well in his first anniversary greetings.

As for writing in English, it's impressive that you do it so well. English is an odd sort of language, because of its history. It's stripped down in certain ways -- when the Vikings occupied England, they didn't worry too much about learning all the details of the existing language, and many features dropped out. An English speaker has a terrible time when first exposed to noun declensions and gender. On the other hand, English is haphazard and complicated in other ways, because of influence from other languages. The spelling is incredibly arbitrary, to start with. Articles aren't peculiar to English, but they must be horrible to learn if you haven't grown up with them. I've spent some time trying to help a Russian friend of mine who lives in Ireland use articles, and it's quite difficult to explain when you use an indefinite or definite article, and when you omit the article altogether. He's very proficient otherwise, and in fact he has a very accurate northern Irish accent, to the point where most Americans take him for Irish, and many can't understand a word he says.

Most of the grad students in my university's linguistics department spoke English as a second language, and some of them made up a list to help new students learn how to pronounce English letters. For example, "g" as in "though," "h" as in "ghost," ... It turns out that every letter in English can be silent in some context, except for "j."

Speaking of photographs, the picture for this blog entry illustrates exactly why God invented black and white photography. It's transfixing, and seems never to stand still, or to exhaust its expression. And yes, I suppose I am babbling, but it's that perfect moment between artist and model that you can only get when each has very high regard for the other.

  • 3

Primissima, indeed. Dancers are always a delight, and Gladys is not only gorgeous, but poised, lithe, and graceful. And that smile!

  • 3

Really enjoyed this. "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way," as Juan Ramón Jiménez said. Cher must be a lot of fun to be around.

  • 3

I love this kind of set. No high drama, no simulated passion, just the sort of thing you can actually relate to, something like a nice sexy afternoon with your girlfriend on a rainy day, where she happens to be the prettiest girl in town, and the sunniest.

  • 3

If you'd asked me, I would have said that having a two woman set in which the women looked at the camera and not at each other was a terrible idea. Good thing you didn't ask me! Loved #48.

RA is a warm and cheerful place. Best New Year's wishes for everyone who makes it so, including the people behind the scenes.

  • 3

The last week has been the best ever on RA, I think, and how else could you end a week like that except with Kei? It was clear days ago that we must be building to that, and it's very pleasant that RA is a place where such logic prevails.

Kei is so warm, intelligent, and full of life that I can't imagine there will ever be a time in her life when she doesn't steal everyone's heart.

  • 3

Neil and fer_realz have already spoken for me, and better than I would have put it, so let me just second the motion. Cecile is lovely and warm, and always welcome, and the portraits at the end made me feel as if I were seeing her in a fresh way. She has a wonderful quality of openness and directness that gives her a great deal of presence, and just seems to get more beautiful as she goes on. She looks particularly good with a minimum of makeup, I think.

  • 3

It always lifts my spirits to see Jodie. She's so beautiful, and comes across as so genuine and unaffected that when she's feeling happy and playful you can't help but share her joy. When she smiles she seems to hold nothing back.

  • 3

Every time Liv appears I think she has never looked so beautiful. Which is just me feeling happy to see her, I suppose, but over time she has certainly gotten more relaxed, assured, and expressive, and, I think, even more lovely, as if she's realized just how attractive she really is. A wonderful range of expressions, and a smile that could change your life.

  • 3

Once I was having dinner with a friend of mine and we found we both had something to confess, so we both did it pretty much at once. She and I both blurted out that a certain woman we both knew was amazingly attractive.

When I told that woman about it, she said it made her feel as if she'd just eaten some butter. She grew up in one of the Baltic states, and I didn't know if that was an expression there, or whether it was a spontaneous reaction. In any case, I knew what she meant, that warm, clean taste you get in the back of your throat when you're content that something has gone just right. For example, I get it sometimes when I'm working on something and the ideas cohere in a new and surprising way, and lots of possibilities have opened up.

I thought of that when I saw the first picture in this set. In fact, I felt that taste in my throat as soon as I saw the thumbnail. It's the sort of smile that leaves you feeling good for days.

  • 3

Kei, it's wonderful to hear from you again. And to see you. Anyone who ever doubted the power of black and white photography need only look at the pictures on your blog entries. This one ought to be framed. As any good picture does, it says things that words really can't, but I loved the sense of movement within stillness, and stillness within movement, and the sense both of unselfconscious delight and of reaching out to share that delight.

I'm glad to see that your Spanish is coming along!

As for getting out into nature, yes, some of my most vivid and pleasant memories of being a child are from the first times I ever got to sleep under the stars, feel the cool night air on my skin, and listen to the sounds of small creatures going about their lives.

When I go to the woods I feel part of a set of relationships. Being mortal seems very natural there, because it's so clear that everything in the woods is connected, that your own place in it is like one voice among many in a piece of polyphonic music, and that it all existed long before you and will exist long after you. As Ecclesiastes put it, "Earth abides."

What I find is that, just as human beings tend to see animals as human, like Mickey Mouse, animals see humans as animals of their own kind. Dogs, for example, may see a human as a high-ranking member of their pack. (Which is why the advice to raise your arms above your head and wave them if you see a bear. Bears can't do that, and since bears don't like to share the same territory, you don't want a bear thinking you're another bear.)

I used to live in a place where a small herd of deer would graze in my back yard. I'd go out on my back doorstep to practice standing meditation and qigong, and they'd hang out a few feet away. They appointed one member of the herd to keep an eye on me, but he basically just laid on the grass and drowsed off. I study the Chinese internal martial arts -- t'ai chi, hsing i, pa kwa -- and some of the movements are modeled after deers, so it was nice to have the chance to see how they moved. Mainly, though, I just liked the company.

One day, it was just me and a male deer, and I did part of a pa kwa standing set where you touch the toe of your opposite foot, and then come up on one leg with your arms out from the shoulders, like a crane. To my surprise, the deer bolted behind a tree and hooted at me. You could tell he wasn't very happy to be in the position he found himself in, whatever it was. He left, and I didn't see the herd again for months. Finally I realized that if he saw me as another deer, what I'd done was to lower my antlers and then to raise them, which apparently was a challenge. It was my territory, and he thought I was claiming it.

I was doing standing meditation outside once when I felt something around the corner of the house, the way you feel someone looking at you, but in this case just a sense that something was there. It came around the corner, and turned out to be a cat. There were some feral cats in the neighborhood who were very wary about human beings, since they'd grown up without them. This one was female, and from her scent she was in heat. She actually walked right up to me, her head turned to the side, before she realized I was there, and ran away a few feet. Then she reconsidered, and gave me a look over her shoulder. If she saw me as a fellow cat, I was a male cat, after all ... I wanted to explain that I was flattered, but it would really never work.



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Vittoria's series always leave me feeling I've been given something very beautiful, with generosity and delight.

Not to reopen an old discussion, but while I enjoy the Petals series, I much prefer this kind of set. It's more natural and balanced, and has more emotional context. Oh, never mind all that, I just miss it when I can't see Vittoria smile!

Loved the last three pictures.

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Well said, and I agree completely. This set is a delight.

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Yes, French, Spanish, Swedish, and Latin, and I'm terrible in all of them, though I can read reasonably well. It's not that hard to learn to read a new language -- after a couple of very intense weeks I could manage fairly well in Spanish -- but listening, writing, and speaking are a different story. So my Spanish friends write me in Spanish, and I answer in English, which is easier for all of us.

What I find is that one language tends to compete with another. When I was living in Sweden, I thought and dreamed in Swedish, and found that my English was odd sometimes, because I was unconsciously translating from Swedish. I began to have trouble with American speech rhythms. The worst was when I was trying to learn Spanish, and found that if my concentration lapsed even a little, I'd start saying something in Spanish and the other half would come out in Swedish.

The oddest case of this was when I was in a subway in Stockholm. I was reading a Spanish newspaper, El Pais. A child got a bit close to the edge of the platform, and I thought "Det ser livsfaerligt ut." The part of me that was reading the paper tried to understand this as a Spanish sentence.

As for learning Spanish, that would open some doors. I used to be in charge of a group that included people from, among other places, France, Italy, and Spain. Spanish was the language they could all understand, even if they didn't speak it. That's partly, I think, because all of these languages evolved from Latin, and Spanish stayed closest to Latin, even closer than Italian. In fact, when I quoted a Latin proverb to my Spanish friends once, they had the same proverb in Spanish, and it sounded almost exactly the same, word for word.

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The set reminds me of something George C. Scott said about actors: "Third - and this is the quality that separates the great ones from the good ones - I look for a 'joy of performing' quality."

Ynesse has that quality. She's very beautiful, and could get by just being sultry, as she sometimes is. But what makes her really special is that mischief and joy that bubbles up as if it couldn't be contained, and makes what she does both sexy and fun.

Speaking of sexiness, I suppose this is an odd thing to comment on, but I really like that fine hair on Ynesse's abdomen, and the artful way she trims her hair further down so there's a clear line up to the navel and everything's clearly related. It's a subtly earthy touch on an elegant woman, and that line works well as a visual element. There's as much design in it as in a fine dress. And yeah, I like it that she's basically just being herself, too.

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Loved this set. There's certainly beauty in a glamorous presentation, but unless there's the sense that there's a real woman underneath it, playing with appearances for her own reasons, it can be distant and unengaging, and too calculated. Here that whole layer of extra stuff isn't there, and it's intimate and unguarded in a way that just being naked isn't. The third photograph, for example, goes straight to your heart, and the sixteenth, and all the rest. Many thanks to Sybil!

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It's always a pleasure to see Quillian again. They're pictures, of course, not real personal contact, but she gives the sense that she's someone you'd like to know. I like the way she relies on relatively subtle changes in expression and trusts us to tune into it.

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I've ranted on this subject at length a couple of times on Met-Art, I'm afraid, not because ratings matter in themselves, but because someone is actually using something so empty to make decisions. It's unlikely it influenced anybody, so I should have stuck to basics. Clarice put it so much better than I did.

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Viva looks great in those glasses, doesn't she? It's almost cruel to stop with that last shot! :-)

These backstage sets are always a pleasure.

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And Jodie!

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If you only shot portraits of Jodie -- well, if you did, it would be a huge missed opportunity, but it would still be a real treat.

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And that's why they call her Kira Joy! A wonder anything ever gets done at RA.

I always look forward to these videos. They're warm and cheerful, and give you the pleasant sense that you like somebody better because you've learned something about her. And they aren't just photo sets by other means -- they're films. They're about something, and stop before things get boring. You end up feeling good, as if something has gone exactly right.

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Possibly because the chocolate actually works pretty well, and the people who liked it didn't write in. Zelda plays off it very effectively, doesn't she? I don't think it's theoretically possible to be cuter than that.

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I've always thought Italian women were wonderful, and it's a pleasure to have Sade here, showing some of the reasons why. Such joy, such sensuality, such a sense of fun. She moves beautifully, and she really seems to enjoy being a girl, as the song goes. The video expresses that in a very nice way.

As for the length, opinions differ, clearly, but for me, it's just right. It gets in, makes its point very effectively, and gets out while things are still fresh. Any more would have dulled the edge.

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How good to see Vittoria again, particularly when she looks as happy to be there as we are to see her. And a very nice way to photograph her.

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Everything in this set comes together so well -- Evita, the dress, the setting. Evita looks soft, comfortable, and relaxed, and it's like spending a wonderful afternoon with your girlfriend, who teases you sometimes, in a light-hearted way.

It reminded me of one of my favorites, Mundial, where Evita wears that World Cup jersey. It brings out something playful and flirtatious in her, and focuses you more on how really beautiful she is in other ways. I almost put that on my list of favorite images, though, you know, it's nice when Evita doesn't cover up, too.

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I love this kind of playfulness, and, now that I think of it, I don't think I've seen it anywhere but at RA, and one or two Rylsky sets on Met-Art. Odd -- why shouldn't fun be more popular? I've heard it's really quite pleasant.

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More like "a small woman," I think -- Romance languages like to used adjectives to refer to entities they describe, for example "los pequenos," meaning "the little ones," that is, the children. Una Piccola is feminine, so that narrows it down. Sounds funny to me too, in any case, especially since I'd tend to read it another way.

I guess Una Piccola picked the name because she considers herself little, at 5'2" and 99 pounds. Actually, that makes her four inches taller than two of my old girlfriends, so I'm not sure I'd see it the same way. I remember walking down town with one of them and getting dirty looks, as if she was much too young, and it did look like that, since she had hair down to her hips and wore glasses. In fact, she was five years older than me, and was working on her Ph.D.

But Una Piccola by any other name would be just as wonderful! So pretty and positive, mischievous and full of life. Five minutes in the same room and you'd be moonstruck.

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Always a great pleasure to see Liv again. And it was rather nice how perfectly everything came together: Liv's sunny mood, the light, the setting, and the makeup. (I suppose there was a photographer involved somewhere, too.)

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Any woman who can do what Wendy does in Balleto has won my heart anyway, but she's particularly wonderful here -- relaxed, happy, and expressive. I love the way Wendy will take a really effective pose, and then roll her eyes at what she's just done. These videos are very good at capturing personality.

The red hair is a nice touch.

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It's always a great delight to see Kei, and she's particularly lovely, relaxed, expressive, intelligent, and simply alive here.

I especially enjoyed #13. Kei's beautiful smile, together with Nedda in the background, put it into a nice context.

The pose itself is my own favorite, to address a question Kei asked a long time ago. It's partly because of associations.

When I was very young I read Playboy, and it was a mixed experience. I don't need to explain one side of it. The other side, though, was that at that age I was trying to learn about how the adult world worked, as well as what women looked like when they were naked, and this was strange stuff, rather infantile and chilly. A friend of mine in Sweden remarked recently that he'd seen a documentary on High Hefner and that Hefner had been half Swedish, and had grown up without much household warmth. I'm half Swedish myself, and I could understand in what sense that might have been true. It wasn't what I particularly wanted, but Playboy was telling me that the world as a whole was like that, where, in particular, women were commodities for consumerist males, not potential partners, or even people in their own right. The women in the pictures were being glamorized as if they were cars being sold in a showroom, and you had no idea what was on their mind.

Then I came across something much different in an old issue of the magazine. It was a model from Texas sitting on a beach, with her legs drawn up and knees together. Not very explicit, given the angle, but what changed everything was her expression. She was wearing sunglasses and looking at you from the corner of her eyes, smirking at you in that salty Texan way, simultaneously telling you that she'd caught you sneaking a look, men being so predictable, and that she enjoyed it.

Doesn't sound like much, I suppose, but it changed everything. What the magazine was telling you in other cases would put you in a very odd position with respect to women. You'd just be trying to get something out of them, and it would be difficult to find an honest way to relate, let alone any human contact. But here was a woman with a personality showing she was a human being with an interest in this too. I found it madly arousing.

As an adult, I'm a long way past depending on bad magazines to tell me about the world. But having seen the alternative, I'm very grateful for RA, which is absolutely the opposite. Rylsky, after all, is a man who speaks of his love for his mother, and says that grandmothers know best, and who becomes vehement when anyone even seems to imply that women are second class citizens. He's one of the best photographers I've ever encountered, but, more than that, he has a loving eye. It's a live connection with women who express themselves beautifully. And there's playfulness and a social context, like Nedda showing up in the background of the shot, and the backstage sets, and the blogs.

Kei herself is ... well, I risk saying something banal, and certainly inadequate. But it's a wonderful thing knowing that someone like Kei is in the world, and I'm grateful that she has shared her warmth with us.






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Liv too? RA is really making this a month to remember.


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This is like seeing Di for the first time. No criticism of Paramov intended; there's just some very good chemistry here.

It's very hard not to say "Nensi," isn't it?

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By custom the Japanese used to express their appreciation for a performance by being silent; the more affecting the performance, the longer you were quiet. That makes a great deal of sense, but unfortunately it's not very communicative over the Internet.

In this particular case, the natural tendency is not to say anything. Everything has come together -- the radiant and joyously beautiful Steffi, the setting, the light, the makeup. The photography is wonderful, and has the kind of lucidity and skin tone that the late Stephen Hicks was known for. But all of that is obvious, isn't it? Better to be quiet and pay attention.

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Mirrors, always a good thing. And they make Jeff twice as cute, which I wouldn't have thought possible.

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Hi Kei,

I wasn't sure at first what discoveries to write about, but then it occurred to me that I'd learned something about how to walk. It could be described more directly, but in the spirit of things (and not, of course, because I just like to write long notes), I'll take the long way around.

There's someone in my t'ai chi class with multiple sclerosis (MS). It's an autoimmune disorder that attacks the myelin sheath that covers nerve cells, like the insulator on a wire. The consequences as the disorder progresses are, in part, a lack of motor coordination and severe rheumatism. His sister has MS as well, and she's been in a wheelchair for twenty years. I offered to help him with his t'ai chi, but really with his motor skills in general. The goal is to keep him on his feet as long as possible.

Now what has t'ai chi got to do with this, aside from being a form of movement? First off, it's a martial art. That would probably not be apparent if all you saw was people practicing a t'ai chi form, since it would look soft and relaxed. In fact, very little of the t'ai chi in the world has any real content, and couldn't be used martially. The fact that t'ai chi can be used in that way means that it has some functional utility.

For example, a two person exercise I did a long time ago had you bumping your partner with your shoulder. (That's a very vague description, of course.) When you made contact, you wouldn't really feel anything, but your partner would be launched into space and fly back until he hit the wall a few feet away. When it was done to you, it was like being picked up by a giant hand, very gently, and being carried through the air. This was just an exercise, and of no practical use, but it does demonstrate that the basic mechanics are very good, and that the force is being transferred in a highly efficient way.

My own interest in t'ai chi, and the related "internal" arts hsing i and pa kwa, is not primarily martial, but not understanding the martial aspects would be like pantomiming using a hammer without knowing what it was like to hit a nail. These arts are mechanically effective because they use the structure and intrinsic leverages of the human body in a precise way. Using muscular effort would actually interfere with this, and in particular with the transfer of force from the lower body through the upper body.

By Newton's Third Law, any action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you push something, you get pushed back with equal force, and similarly if you pull something. The main way around that is to use the structure of the body to relate all forces to the ground. You open up from the ground, and you close into the ground, rather than pushing and pulling.

That is to say, if you sit on a table, it supports you because its legs are relatively incompressible, so you get pushed back up by precisely the same amount as you're pushing down into the ground. The human skeleton actually allows us to use the ground in very flexible ways. For example, if I were to hold my arm in front of me, as if embracing somebody, and you pushed against it, it would be straightforward to divert the force of your push into the ground, and back up again, just like the table. I wouldn't be pushing back, but rather just receiving the incoming force and letting physics do the work, and all I'd feel would that that my back foot had a little more weight on it. From the other side, you'd feel as if you were pushing into the floor. If I did resist your push, then I'd lose the structure and it would all fall apart.

This is the same thing that happens with a building that uses an arch. The incoming force (the load) is being diverted by degrees until it's vectored into the ground. If you didn't use an arch, then the load would fall on top of a flat surface, like a bookshelf. The direction the force takes, the "thrust," does not follow the contours of the arch. Similarly, in that embracing position, the thrust actually crosses between the arm and the chest before being diverted down the body into the ground. You could induce it to follow the arm directly, but it's not very natural. If you were pushing on the arm, you could feel the difference.

So t'ai chi and related arts are very concerned with that relationship with the ground. They speak of the difference between "substantial" and "insubstantial," or "solid" and "empty." That is, you're concerned with whether a particular part of you is on the path between the force and the ground. If a part of you is "substantial," you have a feeling of solidity. For example, if you stand with your feet apart, and turn to one side, you'll note that the heel of one foot and the ball of the other feel heavy and the other parts of the feet feel light.

This is basic stuff, and it isn't specific to the martial arts. For example, farmers will use the same mechanics (including mechanisms not discussed so far). It's just something that the human body naturally does.

But why should it be so natural for human beings to ground a force this way? And what's all this got to do with walking?

It could be argued that what human beings are really good at, physically, is running and walking. We can literally outrun any other animal on earth, and in fact there are annual races between horses and people, and the people usually win. There are tribes that hunt antelopes by running them down. Obviously any of these animals would be faster over a short distance, but we're much better adapted to running long distances. This is in part, because of our skeletal structure. We're bipedal. So are other great apes, at least intermittently, but they have different spines and pelvises and legs; ours form a natural arch. In general, our breathing is not tied to our movement, and we sweat, which allows us to exchange heat efficiently as our bodies warm with exercise. A dog who ran for very long would be panting to cool off.

I'm not sure that sweating has much practical application, but the rest does. For example, to run very long, you need to deal with the shock of contact between your feet and the ground. That's why our skeletons form those natural arches, for example between our legs and in the soles of our feet, and why our spines can flex. Those arches are a primary reason that we can divert an incoming force into the ground.

Furthermore, as you walk, your tendons are stretched out and stretch back again, storing and releasing energy, just like stretching an elastic band and letting it snap back into shape. You also store up energy in your lumbar spine. You can feel that when you walk uphill. Your Achilles tendon stretches out and shortens again, making the walking fairly effortless. Your lower back bows out as you step uphill and then straightens as you continue to walk, shooting you up the hill like a bow shooting an arrow. You can see much the same mechanisms at work if you look at a slow motion movie of a horse running.

While there's much more to say about it, this has a lot to do with the way t'ai chi and related arts work. In very large part they're an extension of walking (and breathing). They're "natural" in the sense that we're evolved to walk, so they just take advantage of the natural structure of the body. In a sense, that means you don't need to do very much. In fact, what you mainly need to do is to unlearn your bad habits and let the tool do the work, that is, let the body work as designed. (That's actually quite difficult to get to, because life in a sedentary, agriculturally based society doesn't encourage much moving around, and leads to bad habits, but get past that and things take care of themselves.)

So that's what t'ai chi has to do with walking, and why it's a useful place to start if you want to look at it.

For example, suppose you walk up stairs. What people typically do is to plant a foot on the next step and pull themselves up, using the quadriceps. Roughly speaking, your foot is on the step, your knee is bent at a right angle, and you straighten it. This isn't very efficient, because the leverage isn't very good, and you get tired quite easily. What you can do instead is to ground yourself on the foot as you go forward. That is, as you shift into the leg you're becoming substantial on it, and the load is supported at every moment. You "sink" onto the leg, instead of pulling yourself up. This pops you right up without any effort.

Similarly when you walk. You become substantial on one foot, and the structure of the body, including the soft tissue, extends the other leg. That leg will feel substantial as it goes out, When your weight goes onto it, the leg is supporting you at all points, and as you become completely substantial on it, for an instant, the same bodily adjustment that made it substantial brings out the other foot. It's effortless, and mechanically very efficient. The leverage is optimal, and your tendons are stretching and shortening, and your back is bowing out and straightening. The movement as a whole is circular -- more exactly, a figure 8, which you can feel, for example, in the soles of your feet. Thus it's an unbroken movement, not stopping and starting, and you're constantly recycling energy as you walk, storing and releasing.

I'd been walking this way, because after you get t'ai chi and the other arts into your body a little you naturally do, but I'd never really analyzed it until I tried to explain it to my friend with MS. (You don't really understand anything until you try to teach it, do you?) So that was a discovery for me, and it showed me a lot about how things fit together.

For example, for this to work, you need to get past a lot of bad habits. I'd worked on those things myself for a long time, so I could explain them a bit to my friend, though I don't claim much proficiency. For example, nearly every man on earth walks by throwing out his right leg and using it to drag himself forward, and getting the left leg out but not really using it, as if it were a crutch, just a stepping stone to getting into a position to drag forward with the right leg again. (I don't know that women do this quite as much, so I won't comment.) That misaligns the right hip and twists the spine, and you end up using the gluteus to walk forward, where it's really meant just to stabilize your gait. It's not unlike pulling yourself up a step.

The muscles you really need to use are the hip adductors (the muscles that bring the leg towards the hip, that is the muscles "inside" the hip) rather than the hip abductors (the muscles "outside," like the gluteus). They let you keep your hips and spine straight, and thus they allow your spine to act as an axis. They connect your legs and your spine, and if you engage them, they form a natural arch between your legs, and lift up the arches of your feet. If you don't use them, your knees sag inward and you fall over your arches. In fact, you can't fall into the right hip if these muscles are active, and can't drag yourself forward with the leg. Thus those muscles tend to be underused.

To have an axis, which is basic to moving, you need your spine to be fairly straight. That's pretty straightforward. You release your lower back, so the curve of the lumbar straightens out somewhat, which leads your hips to roll under. Your coccyx then points straight up and down. The weight of your lumbar seems to pull on the upper spine, like an anchor chain straightening due to the weight of the anchor, and your neck straightens out. This tips the head slightly forward so that its weight is balanced evenly on the neck. It feels buoyant, "suspended," as they say, and tends to organize your movement. In short, you get out of the way and let your body adjust itself.

One thing I learned from showing this to my friend is that there's a psychological impediment to actually doing it. The physical part of it is pretty straightforward, at least if somebody talks you through it. Basically, you're just getting out of the way and letting your body work as designed. It's very low maintenance, as you'd expected, since we're evolved to work this way, and you don't need to do anything artificial. It's very simple and effortless. You just have to make sure you don't do anything extra on top of it, what the Chinese would call "painting legs on a snake." For example, if you move your legs independently of your body, instead of letting the basic mechanics take care of things, you throw everything off.

And that's what my friend finds hard. It's too easy, in a way. He wants to *do* things, while this is a matter of letting things happen. It's a kind of ego. He wants to be in the position of telling his body what to do, not just letting it work by itself. But that's what you need to do. It's a matter of unlearning the habits that obscure the working of the body as a well-"designed" machine, not of learning new habits.

So there's everyone's problem in a nutshell. We all do that, don't we? We want to be in control of ourselves, like a bad boss looking over the shoulders of his employees and telling them how to do their jobs, even though they know their jobs better than he does. And it's not so easy to get past that.

As for my friend, he started off very clumsy and uncoordinated, and you would have thought it was purely because of the MS, but it turns out that he can walk just fine -- better than most people, in fact -- once he gets past exactly the same bad habits that everyone else has. That may not continue to be the case as the MS progresses, but he's been pretty stable for ten years now, so at least it's not progressing quickly. Part of the difference is confidence, I think, and I think part of it is that the way people habitually walk is dynamically messy and requires appreciably more control than just letting the body work the way it's evolved to. If your nervous system isn't working well, you want to keep things as simple as possible.

A caveat: I don't claim to speak for t'ai chi practitioners in general; this is just what makes sense to me, at least right now. And nobody would ever mistake me for an engineer.

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The video would have been worth it just to hear Jeff's voice. For the rest, I agree that Jeff comes across much more strongly in video than in photographs, and I say that as someone who loves her photographs. Please thank her for the effort she put into it.

As for the length of videos, I agree with Roger Ebert that no bad movie is too short, and no good movie is too long. Lawrence of Arabia is 227 minutes long, and when I saw it I wasn't aware that any time had passed at all. In general, I think it's best if videos, or photographic series, are precisely as long as their internal logic says they should be, without a preset minimum or maximum.

When I wrote for a newspaper, I'd ask an editor how much room there was for the story, as measured in column inches, and I'd write the story exactly that long. If you know how stories are constructed, it's straightforward to do that, and I imagine it's similarly straightforward to make a video come out at five minutes. But it does constrain the story you're telling, not just the way you word things -- you restrict yourself to saying things that find their natural shape in that much space.

That isn't to argue that working within restrictions can't be good, or that longer is better than shorter. Scotty Moore, who played guitar on Elvis Presley's early recordings, got a lot more done in the few seconds he had to work in than Eric Clapton did when his playing sprawled over twenty minutes. I like it that the series at RA stay short enough to be well-defined. But you wouldn't have wanted Bach to think he had a time limit when he wrote the Chaconne, either.

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It's good to see Kei is so well loved (and that I'm not the only one who's missed her). She seems to have spent the time away becoming even more beautiful.

Kei is so warm, lively, playful, and engaged; you can feel her intelligence in every picture. Like Neil, I hope she will write another blog entry soon.

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Wonderful news! Neil is right; Jodie truly is special. She has a radiance that brings out the best in you, and it's not hard to see why her friends would call her "sun." When I first saw her picture I realized after a while that I'd forgotten to breathe. I'd thought that "breathtaking" was a meaningless cliche, but apparently not.

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How wonderful to see Kei again, so lovely, warm, and self-assured, and with that spark of mischief. If ever anyone's soul was in her eyes, it's in Kei's.

Kei's question some time ago about what poses are really essential was quite interesting, and didn't get addressed very much (partly because when she set the "passion juice" hare running, the dogs all ran in a different direction). For me, it's variants of #64 -- sitting or reclining. It's sensual and inviting, in a relaxed way, something that might come up in real life. And it depends very much upon mood and attitude and personality. Rylsky will sometimes photograph it showing only knees and face, which makes a great deal of sense.

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Michelangelo's Creation of Adam, you mean? It's a mirror image of the painting, but sure, that has to be deliberate. It's a fun picture, and so are all the rest of them. These backstage sets are always a great treat.

And full of mysteries. For example, those red fingertips in #13, almost like painted nails. And the mystery of how that pretty makeup artist in #26 and #27 learned such good calligraphy, and, much more important, how she came to be so worshipped by beautiful models. Surely this is a talent worth cultivating.

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This set was great fun. There's the sense that everyone was having a good time on a sunny day in an interesting place, and the mood is contagious. And I liked the concreteness of it, a real woman in a real place, not in some sort of abstract space.

Something I've always valued in your work is a sense of actuality. It isn't glamor photography, in the sense of imposing some airless cosmetic ideal and trying to fix "imperfections." Rather, it is interested in the world as it is found, and looks at its subjects as if they are treasures just as they are and always about to do something good. It's a loving eye, not a reductionistic one.

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Recently I found myself thinking exactly the same words in response to a Rylsky set on Met-Art. Not just that the set itself was wonderful, but that that Flavia, say, had just been terrific at something that she cared about, and I was happy for her.

I thought later that it was interesting that photographs should foster that kind of connection and warmth towards their subject. But that's Rylsky in a nutshell, isn't it?

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I've often been impressed by how productive you are, particularly since you've managed it without sacrificing quality. If anything, I've wondered if it was a sustainable pace. The effort is certainly appreciated, but please don't burn yourself out.

As for length, it seems to me that these series are nicely judged. They have a shape, and they end just when they should. There's a place for short stories as well as novels.

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Jodie is incandescently beautiful, both physically and in the warmth and joy she projects, and this setting is perfect for her. This series flows so naturally and so well that it seems to invent itself. It must have been difficult to stop shooting, but truly, if you've gotten something as good as that last photograph, you might as well quit while you're ahead.

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Xenta's rather wonderful, isn't she? I particularly appreciated #43. Xenta brings such heart to it.

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So good to see Melody again! That song was on my mind, too:

A pretty girl is like a melody
That haunts you night and day

But it's puzzling. I could swear I've heard the "lingers in your mind" line, and it certainly scans, but where did it come from? It wasn't in Irving Berlin's 1919 version, in "The Great Ziegfield," and it isn't in any version of the lyrics I can find online or on YouTube. (After Pat Boone I couldn't take any more, admittedly.) Do you know the source?

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The looks on Taini's face in #17 and #50 say it all, don't they? A lovely set in many ways, and thanks to everyone. Happy New Year!

  • Fred
  • 12 months ago
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An afterthought. It's Mila's life, and we should appreciate the opportunity to visit. It's not up to us to make judgments, any more than you would complain to someone about their taste in furniture after they've invited you into their home. Rather, it's a time when you should open yourself up to the world and let it surprise and delight you.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and there was a photograph in one of Mila's MA sets which said that a lot better. It was a close up of her tattoo. Since the tattoo is controversial, you might imagine that as a way of saying that you should take Mila for who she is and what she chooses for herself. But talk is cheap. The picture made the tattoo look interesting.

  • Fred
  • 12 months ago
  • 1

Well said.

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A really beautiful set, making wonderful use of color, while it feels like black and white photography underneath. And just when it looks as if it's going to get too classical, there's Clarice making a face! Well done.

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It's such a pleasant surprise to see Vittoria again, and so good to see her looking so lovely and relaxed. She gives the sense that what is taking place is wonderful, a generous, loving exchange, and it really is.

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Fer, thanks for explaining (and for your honesty in talking about it). No one is ever going to convince anybody that something is erotic if they don't spontaneously find it so, of course, any more than you can make a joke funnier by talking about it. But it is interesting to discuss these things.

I hope my original point was clear, which is that this isn't my own cup of tea, but I'm happy that people who do like it are getting what they enjoy. (I had you in mind when I was writing, since you speak about this fairly often.) And, more selfishly, I'd find it stale to be stuck inside an environment purely of my own choosing, so, for example, I wouldn't have seen the nice things Casia does in this set. A friend of mine told me that her first assignment for a photography course consisted of walking around the city shooting pictures completely at random, without looking. She said the pictures she got that way were much more interesting than the ones she would have taken deliberately.

For myself, yes, development is important, but lingerie doesn't really play that role for me, and, after all, there are other kinds of clothes to take off. There are a lot of other approaches, and I think Rylsky could write a book on that. Other than Rylsky, Albert Varin comes to mind, and Natasha Schon, that sense that you're in the room with a real woman, and you're becoming extremely aware of her, and she of you. Varin's sets with Bretona build up in a very nice way over time, so you have the sense you're getting to know her better and better with each set before the sets become more purely erotic. I don't think you could really get that sense of a relationship in a single set. Similarly here at RA. Vittoria, or Kei, or Evita, for example, are wonderfully warm and expressive, and you get to know them through time, until you grow to love them a little.

Personally, I like to take people as they are, and I tend to find glamour artificial and not very nourishing, though it can be fun sometimes. I'm happier with clothes that are comfortable and natural, with all the associations that come with that, since, for example, it's wonderful to feel a woman's body through a t-shirt, or to reach under it as if it were a warm tent and touch her bare skin.

A lot of what's erotic is seen out of the corner of your eye, not while you're staring at it, for example when your girlfriend is busy doing something, and it puts you right in the mood. I think of a girlfriend I had in college, who was a virgin when we got together. She started wearing a thin blouse with nothing under it whenever we were in her dorm room, sort of college student's lingerie. I was charmed by the gesture, and liked it that she enjoyed doing it, but it didn't really work in the way she intended. It was too programmatic. You want the contrast between when you're thinking of sex and when you're not, and you can't be thinking of sex all the time, or it's so diluted it doesn't mean anything. Or, if it does mean something, it's obsessive, and it's about something else entirely.

That sense that you're relaxed with someone, that you're fascinated with her as a human being, in a walking down the street, everyday way -- that seeing her sitting in the kitchen, just being herself, eating an orange in her sweatshirt and her favorite jeans, is magic -- is what appeals to me most. That doesn't preclude teasing and display. But for me lingerie is usually an awkward bridge between the everyday and the erotic, a little depersonalizing, sort of an invitation to objectify at a time when you want to get close. For me it represents a gesture that's already been made, and an attempt to repackage something that was just fine as it was, thank you, so I tune out.

Obviously that's not the only way to look at it, and I wouldn't claim that's the only way I ever do myself. Nobody is just one thing, after all. I doubt we differ on anything fundamental, and anyway, de gustibus non est disputandum.

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It's true that it isn't for everyone. I deeply don't understand why lingerie is supposed to be interesting, and Evita Lima in a World Cup t-shirt is much more fun for me. But it's good that the world doesn't let you live in your own bubble, yes?

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She really is, isn't she? Such a pleasure seeing a woman who's so poised and beautiful just having fun. Launs smiles, and you feel good about life.

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I loved the way the beginning of the set built up, slowly teasing, and then something like a jump cut to #7. It's something Rylsky likes to do, those eye-opening transitions, and it really works, at least if you step through the photos one by one instead of looking at the thumbnails.

Of course, I may be biased by the fact that #7 through #13 is a wonderful sequence of my favorite pose ...

Solana looks wonderful here, as always. The color of the dress was a nice touch; it's so rich it looks almost ceremonial in #33-#40, where the glossy surface isn't so apparent. And that look Solana gives in #48 would raise the dead.

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Melody is not only beautiful but incredibly alive, and her expressions seem to say that this is the most fun you could have without your clothes on. She's amazingly attractive.

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#41 is a wonderful photograph.

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Hi Nikia,

I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying this kind of blind date. From my own experience, it's not likely to be life-changing, but it can be quite pleasant, and it's not out of the question that you'll meet somebody you'll connect with.

Some time ago I knew a woman in a martial arts class who was starting a business as a matchmaker, so I filled out a questionnaire and she set me up with three potential matches. One dropped out after a phone call. The other two were interesting.

The first woman worked as a psychologist in a psych ward. She started off by showing me pictures of her cat, so at least I'd get that much out of the evening, she said. I didn't see it going anywhere, but we got along pretty well, and shared some of the same academic background. She started a game where she mentioned Hollywood movies having to do with characters with mental disorders and we were supposed to diagnose them. I guess this is the kind of thing psychiatrists talk about at parties. Not in my usual line of interests, but the evening was friendly and fun.

The second woman was divorced and had a small child. There was an instant connection, though I don't know how it would have worked out long term; I'm not very domestic, though I have a friend who isn't, either, and he's been married for fifty years. In any case, I was thinking of taking an assignment in a different country, and after a few dates we left it at that. We didn't know each other well enough at that point for me to change my plans, and she was a single mother. I can't say that I knew her long enough that this is a major regret, and who knows if anything would have happened if the timing had been different, anyway. Still, it's interesting to think of paths not taken.

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There are times when I think, "So Rylsky's decided to drop the nuclear bomb ..."

Xenni, or Kate, she's amazing! And we haven't seen nearly enough of her.

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Reminds me of Oscar Wilde's deathbed remark: "This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do."

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Loved Kei's expression in #6. Wonderful to see her again!

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Really nice. Melody's very attractive, and the video's focused on her in a nice, relaxed way, not exploiting her, but rather giving the sense that she's sharing something she likes to do, and taking her time to experience things properly.

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That would be wonderful.

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Rina and Witta are both very attractive, and it was pleasantly sexy to see them together. But as well as that, they're both very likable, and it was refreshing to see them relaxing and having some fun. It leaves you feeling warm and good.

All of which doesn't sound very dramatic, but it gives me deep pleasure. This is the way things ought to be with two woman sets, a genuine interaction, whatever it turns out to be, nothing forced. Much more engaging than something imposed from outside. Well done all around.

  • 1

I can't possibly narrow it down to five, so I'll cheat shamelessly and make it five videos and five photographs. So shoot me.

In no particular order, starting with videos:

- Janelle and Taissia, "Wanna." Why? If you've got to ask, you'll never know, as Louis Armstrong would say. Favorite image: Taissia driving Janelle mad, and gloating at the effect she's having.

- Vittoria Amada, "Mamecu." Vittoria looks so beautiful and graceful in this, but so open and real. Favorite image: Vittoria starting to make a dramatic entrance, and the gate's getting stuck, and her charming expression when it does. It sets the tone for the video -- warmth and a love for the way people actually are, as opposed to surfaces and chilly perfection. Vittoria, if anybody, could have stuck to looking perfect, and it's wonderful she hasn't.

- Rina, "Das Model." Rina ordinarily looks so serious in her photographs, and here she shows another side, girlish and happy. Favorite image: well, a lot, really, but especially Rina laughing, or the humorous, self-deprecating looks she gives sometimes.

- Sandra Lauver, "Kedvteles." I suppose it will sound odd, but one of my first thoughts was that some women worry about how their genitalia come across, and if they could only see this, they'd realize how beautiful they are. This is gorgeous. Favorite image: Sandra's flesh glistening like a jewel as she strokes it.

- Alexandra, "Club Life." This is ingenious and fun, but not only ingenious, because it brings out Alexandra's personality perfectly. It must have taken a lot of work to get right. Favorite image: any of the ones in which Alexandra is relating to herself.

Oops, no room left to mention Jeff's "Yes, I am!", or ...

As for photographs, it's impossible to choose five, and it would drive me crazy to be too considered about it, so I'll be completely arbitrary, and just list some nice images at random.

- Guerlain and Irina J, "Play Again" cover photograph. Guerlain's face as their hips touch really makes the photo, but it wouldn't work unless she had Irina's expression to play against. That in itself makes it sexier, because it shows their chemistry. I don't know how well the reference will translate, but in a way it reminds of the modern revivals of burlesque shows.

- Erica, "Gefirare," the cover photograph. The cover, but any of the rest of the set would do. I love black and white photography in itself, but this isn't B&W for its own sake, but a tool that's well chosen to bring out something about Erica. Here she projects the sense of a femme fatale: adult, irresistible, and probably dangerous to know, not that it's going to stop you.

- Any of the Backstage sets.

- Any of the photographs in which a woman relates to another woman who's outside the frame. They're imaginative and very sexy. (I don't, however, mean to exclude pictures where the other woman is inside the frame, such as "Softouch," which are always a treat.)

- The photograph used for Kei's first blog entry. There seems to be such incredible warmth between Kei and her photographer, and that's Kei in a nutshell: warm, intelligent, and generous.


I feel as if I've just completed one of Evita's questionnaires, and am about to learn what kind of personality I have. Hopefully not ... Though thinking of Evita reminds me of how very much you have to leave out when you make a list like this.

  • 1

A wonderful idea! Neil is a gentleman, and we all appreciate his warmth and enthusiasm.

  • 1

A very welcome set, with Yolanda more in the role of artist's model than glamor model, and looking all the more interesting for it. #7 is a wonderful photograph.

  • 1

Now that is why God created black and white photography. Beautiful, elegantly done, and admiring rather than exploitative.

  • 1

Gefifare gets the nod, for the black and white, and for the terrific photograph. I'm voting for a set, that is, not a model, because any man who went out of his way to choose among these wonderful women would not be not a gentleman (and because my parents didn't raise any dumb children).

These all look good. I hope that the last set won't appear TOO much later.

  • 1

I'm not a fan of cigarettes, but I'm not sure why those two pictures got such a negative reaction. Nikia's idea to do them was fun, and they come off well. And it isn't as if she's inhaling or exhaling smoke, after all. No models were harmed in the production of these still pictures.

It's always interesting when black and white and color versions of photographs are set next to each other this way. My response is usually that the black and white blows away the color completely, though each has its virtues. In this case, it's a closer call, which is unexpected, because smoke comes off so well in black and white. After all, that's one of the reasons cigarettes show up in the sort of glamour photography Nikia had in mind.

  • 1

There's something beautiful about the emotions that Vittoria projects in these pictures which strikes me as the way a wife or a long-term lover relates to you -- warm, relaxed, content. She's familiar with what you like and she knows how you respond to her, so her actions have a warmth and genuine intimacy that can only develop when two people have loved each other well.

The black background is perfect, and the lighting hits just the right note, not so bright that it comes across like a spotlight on a stage. Well done all around.

  • 1

That's exactly what this set evoked. As I looked at I was thinking "Yes, that's what it feels like to love a woman." Well, leaving out the rubber gloves, of course.

John Barth started off a novel by having the protagonist accidentally see himself in a mirror as he's having sex, and being overcome by the absurdity of it all -- how seriously he's taking it, and how silly it looks from the outside. And yes, we are absurd creatures. It's love that redeems us.

  • 1

You'd think that, as a psychologist, Evita would understand that she's driving us all crazy. And from her expressions, she surely does ... Very beautiful, self-assured, mischievous, and fun.

  • 1

Since everyone seems to be commenting on the subject, I hate pantyhose, period, and I'm pretty sure most women do, too, convenience aside. I think they're ugly and that they make a woman's skin smell stale, and I even dislike the sound they make. I haven't seen them for years, and had hoped I'd never see them again.

So tearing them up? Go for it, Sybil! Nothing became them in life like the leaving it, to quote Macbeth. Which is to say, the best part of their existence was when they got ripped up. And, in fact, I thought the shredding was sexy and fun, in a one-off kind of way.

  • 1

While there's no question that Rylsky is a photographer first and foremost, I always find these videos a special treat. They're fresh, they have ideas, and they have a wonderful sense of time and space and movement. They leave you feeling that you've seen something new about their subjects, and that you've been in warm and graceful company.

It's an odd detail to talk about, I suppose, but I liked not only the use of text, but the way it was written on the screen. A video like this is like a piece of music, and the typing got its rhythms right. For all I know that was a complete accident, and I'm just projecting onto it, but it gave a sense of lagging the beat a little, the way you do when you're thinking what to say.

  • 1

Janelle, warm, relaxed, and lovely,sometimes showing off a bit and about to break into a grin. A very nice feeling to this set.

  • 1

Vittoria has such grace and poise, yet such warmth. It wouldn't have been December without her.

  • 1

If Evita was wearing a potato sack, she'd still stop traffic, with her smile and her beautiful face, and her open, playful attitude. The t-shirt in Mundial wasn't quite like that (actually, it was very sexy), but it helped show how really appealing she is just by personality alone. Of course, leave off the potato sack, and you have something completely astonishing.

  • 1

Great fun, and just the right length. There'd be a fleeting expression and you'd have to go back to see what it was. These videos always seem to show a side of their subjects' personalities you hadn't seen before.

  • 1

What a lovely, inviting, self-assured smile Melissa has. Those last four images were wonderful.

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Well said, Neil. I'd thought that I had things to do, and would just browse this set a little, but I couldn't tear myself away. Hadya really is a delight.

  • 1

It was a very pleasant surprise to see Anna again, and I hope that she will appear often enough from now on that it won't be a surprise. She's beautiful, and she's been missed.

Anna seems to have a natural instinct for what will make a good picture. That is, she seems aware of the mood and the lighting and the composition of each photograph and to slot right into it, as if she knew exactly what it ought to look like. She looks intelligent and aware and inhabits the frame completely. Rylsky, in turn, knows exactly what works for Anna herself, and this is a really interesting series of photographs. (And it's the first time I've actually seen the point in a picture of a foot.)

I liked the lack of makeup in the first part of the set. Anna looks particularly wonderful when she isn't wearing much of it, particularly eye makeup.

  • 1

I once had an odd conversation with a woman I used to live with, together with her husband, who she'd married after we broke up. She claimed that the Diana Rigg of the Avengers series wasn't attractive. She was the one who'd brought up the subject, and she was dogmatic about it, although she has no interest in women herself. Her husband and I felt very differently about it, and so has every man I've ever asked.

Diana Rigg was good looking, though that doesn't explain why, when she walked onscreen in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, I actually stopped breathing. You could point to particular qualities, such as her wit and intelligence and way of being in the world, but they don't really capture the melody, and it's hard to see how it could ever come out in photographs.

Looking at this set brought that to mind. I came out of it thinking that if Leesa walked into a party, you'd be doing your best to convince your girlfriend you hadn't noticed, and she wouldn't believe you anyway.

How do you represent something like that in pictures, or at least imply that it's there? From what I can see, you photograph a real human being, and show some of her infinite variety. You give her room to relate to the camera in an authentic way. You take very good photographs, and you assemble them in a way that means something. No trick to it at all, really.

There were a lot of photos in this set that could easily have been black and white, and I wished that they were. Whenever Rylsky has done color and B&W versions of the same scene, the black and white has always come off stronger. Leesa would be natural for that.

  • 1

Exactly. That movie was a joy in many ways, and one of the best parts was about a minute from the end, when Irina gives Virginia that cross-eyed look. In general Irina's and Virginia's eyes and faces were so expressive in that movie that you kept thinking about them, and it was very pleasant to see Irina again at just the right time, and in this particular way.

For some reason -- the bed and the pillows, I suppose -- this set made me think of La maja desnuda and Velázquez's Rokeby Venus. A centered, graceful, classical feeling about it, and set against the sheer liveliness of Irina in the movie it makes you think of lightning in a bottle.

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This set made me think of the sort of mood you might see in musicians after they've finished for the night, when they're sitting and playing a little, for themselves or for each other, without the sense of performance. I don't know that exactly describes what's going on here, but Vittoria seems more laid back than usual, and she's lovely in an unforced way and very expressive. This set was a great pleasure.

The mirror shots were clever and effective. There's been a lot of photography with mirrors, and almost certainly I'm missing something, but I don't recall seeing anything like the images here. The series of shots starts with Vittoria flirting with herself in the mirror, which is standard, but always fun. Then it becomes really interesting, starting at #18, when she seems to be checking the "other woman" out. That's sexy, as it always is when a woman looks at herself, or another woman, in erotic photography; I'm not sure why it works, but it really does. But it's an impossible image, like an Escher lithograph. She's can't possibly be looking at what she seems to be, since she's facing the wrong way. She'd have to be behind the woman in the foreground, reflected in the mirror, but she can't be, since she'd be blocking the camera.

While I like the "Petals" series, I think it's much nicer if the same material is integrated into a normal set, as here. No one seemed to mind, so perhaps there's hope.

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I'm sure it will. Met-Art's computer staff seems to be very competent and hard working, and if this involved a server change, it's to their credit that things weren't a lot worse.

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I'm not quite picturing Liv and Luciana together, but that's why it would be interesting, I guess. Anyway, you'd have Liv, and you'd have Luciana, and how could that be anything less than wonderful? So sure, amen, and I'll throw in a Hell YEAH! if you like.

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Lija's Swedish, so it's squabble. I wonder why the title.

Swedish and Finnish are very different; they're in different families of languages -- Indo-European and Finno-Ugric (roughly, Uralic), respectively. Indo-European languages include any European language you've probably run into, while Uralic languages include Finnish, Hungarian, and Estonian. A Korean I know sat down with a Finn and compared languages for a while, and concluded that Finnish was a lot like Korean, but take that for what it's worth.

I lived in Stockholm for a few years, and learned some Swedish, and studied Finnish for a while, mainly to get experience with a non-Indo-European language, and can say firsthand that they don't have a lot in common. Vocabulary's the least of it, but, for example, Sweden is "Sverige" in Swedish, and "Ruotsi" in Finnish. It seems unlikely that squabbles and stones have anything to do with each other here, but stranger things have happened.

Finland was part of Sweden for some centuries, and one reason that Finnish survived was that the Swedes tried to ensure that it did. Still, to get a lot of jobs in Finland, I've heard, you need to know at least Swedish in addition to Finnish, since otherwise you can't really talk to the rest of the world.

According to the Russian Primary Chronicles, Russia got its name from a group of Varangians (Varyags) called the Rus', who were invited in to rule the country at a time when the local tribes fought incessantly. It's probably a longer story than that, but anyway the Rus' appear to have been Swedish Vikings. (The word Rus' seems to have come from an area in Sweden called Roslagen -- a compound Ros + lagen, where "lagen" means law -- which would give it the same Old Norse origins as the Finnish word for Sweden, Ruotsi.) From what I've heard from a Lithuanian friend, a different account was given in the Soviet days, but there seems to have been an agenda behind that.

I'm half Swedish, and it pleases me to think that Russia and Belarus were named after some of my thug ancestors, the Vikings. In any case, they got around. All the major cities in Ireland were founded by Vikings, for example. In Dublin they do a touristy thing where people put on horned helmets and sail on Viking boats. Of course, whatever horned helmets that ever existed were purely ceremonial -- you'd get killed very quickly if you actually fought in something like that.



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It's presumably Russia --> Spain, since Sharon's biography talks about how she likes to visit Spain and learn about Spanish culture. I can certainly understand that. Go to Madrid, and you begin to feel that this is an obviously sensible way to live, and nobody else catches the spirit of things quite right. (This is particularly likely to happen, I find, if you're there because you've met a Spanish woman.)

Of course, Spain is not a completely uncomplicated country.

  • 1

It is impossible to take an unflattering picture of Liv. That's just the way the universe works, and I'm sure that _fer_realz_ understands that. What he probably meant to say is that we'd all like to see more of her.

As well as just being fun, I find these pictures absolutely endearing, in a way that a more glamorous approach wouldn't be. It would be rather horrible if your girlfriend or wife just smiled and posed for you all the time; you wouldn't feel you knew her, or that she was acting like a real human being. Those moments when she bites into a lemon are the ones that really find their way into your heart.

I shouldn't admit to this, but I got sucked into seeing the Spice Girls movie once, and, although it was as terrible as you'd think, it had one good line. The Spice Girls are rehearsing, and, as always, it's manufactured pop music, with nothing to get hold of. "That was absolutely perfect, without actually being any good," their musical director snaps. Yeah. If something is "perfect," it can just mean that it's highly optimized along very artificial lines. Much nicer, every now and then, to have something more real.

  • 1

I enjoy the videos at RA quite a lot, and I like it that they're tight and well-constructed, as opposed to the "let's throw a lot of mud at the wall and see what sticks" approach. They have ideas, they don't belabor them, and they're crisp. They don't make your mind wander while you wait for something to happen.

Logically, that doesn't say anything about whether 3-6 minutes is the right sort of length. I don't have strong opinions about that, except to say that in the existing videos it's felt right. Actually, I thought the video with Alysha was nice just as it was, and didn't need to be longer.

On the other hand, I respectfully disagree with part of the rationale (though not all of it). I don't think that porn is relevant here. That might be a matter of how you define porn versus erotica, and that's a whole story in itself, but for me porn is a specialized genre having to do with a certain part of the cycle of sexual response. It's concerned with the part of the cycle where you're feeling fairly aggressive and want satisfaction in an urgent and not necessarily personal way: you've got a maddening itch to scratch, you want to see and feel and taste some breast, you want to be in some vagina, you want it now, and you don't want complications.

In contrast, I'd say that erotica is concerned with the sexual cycle as a whole, which also includes tenderness, an intense feeling that the object of desire is a real and important and very specific person, and that shared desire brings people together. That isn't to say that porn is bad and erotica is good, just that erotica represents a wider range of experience. You could pin that down in a laboratory, using scans to see what parts of the brain are active at different points.

Defining things that way, RA is erotica, not porn. I can think of no case where the identity of the woman or women in the frame was not absolutely paramount. You might have a highly sexual closeup of a breast, but it's never just anybody's breast, it's Kei's or Vittoria's or Evita's, for example, and that's why it matters. Take the video of Alysha. You feel someone wants to show you things he loves about her. Looking up her skirt is on the list, but it's not taken out of proportion. At the end you feel that Alysha is more real to you than she was before, and that you understand and like her better and value her more, not that she's been put at your disposal. In fact, the best part is the very end, which isn't sexual at all, though it is very endearing.

That's simply different from the way porn works. Porn is about the kind of emotional narrowing that occurs when you're highly aroused or very afraid or very angry. It tends to be restricted to a correspondingly narrow set of sounds and images. It objectifies in a simpleminded way -- as the Yiddish proverb goes, "When the prick goes up, the head goes out the window." So it's inherently something you're not going to watch for very long; unless you intend to use it to achieve orgasm, it's not that interesting. (Not that it's that black and white, and Andrew Blake is certainly an exception.)

You could have exactly the same sexual focus in erotica, but it would be part of a larger context. It might be intense, and orgasmic, but not obsessive or depersonalizing. And that opens the door it a lot of things that are visually interesting and emotionally engaging. For example, everyone loves photographs of a model walking down the street in a normal way, and just living her life. For porn that would just be a complication.

So I don't think that porn is germane. There's just more to look at, and connect with, in erotica, so it stands up to a longer viewing. It can build up more slowly, and have more variety. Is 3-6 minutes a good length anyway? It does seem to be, in the cases I've seen, though I wouldn't want to close the door to something longer.

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There's an old story involving an American tourist in the Louvre who tells her companion that the paintings are really very nice. A guard comes by and tells her, "Madame, it is not the paintings that are on trial here."

That's the French being snarky, of course, but there's something to it, and it came to mind when I saw this set. There are thousands of sets in this general style, but this one just works. It gives you the feeling that good art does of being exactly right in ways you don't understand, and of elevating you for having seen it. It stops feeling like an artifact and takes on a life of its own.

I couldn't explain why. But I can say that everything seems perfectly attuned to Vittoria, including the setting, which suits her completely. Vittoria is gorgeous and graceful and what she does is incredibly erotic, but what really gives that meaning is the beautifully positive emotions she expresses. She looks right at you and you feel she's giving you something out of happiness and love. You carry that feeling for days.

Now, of course, these are photographs, and for all I know Vittoria, in real life, steals from the poor and roots for the wrong soccer team. But the sense I have of her is of someone who not only has a sense of style, and expands her life in a number of interesting directions, but also retains the best qualities she had as a child. The world would be a better place if that were true of all of us.

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Someone once tried to address a certain martial artist as "Master." "Don't call me 'Master' until you put me in the grave," he said. "I want to keep learning." At that point in his life he had practiced the arts for 70 years, starting off in China when he was 10 years old, but he felt he had only scratched the surface. He wasn't about to let himself get locked into a role where he couldn't just mess around and try things out.

There's a story in a book called the Chuang Tze along the same lines. Chuang Tze is fishing in the river when two envoys come to him from the Emperor to ask him to lead the state. He will be greatly honored, they say. Without even bothering to turn his head, he asks if they've seen the temple down the road, which has a turtle on the altar. The turtle has been there a hundred years, and it is surrounded by jewels and flowers. Do you want to be that turtle, Chuang Tze asks, or would you rather be the turtle over there on the bank of the river who's swishing his tail in the mud? They take the point and leave.

It's implied that Chuang Tze was a good choice precisely because he was the kind of turtle who'd rather be in the mud. The turtle on the altar? Not very interesting company.

As for the martial artist, when he died, his gravestone read "Blessed are the peacemakers." (I'm not sure if that's recognizable in translation, but it's from the King James Bible, Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount.) After more than ten years, we still miss him very much.

  • 1

This set is wonderful, and I hope it will be remembered the next time "experiments" come up. And compliments to whoever is finding the locations, which have always been a very strong feature of RylskyArt.

  • 1

Interesting, fer_realz. You were doing extremely well if you could pick up anything just on the basis of a semester of French ten years before, particularly since language courses don't usually prepare you very well for the way languages are actually spoken.

Speaking of French, I learned something a few years ago. I was in a long supermarket line behind a pair of well-dressed women. They were quite cheerful and not at all impatient, which I liked in them, and were speaking in a language I couldn't at all identify. That puzzled me until I tuned it in differently and realized it was French. In fact, once you made the adjustment, it was beautifully clear French, which I had no trouble understanding.

It reminded me of the complaints I'd heard from Canadian French speakers that the French were so snobbish that they refused to understand what they were saying. However that may be, I can imagine that there might have been something real going on. (Of course, things do work both ways. A friend of mine from Quebec was dogmatic about the difference between dialects. French Canadian was the true French, she said, the French spoken before the French Revolution, after which European French became vulgar.)

There are ways of making a language easier to hear for a non-native speaker. Someone whp's very good at this is the opera singer Cecilia Bartoli. On an early video she has a long conversation with her producer, who's English, and she pitches everything she says so clearly that it seems to pour directly into your brain. It took me a while to even notice that she was speaking Italian.

Later in the video she's driving in Rome and gets cut off, and shouts something like "Porca putana! Que cazzo fai!", and giggles that she's said that on camera. (At least, that's what I think she says, since they cut the sound.) If there's anyone on earth who could meet Cecilia and not love her, you wouldn't want to know them.

  • 1

Loved this. Everything in it works together perfectly-- Virginia, the colors, the water, the mood, the light. It lightens one's heart to see it.

As for the length, I think that's just right, too, natural and spontaneous, enough to give the taste, not so much that it seems artificially prolonged. In general, I find the series on RylskyArt to have an artistic unity that's hard to achieve in the longer series that Met-Art prefers; they have a well-defined shape and they seem to end at just the right moment. The longer series have their own pleasures, of course, and it's good to have both.

  • 1

Very glad to hear it. I had the same reaction as Neil; when I saw Jodie's picture on the page today I was transfixed -- quite literally, I just stopped, and for that moment nothing else existed. A remarkable woman.

  • 1

And I say "perfect" as well.

I think that "puffy" was merely claiming that there were too many shots of one particular kind in the series, not that the set was too provocative. Personally, I hate that sort of drive-by whingeing, and I don't at all agree with that point. But in any case, I don't think anyone commenting here wanted the set to be more tame, but instead were rather happily surprised it wasn't.

Well done by all, and particularly by Taissia, who has a beautifully free spirit, as well as a lovely face. May we see a lot more of her, and may she be equally brave and happy when we do.

  • 0

Seeing Yvonne always reminds me of the joy in being alive. And her biography is wonderful.

  • 0

Yes, but slowly sometimes. In the interests of science, anyway, we need to be sure we're not just remembering the cases where we've thought it would be wonderful to see Vittoria again (say), and then did see her a day or two later, while forgetting those drab days when we wanted to see her but didn't.

How can Vittoria look so poised and elegant and so warm at the same time? This really calls for more investigation.

  • Fred
  • 10 months ago
  • 0

While I'd never claim that all photography should be black and white, good B&W reaches places that color ordinarily doesn't. This set seems to live equally well in both worlds.

  • 0

There's something about Vittoria that makes you glad you're in the same world as her. That happy, relaxed, "Here I am" quality, the sense of warmth and generosity. She's very lovely and graceful, but even if she weren't, you'd feel good seeing her.

  • 0

I keep a throwaway cell phone in the glove compartment of my car, which I got years ago because a friend of mine was pregnant and depending upon me to get her to the hospital. I never turn it on, and I don't even know the phone number, so yes, I'm a Luddite too. 2 out of 20 people in a population of 321,773,631. What are the odds?

  • 0

It's always a great pleasure to see Steffi again. Her confidence and poise, her lithe dancer's body, her lovely long hair, and, best of all, that brilliant smile on her beautiful face, as if she's showing you something wonderful -- as she is! -- and doing it out of love and delight.

  • 0

I've had two girlfriends who had hair that long, and they were pretty relieved when they got it cut. It's high maintenance, and prone to accidents. Can't say that I didn't like it, though.

Mishel's a real stunner, isn't she? Hope we see much more of her.

  • 0

Qualey is always delightful, and I hope we'll see much more of her. The last two pictures in the set in particular have a happy, playful quality that's worth infinitely more than any amount of simulated passion. It's one of the things I like best about RA.

  • 0

And in fact, I did choose this, and that was under the assumption that the rest of the photographs couldn't be as good as the cover. Very nice to be mistaken about that ... My favorite set so far this year, and that's with some very strong competition.

  • 0

A great pleasure to see Margaux again. She is classically beautiful, a dancer, I would think, and fascinating. She seems meant to be be photographed outdoors, and this series is vivid and alive and suits her wonderfully. Settings are one of the real strengths of RA, and whoever locates them isn't being paid enough.

  • 0

Very, very nice. A pleasant sense of intimacy and langour, like a samba.

Looking at the camera in a two woman set can be distancing, since too often it seems meant to signify that the women are mostly relating to the viewer, not each other. Here it comes off as friendly, since you get the sense that Astrud and Ariana are into each other, and liked you well enough to let you watch. And I wouldn't have wanted to miss Astrud's smirk!

  • 0

Unfortunately, I get an error when I try downloading. Looking forward to it, though.

  • 0

Absolutely agreed. Faye is wonderful here, and Rylsky has gotten some spectacular photographs.

  • 0

Neil, I hate to take the focus from Faye, but who is the favorite you're talking about? If you want to be specific, of course.

  • 0

You were fine the first time.

  • 0

An athlete's body is a wonderful thing, and if you add to that Beata's lovely face, she is already very beautiful. But if you also add that smile, that vitality, that playfulness, that joy ... Well, at that point I'm a bit in love, and you'll get no more sense out of me.

A very nice set, fresh and lively, one that suits Beata very well without drawing attention to itself. I hope we'll see much more of her.

  • 0

It's a strange world in which this kind of question needs to be asked at all, though I understand why it does. Color and B&W each have their strengths, and why choose? It's like asking whether hammers are better than screwdrivers. You use a hammer sometimes, and a screwdriver sometimes, and the actual mixture depends on what's in front of you.

I was very happy to see a mostly B&W set, and hope there will be many more. As for this particular set, I admit I wasn't sure at first. After the very vivid use of color in the first few pictures, the first B&W photograph initially seemed a little flat and gray. To keep up with the color, it would have needed to have more contrast, the deep blacks and complex shadows that make objects so luminous in B&W, and because it didn't, initially something felt lost.

But get past the transition, and take the B&W on its own terms, and it was gorgeous, and did things that color couldn't have. Because of the lack of contrast, Ralina stood out against the background in a subtle three-dimensional way. Her head and face have never looked better, and Ralina herself has never seemed so appealing.

I think that Evita would be a natural choice for a B&W series, especially one with lots of chiaroscuro, like the classic photographs of Anita Ekberg. But then Astrud would be natural in her own way, and Vittoria, and Alysha, and ...

  • 0

That was just about perfect, and just the right length.

I first thought the title was about Milene herself having presence. Which doesn't quite work, but it shows what kind of impression she makes. That smile would have launched a thousand ships.

Add to that the interplay with the other woman -- Valentina? -- even when she's entirely offscreen, and this set is amazingly effective, much more erotic than any amount of unfelt groping. It's always about emotion and context, isn't it? As they say, sex is in the mind.

  • 0

As an adult, I know it's foolish to fall in love with a woman just because she's adorable. Uh, isn't it? Because as soon as I saw the expression on Vittoria's face about twenty seconds in, after she opened the gates, I was lost.

For me, the video captured the feeling you have when you love someone and treasure her quirks and occasional awkwardness as much as her perfections. It sets up a grand entrance, but the gates seem to get stuck, and the actual entrance is the way Vittoria takes it in stride.

Vittoria is a classic beauty, and moves like a dancer, and the room itself is beautiful, but she inhabits it in a very human way. She's a little unsteady when she squats down to feel the water, and there's no attempt to coordinate her jumping up and down in the water with the very steady beat of the music. She's simply having fun, and you feel happy because she's let you see it, instead of being remote and stylish. It's grace of a different sort.

I don't know if this was actually intended. Maybe it was just meant to be a nice video about Vittoria in a whirlpool, and this is just my personal filter. In general, anyway, I always enjoy these videos. They have ideas, and reasons why someone would want to make them, rather than just being another form of rote glamor photography.

  • 0

If I had just one request to make, it's that requests of that kind not be taken very seriously. As a writer put it, if you ask readers what they want, they'll always ask for ice cream. And I doubt that the relatively small number of people who do write in about these things are representative, anyway.

For myself, I immediately brightened up when you used the word "classic." But it wouldn't occur to me to try to influence your choices, as opposed to, say, suggesting that something might make a good subject. Much more interesting to see what someone will come up with when he's free to surprise himself as well as you.

  • 0

Thanks, fer_realz, though I only call myself Doug on Tuesdays. :-)

From what I've heard, you'd get a different reaction in rural France. The French people I've met came from Paris, and they tended to be people at the top of the pecking order, who seemed to do an awful lot of pecking, and people at the bottom, who tended to get pecked really a lot, and yeah, they'd respond the way you describe.

If it makes you feel any better, one of the first books I read in Swedish was by a Swedish radio correspondent living in Paris, and he said that Parisians really did get tough when you tried to speak French. But if you shifted to English, they'd get very angry, since, as a Swede, you'd studied English intensively, so your English would be much better than theirs, and they'd hate being shown up. So you were better off sticking to French.

Spanish speakers are in fact very nice about putting up with terrible Spanish. On the other hand, an American who's fluent in Spanish is likely to sound strange to them, as having a kind of Wonder Bread way of speaking, to judge by a remark by friend of mine in Madrid. And Spanish speakers do get endless amusement from the times a foreigner inadvertently says something different from what they meant (and often something obscene). But it's pretty good-natured.

In contrast, I once saw a program which had someone named Anthony Bourdain getting ready for a trip to Paris by taking a French lesson, and his teacher, who was French, was screaming at him over his pronunciation. In fact Bourdain was introducing all kinds of unintended meanings by saying words slightly wrong, so it actually did matter, but the teacher never bothered to explain that, just yelled at him to repeat after him once more. On practical terms it really wasn't a big deal, since it wasn't hard to make out what Bourdain was trying to say, and otherwise it was just mildly comical, but the teacher seemed ready to come over the table at him.

  • 0

It's always a pleasure to see Cecile, and among her sets, I think this is by far the best.

  • 0

I've always liked Rina, but never felt that her series really did her justice. They show her as lovely but also remote, as if she's being too much a model, or perhaps just melancholy. Fair enough -- she's a professional, and obviously serious about doing her job; but I always wanted to see her just being herself, and since RylskyArt is exactly the right environment for that, and since movies leave a lot of room for spontaneity, I was very pleased to see this come up. And now that I've seen the movie, I think I'm a little bit in love.

Those moments about a minute in where Rina is working into the stretch, and that ending, where Rina is grinning in sheer delight -- they're transformative, and completely enchanting. And the movie as a whole expresses that happiness perfectly.

  • 0

I'd never heard the term "It factor" myself, but it sounds like corporate-speak for what used to be called simply "It." I'd thought it went back only to Clara Bow, who was the "It girl" (she'd starred in a 1927 movie called "It"), but when I just looked it up, it turns out to go back as far as Rudyard Kipling in 1904: "It isn't beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It's just 'It'."

Anyway, the movie "It" was inspired by a magazine article by Elinor Glyn, who said that "'It' is that quality possessed by some which draws all others with its magnetic force. With 'It' you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man ... Self-confidence and indifference whether you are pleasing or not and something in you that gives the impression that you are not at all cold." She went on to say that conceit destroys It.

"It girl" has come to mean something more along the lines of Paris Hilton or Kseniya Sobchak. However, in the original sense of the term as I understand it, I think instantly of Kei, though it's a good description in general of the women we are fortunate to see here. Not just charisma, and not a relatively superficial attribute such as cleverness or physical beauty, but something more resonant.

  • 0

Tastes differ, of course, and the black and white photographs were my favorites in a very good set.

  • 0

Cropping a picture is selecting part of the original image and discarding the rest. For example, given an image of someone's head and shoulders, you might decide to keep only the part of the picture that showed the head. (The verb "crop," in general, means to trim.)

  • 0

What's erotic depends upon meaning -- there isn't a fixed catalog of image types that always work or never work. In Victorian times, a woman deliberately showing you a bit of ankle would probably get your heart racing. It isn't that ankles are particularly exciting in themselves; it's what's being said.

I think I'm fairly representative in saying that spread lips in themselves are nice, but, as an isolated image, not a huge thing one way or another. But Sandra doing it just because she felt like it? That makes it wonderful.

I would guess that Neil was feeling uneasy because he was thinking of this as a situation in which a photographer was telling a model what to do. If that had been the case, sure, it could have been objectifying or exploitative. But that's not what's going on here.

One of the things that makes your work such a pleasure is that your models look relaxed and happy, in part, I imagine, because you respect their nature; you don't press them to do things they don't want, and you do give them room to express themselves. Thank God for both things.

Though who could stand in the way of Niagara Falls, anyway? More dignified to pretend you have a choice in the matter. :-)

  • 0

:)

  • 0

Well said Fred!

  • 1

Well said, Fred.

I also like # 16 mostly for Sybil's eyes. Aren't they spectacular? I always check a model's eyes and sometimes the shooter is visible doing their job. Our host and friend is too clever to be caught on camera, but other shooters sometimes make cameo appearances.

  • Fred
  • 12 months ago
  • 1

An afterthought. It's Mila's life, and we should appreciate the opportunity to visit. It's not up to us to make judgments, any more than you would complain to someone about their taste in furniture after they've invited you into their home. Rather, it's a time when you should open yourself up to the world and let it surprise and delight you.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and there was a photograph in one of Mila's MA sets which said that a lot better. It was a close up of her tattoo. Since the tattoo is controversial, you might imagine that as a way of saying that you should take Mila for who she is and what she chooses for herself. But talk is cheap. The picture made the tattoo look interesting.

  • 1

Well said, Fred.

Pulchritudo in oculis aspicientis; or even ~ Saporis est necessario convenit alicui alii

  • 0

Fred, not as an attempt to "force" you to think as I do, but merely as a look into the way my particular mind works on this subject I'd like to tell you a reason or two why lingerie is so interesting to me in erotica...

First and foremost, "All Naked All The Time" sets strike me as boring. You've already gone from zero to sixty in the first photo, so to speak, so there had better be something REALLY good to keep interest in the rest of the set. Whereas, if you start out with some clothing or some lingerie, or (better yet) both, there is a perhaps modest start that leads gently to a crescendo ~ the model's complete nudity ~ after a gradual buildup. For most people, that's how sex works... you have an attraction, a flirtation, a date or two, kissing, making out, then foreplay, THEN sex. It's multiple layers, just like romance leading to sex in real life.

Then also, one reason I am an erotica consumer is that I pretty much suck at romance in real life. While I'm not a complete dud, I generally strike out and while I get to see plenty of sexy, pretty women in real life day to day ~ I DON'T get to see what's under their clothes. And what interests me that's under a woman's clothes is not only her naked body ~ I LOVE naked women's bodies ~ but I ALSO love to see what they wear underneath that they only show to special people. Hence my love for fancy lingerie.

Now, my love for "everyday wear" undies is because a woman in her "everyday wear" undies is a sight she doesn't let almost ANYONE see, at least, not just in passing like in the gym shower room. She MIGHT let her girlfriends see her in her everyday wear undies, but chances are, she thinks they're kinda ugly, definitely not special or spectacular or anything she wants anyone else to see her in.

However, for me, that sight is the very spirit of intimacy. Imagine if you will running into a very beautiful woman in the grocery store or on the street or just in some everyday setting. Imagine that it's not just you being attracted to her, but she's attracted to you equally... so much that the two of you literally can't control it and end up going home together on the spur of the moment and the spur of passion. She starts stripping down and you tell her... "slow down just a little bit, baby, I want to enjoy the sight of you getting naked!" She says something like, "but these are my ugly undies, the ones I wear on laundry day or when NOBODY will see me! You don't want to see me in these!" And you get to say, "Au contraire, my dear, you are lovely in WHATEVER you're wearing!" and sure enough, she really is!

I hope this gives you an idea of why I like to see lingerie in erotica so much... not just the fancy expensive frilly/lacy femme stuff that girls like to wear to impress their boos, but the nonglamorous everyday wear stuff that they never intend to show off to anyone else.

  • 0

That shot is AMAZING, isn't it? (: I hope there's a set attached to it!

  • 1

Very interesting story, thank you for sharing.

Happy New Year!!!


  • 1

Damn, I always forget Jodie. I hope she can forgive me. :)

  • 1

well said :)))

  • 1

bomb? make love, nomore wars, please :)

  • 0

My ex had hair nearly that long and very beautiful as well. ( :

Her solution to the high maintenance + accident possibility was to wear it in a bun on the top of her head most of the time, and just wear it down and freshly brushed out when she wanted to get my attention. And boy oh boy did it get my attention! ( ;

  • 1

Not only list of titles. I love it!
I am speechless after reading this. This is story about you. And what a story about your point of view! I think I feel like I know you 100 times better now.
Thank you very much!

  • 2

Maybe because it is popular in another niche. Mostly MA photographers playing with glamorous or near nude-art styles. Old times MA was even more art-ish, not amateur-ish. I know 2 sites inside MA Network where this style used - EB and ALS.
I will add some of this style here on RA but 1-3 times a year, we are not sure that our members joined us because of this style
:)

  • 0

thank you!

  • 1

Thank you!

B&W also always takes away everything but composition, forms and light vs. shades play...

  • 2

glad to hear from you! i feel we see things almost the same way.

  • 1

Fred, please choose 2nd set to have your 1 point.

All these sets are in our schedule for May, June and July, it means that set that will get less points will appear on RA in July.

  • 1

thanks for this point, Fred!

  • 0

Totally, Fred... I have long thought that, if God does indeed exist, sex is the perfect evidence that It has a sense of humor, and it's not a "nice" sense of humor. ( ;

  • 0

Nice to hear from you Fred! it's be awhile.

  • 0

I definitely got the impression that they are very comfortable with each other, at the very least! It's possible that it was even a, "Look at what I get to play with!" vibe on Astrud's part....

  • 0

Sorry to say they are still a staple for most women. My wife wears then when ever she is dressing up for some event but I have to laugh because they seldom last through a night without runs. :)

  • 1

Hear hear! Well said, Fred!

  • 2

I am happy to see that this December is your fav. on RA!

December to remember?
;)

  • 2

My eternal beloved is the beautiful lady known to us as Chandra. I was compelled to join RA and then MA, after I found some of her photos while surfing the internet. But this is about the lovely Faye.

  • 0

While unlike you I do not bemoan the lack of B&W in this set, I very much relate to everything else you said, Fred. Very very well said.

  • 0

Fred, I'm completely with you regarding the Petals-remark - I made suggestions to add head and face shots to those as well. But I never would have thought that Rylsky would combine a Petals-like set with a full size normal set. Maybe this set serves as a test how we (the members) respond to it.

Rylsky, I guess my comment will not surprise you, this is exactly what I had in mind when I asked for "more personal Petal sets". Kudos and big thanks for putting this one online.

Vittoria, ever since your first Petals set was posted here it looks like you get even more beautiful with each set. And by that I am not referring to just the fact that you are revealing more than before. I think it ignited something in you that makes you shine and sparkle, making you a more confident woman. Thank you very much for sharing this confidence with us.

  • 0

There is a video/photoset set of Liv, posing on a dock in a lake, in a pink camisole, I believe. I have not seen it recently, but oh my goodness is it exquisite. The funny thing is that the video is here on RA and the photoset on MA, or vice versa. ( : But the video is heaven on earth.... ( :

  • 0

Re: the origins of the Russians: the Vikings were the original settlers of what became Russia... interestingly enough.

Re: "inviting" foreigners in to rule, because their squabbling was too great? Fat chance. Who writes the "official" histories? The "winners." Clearly, the Rus defeated the natives, then moved in and displaced their nobility and became the new nobility, and wrote the history of the events so as to put themselves in the best light: the civilized, beneficient, altrustic outsiders who came in and bestowed peace and civilization on the beknighted, barbaric, backwards original inhabitants.

The "nugget" of truth that forms the kernel of the legend? The original inhabitants probably did constantly squabble, the same way the original inhabitants of what is now Great Britain did and were unable to unify in defense against the invaders.

Oh, BTW, being a Poli Sci and History double major ~ I can assure you that this happens time and time and time again in human history, esp. in areas where there are no natural defenses, such as the Russian Steppes and in China for example.

  • 2

Fred, you are clearly over analyzing our daily language lesson. It could be as simple as Rylsky has a better command of Finnish than Swedish. The Swedish word for stone is sten. Plural is stenar. :=)

  • 3

Hi Fred!

It's an interesting comment on animal perception and perception of animals. Thank you for sharing your stories! I enjoyed reading it!

And I agree with you about woods! One day I was fortuned to visit a forest with very old trees. The trees were up to 2000 years old. I felt an amazing calmness and serenity, even some wisdom in the air. It was unforgettable experience! It's an amasing feeling when you can see and touch the trees with centuries of history.

Thanks for reminding this feeling for me! And let's go into the woods;)

  • 0

I say, well said Fred! Easily my favorite comment of the day so far. ( :

  • 0

Oh yeah, definitely. I LOVE Liv. She is so... ALIVE. ( :

I think the wonderful thing about these pics is that Rylsky captured such genuine expressions just as they were happening spontaneously. ( :

  • 0

Very nicely written comment, Fred.


  • 1

Couldn't agree more Fred!!

  • 0

Very well written comment, Fred, thank you very much for the thought-provoking musings.

  • 2

OK OK
you and Neil got me.
:)

It will be 1st week of October 2014

  • 0

1 example:
cover of "Limasa" Featuring Evita Lima

http://static.rylskyart.com/media/56DCB72AE6638DF4617FC7496A987B13/cover_56DCB72AE6638DF4617FC7496A987B13.jpg

http://members.rylskyart.com/members/model/evita-lima/gallery/20140507/LIMASA/

  • 0

I see I must clarify something

I meant kind of "classic standing poses" that was known for 100s years. Mostly it is classic because photography and painting was a long process (long exposure time in photography) and it takes from model to be very static in her pose. Now in our days we can easily use any dynamic poses as well. But static became classic, no matter what we think about it. It is just a cold fact.

Thank you for your comment.

  • 0

Well written, Fred.

  • 0

Fred, my humble apologies for mixing up with whom I was conducting a conversation... ( ; I think it's my advanced age catching up with me. LOL

Anthony Bourdain, eh? I can't say I've ever seen his show, but I always assumed ~ with that name ~ that he is French. LOL He must be an American (or Canadian) of French descent.

Actually, I knew and remembered so little of French that I didn't even try to use it at all either of the times I was there. The people themselves were quite helpful and friendly, as long as I wasn't butchering their language! ( :

The second time I happened to be visiting a friend whose mother is French and she herself is a polyglot. She speaks French flawlessly and translated (quite graciously) the entire time for me, even though that HAD to have worn on her.

I do remember sitting back and just listening as she and her friends were chatting as we were sitting down to dinner one night and marveling at how gorgeous spoken French is when spoken by native speakers. I really can't begrudge them their possessiveness of their language. ( :

I can imagine that native Spanish speakers would have fun with non-native speakers. Actually that makes a lot of sense. My ex-roommate had been in the restaurant industry for years and one time he told me stories of working in a kitchen of Spanish speakers. Seems they really put him through the wringer... but by that point he'd been through Spanish 3, so I'm sure he gave as good as he got. ( :

  • 2

Thank you for compliments. I promise many new locations coming on RylskyArt in 2014

  • 1

You have very interesting insights, Doug!
One big contrast I encountered in my college language studies was the attitude of the native speakers of French vs. Spanish.
Approximately two years after my single semester of French, I ran into some of my friends at the cafeteria. One of my friends introduced us to a gentleman who was a visiting student from France. I thought to myself, "Oh great, I get a chance to try out my rusty French on a native speaker!"
I made a much more rusty attempt than I had been anticipating ~ since it HAD been two years, and in the interim I'd been studying Spanish ~ at saying something like, "Hi, how are you. I don't speak much French since it has been about two years since I studied it."
As the words stumbled over my lips, I looked at him and saw a very interesting thing happen to his face ~ it became absolutely stony. He looked at me through half-lidded eyes and said absolutely NOTHING as a very awkward silence fell... I felt about 2 inches tall under his (unstated) scorn and did not try to say anything else.
In contrast, every single time I have ever tried to practice my academese Spanish on a native Spanish speaker, I have always found them ~ without exception ~ to be supportive and generous, even when they were pressed for time. I've never encountered that scorn one encounters from les francophones...
On the other hand, I have encountered several French speakers who have been very generous, though they were from the Colonial countries, interestingly enough. ( :

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Fred, twice in my life, I had the privilege of spending approximately a week in France... I had taken a semester of French about a decade before, so, I could understand a smattering of what the people around me were saying.
The second time, I was in the company of a good friend of mine who is polylingual (in fact, we had taken Spanish 4 together years previous) so she was gracious enough to translate between myself and her French friends.
Each time, returning to the English-speaking world, after having heard French all around me for a week, for several days, every time I heard the murmur of conversation around me, my brain tried to tell me that it was in French, dammit! ( : Even when intellectually I knew it was English everyone was speaking...

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Hello Fred!

Thanks for such interesting historical and linguistic moments, I liked reading about it!

As for English, I begun studying it at school when I was 12 years old. I didn't really liked the lessons. That's why I'm very grateful to my parents for my tutor who instilled me love for the language. The opportunity to speak on two very popular languages ​​in the world makes my life much more easier. And I think about learning Spanish now.

BTW, do you know other languages?

And as far as I know it's your first comment in my blog. So thank you for joining it =)

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Thank you for detailed comment, Fred.

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Well said Fred!

When I hear a person whose first language is not English apologize for their speaking or writing of it, I realize how lucky I was that my first language was English. English must be an extremely difficult language to learn; heck most of us who have used it all our lives still stumble over the intricacies involved.

I am reminded of the quotation "England and America are two countries separated by a common language." Then you have English as adapted in Canada, Australia, New Zealand et al; and learning English appears to be a difficult undertaking.

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My favorite model, from what I can tell, just has "it." She embodies it. Some people have it, and some people don't. In fact, at this point just 1 person has "it" for me :-)
It has something to do with love -- love at first sight that lasts for who knows how long.
A radiance that touches me...a mysterious sympathy...

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Yes, if you have read comments here< I said we plan to make some special "B&W edition" sets or collections of B&W from sets of some models in 2014. Don't forget to comment in blog section, your thoughts and requests there will never be forgotten!

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Many thanks for your compliments and for clarifying your opinion with details.

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I am not a big fan of double model sets, I checked out Jodie's set Dovian on MetArt today. I like large breasted red haired beauties and I like sets done outdoors in fields of flowers. Dovian has all that to the second power. Our beautiful Jodie is teamed up with the incredible Indiana A, oneof the world's truely great red haired models. Dovian was created by none other than our very own Amazing Mr Rylsky. It is a wonderful set of images, pure gold, diamond incrusted classic Rylsky at his finest.

I need my Jodie fix. And Indiana should be in the Rylsky pantheon too.

Ain't no use in looking back, Jodie got your Cadillac.

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Ironicly, at the same minute Sandra's photo set was being released on Rylsky Art, Candy Rose's set was released on Metart. A member on MetArt made a comment about Candy'clitoris which simply was not visible in the entire set. His comment indicated that he was refering to her labia. He when on to say that the two terms were interchangable. Visit Candy's recent set on Metart to read my response.

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My I suggest the photo set CONCERTO featuring Nikia as an example of elegant, sophisticated exprssion of erotic art.

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Hello Fred,

I know Rylsky's philosophy well enough that I know he would never dirrect a model to spread herself so thoroughly. I found Sandra's presentation of herself unsettling because it was unnecessary for me. I assumed she had a completely functional genitalia assembly. And you can not get to be my age without seeing several of them. At the gynecological level, if you have seen one, you have seen them all. That is not the case when it comes to the shall we saybig picture features of a beautiful woman's body. Features like her figure, her face, her legs and her hair varry significantly from woman to woman. That is where I choose to dirrect my attention, confident in the knowledge that she has all the internal organs of a healthy female. I understand Sandra's right and willingness to express her senuality and I am sure tht my fellow members appreciated her display. Regards, Neil

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I hope we all know that if our work is pleasant and interesting - we have pleasure that gave us power to do it. When it is a work and no pleasure - we do burn. I will stop it only if i will not enjoy it. And sure I will stop it without your support. I don't mean i will stop if somebody hate me, no way:) , I mean that now i see supporters are silently enjoy, when haters are very happy to scream. Paradise is silent place,when you are happy - you just happy and no words needed...remember that:)

Thank you.

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Agreed, that last one is a knockout.