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Indiegogo for FaceRig, animated virtual mask software.

See also: older posts on Otherkin News tagged with augmented reality, including other similar virtual masks.
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Content warnings: None. For the linked blog, Kinshopping: Photos of food. Photos of animal products (including meat and taxidermy). [Edit 2013-08-15: Also, Kinshopping has sexual content on Sundays.]

September 8: A blog on Tumblr.com opened, named Kinshopping. The blog recommends fashion and food for various types of otherkin and therianthropes, particularly including uncommon types, such as owls. It's well-organized with tags. They answer requests. The blog is run by several otherkin under pseudonyms. The maintainers have changed a few times since the blog opened. They have included Mod Cat (a snowshoe cat), Mod Glitch (a computer glitch and kaiju otherkin), Mod Space, Mod Dog (Canaan dog), and Mod Goat.

Source

Untitled. KinShopping. 2013-09-08. http://kinshopping.tumblr.com/post/60707324932/hello-welcome-to-kinshopping-this-is-a-blog

"About." KinShopping. n.d. http://kinshopping.tumblr.com/about
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
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Content warnings: For this post, as well as for the podcast itself: much about spirituality. Mild ableism. Questions about how being otherkin compares with being transgender. Some additional content warnings for the podcast only: Brief mild adult humor. Brief mentions of drugs. Brief mentions of alcohol.

Summary: A furry podcast interviewed a therian wolf who claims to practice an ancient animal-based faith, and an otherkin dragon who expresses himself through fur-suiting.



August 25: Fur What It’s Worth, a podcast series that is “an introduction and immersion into the furry fandom,” interviewed a therianthrope and an otherkin. In the "Therians & Otherkin" episode, the hosts say they are completely unfamiliar with therianthropy, but somewhat familiar with otherkin. The hosts’ attitudes are respectful, easygoing, interested, and friendly. There’s no transcript, so I’ll summarize the relevant parts of the podcast, using direct quotes whenever possible.

The interview with an therianthrope starts at 8:00 and concludes at 31:41. The therianthrope is Wolf (which is his legal name), 51, is very active in the furry fandom. He attends furry conventions, and is a published author of furry fiction.

Wolf calls himself a therian deist, which he says is an ancient pre-Babylonian (and therefore prehistoric) spiritual faith. He says that in that “faith,” humans are considered the highest animals, and try to learn from animals how to be better humans, by mimicking the virtues of animals. He claims that Catholics called practitioners of this spiritual tradition “lycans.” Wolf says that the biggest misconception about therians is that they are shape-shifters, which he says is a belief of Catholic origin. He says some therians have spiritual connections to animal totems. He says he and a group of other therians are in the process of gathering supplies to build a spiritual retreat for therians “of like faith.” He denies that it’s a temple. He says the faith is based around “breaking the three animal rules: 1) Me first. 2) Pack (family) second. 3) Everyone else.” In therian deism, one tries to “become a better human,” and “better than the animals,” by reversing the order of these rules. He looks at this in context with worship of animal gods and guides around the world.

Wolf mentions that some therians think of themselves as animals in spirit, but otherwise he doesn’t refer to therianthropy as an identity at all, but as a “faith.” The therian faith he describes is not something that I have seen in the therian community. He doesn’t seem to be talking about the same thing as they are at all. I haven’t heard the phrase “therian deist” before, and Googling it (with quotes) only brings up eight results, where it’s used by this same Wolf. Despite Wolf’s claims, it appears that this “ancient faith” is something he invented. The slang “lycans” is a sign that influence from pop fiction is involved. Inventing one’s own spirituality is fine, even with pop culture influences, but when people claim that new spiritualities are ancient, I consider it my duty as a historian to question those claims.

The interview with an otherkin starts at 36:44 and concludes at 1:02:40. This interview is with YuuRyuu, a dragon otherkin. This is YuuRyuu’s second interview on Fur What It’s Worth. YuuRyuu speaks of his dragon self as a “character,” and says he developed his own species of dragon. He’s been very active in the furry fandom for four years.

YuuRyuu gives the usual definitions for otherkin and its difference from therianthropes. When asked to define what otherkin means to him, YuuRyuu said there’s a lot of variety in how people define it. For himself, he explained that when he was a small child, he consciously knew that his reflection in the mirror was him, but subconsciously felt it was wrong. He’d prefer to see a dragon. Wearing a fur-suit (animal costume) of his dragon character makes that possible, which gives him a sense of mental release from the tension of feeling that his reflection is wrong. He’s not aware of any other specific otherkin who use fur-suits that way. For him, being otherkin is “just a quirk in my brain,” not something he can explain. He grew up having “a disconnect between what I looked like and what my brain wanted to see.” He says he’s experienced phantom limbs only after wearing the fur-suit for a while.

The host asks, “Are you a human who has a spirit of a dragon, or are you a dragon?” YuuRyuu replies, “I am a dragon. It is totally mental. I don’t believe in spirits or anything like that.” As such, he hasn’t personally experienced some of the paranormal phenomena that the hosts had heard of as linked with otherkin. He says he’d initially been hesitant to call himself otherkin, saying he was “borderline otherkin. … I don’t want people to think I’m crazy, but I want to be honest with myself.” After deciding to simply call himself otherkin, he hasn’t had any troubling reactions from people about it. He and the hosts agree that one of the good things about the furry community is that it’s so accepting. People in the furry fandom don’t get upset over hearing of one another’s unusual personal quirks.

The hosts ask YuuRyuu how being otherkin compares to being transgender. YuuRyuu says he’s been timid to consider the similarities, not wanting to offend anyone, but he does think the mirror experience is similar. He says he feels more confident about the analogy after reading some points made by a transgender furry interviewee. I recognize his description of Kotaku’s interview with illustrator Egypt Urnash, which I summarized in an earlier Otherkin News article.

Both interviews were conducted gracefully, and their contents were insightful and interesting. Wolf described a unique animal-based faith, and YuuRyuu gave an example of why an otherkin enjoys activities associated with the furry fandom.



Sources


Roo and Tugs, “S3 Episode 6 – Therian & Otherkin.” Fur What It’s Worth (blog) 2013-08-25. http://www.furwhatitsworth.com/?p=2029

Roo and Tugs, “Therians & Otherkin.” Fur What It’s Worth (podcast audio) 2013-08-25 (series 3, episode 6). Accessed 2013-08-31.
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud


Trigger warnings: Spooky mirror imagery, kind of trippy, weird faces. Linked article talks about neurology.

About a year ago: This is an interactive art installation by fine art animator Karolina Sobecka, titled All the universe is full of the lives of perfect creatures. It's a mirror that juxtaposes a computer animated animal face upon the viewer's reflection. In the video above, the ghostly face is offset due to the camera angle. From the perspective of the person looking in the mirror, the animal face covers their own, like a mask. The artist's statement explains,

"A different animal appears every time a person walks in front of the mirror. The animal not only mimics the viewer's facial features, but also occasionally makes its own, uniquely animal expressions. The viewer feels compelled to in turn enact such lip licking and snarling, fully inhabiting the role; following while being followed. This project explores a mirror as an amalgamation of the self and the other, inviting inquiry into how we determine the boundary between the two."


The art piece uses the mirror as a symbol of self-reflection and imitation, to draw attention to the mental processes involved in these, particularly 'mirror neurons.' For more information, see the web-page for this piece.


As far as I know, this artwork has no explicit connection to therianthropy. Nonetheless, I include it here because of the themes of transformation through augmented reality. That topic has been dealt with before a few times in this blog.


Source


Karolina Sobecka, "All the Universe is Full of the Lives of Perfect Creatures." n.d. (The video was posted about a year ago, with no specific date shown.) Karolina Sobecka. http://www.gravitytrap.com/artwork/perfect-creatures
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings: The link mentions some socially embarrassing situations, and some injuries, but nothing too graphic.

July: On the Werelist, an online discussion forum for therianthropes, there's a discussion thread collecting advice about walking and running on all fours. For some (not all) people who identify as animals, this is an enjoyable activity. Trading ideas on it is valuable, because it's difficult to develop this skill to the point of grace, comfort, and safety. The very informative first post is from 2009, so this isn't entirely news, but the thread is still getting useful additions. Just this month, the thread gained an excellent research essay about how to avoid injury and use relevant exercises.
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud


Trigger warnings: Weird artistic renditions of faces, "uncanny valley."

Yahoo Japan Corp. released "Face Stealer," a free app for iOs that transposes virtual masks onto your face in real time. It shows your expressions and movements, but conceals your features with those of some other person, statue, drawing, cartoon character, or animal. You can add your own photos to make into masks. Since it's just a little iPhone app, the effect is kind of choppy and grotesque. It's still a fun glimpse at a method of transformation through technology. If you want to try it on your iPhone, get it in the App Store.

Sources )
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings: Mentions of sexuality and occult spirituality. The linked webpages include some photos of people who are clothed but sexual, and so may be considered not safe for work.

The free alternative newspaper of the Capital Region of New York State, Metroland, recently ran an interview1 with fine artist2 Jason Martin, of Power Animal Systems. Martin performs music while costumed as an human-like wolf in a tight silver space suit, a “sexy spacewolf warrior,”3 one of a trio of such animal-masked performers.

Martin emphasizes that his artwork is a spiritual performance, involving supernatural entities that have appeared to him since his early childhood. In the interview, Martin said of his band, “It spoke to a lot of young people […] People inclined toward alternative lifestyle or ‘queerness’ got it right away. Everytime I put on one of these costumes, it’s not zentai, it’s not cosplay, it’s not furry, it’s not role playing […] It’s channeling entities. They’re real as individuals but also representations of all this encoded information, only a small percentage of which I understand.”4 The performances have more spiritual depth than simply wearing animal costumes for entertainment.

In his artist’s statement, Martin explains that Power Animal Systems “engages species-queer paganistic animism […] rituals, conjuring mysterious energies, removing anthropomorphism from its harmless, cartoon usage and connecting it to less safe, more real, quasi-mythical archetypes with Jungian undertones and erotic juxtapositions.”5 I’ve never encountered the phrase “species-queer” before… Google shows about 2100 results for it, so it’s had some use.

The Power Animal Systems had been booked to perform with Lady Gaga this spring, but that tour was cancelled.6


Sources


1. Josh Potter, “Into the third dimension.” 2013-02-28. Metroland. http://metroland.net/2013/02/28/into-the-third-dimension
2. Jason Martin, “Bio.” http://jasonmartinwebsite.com/bio.html
3. Potter.
4. Ibid.
5. Martin.
6. Potter.
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Summary: News from 2012 regarding topics of interest to otherkin and therianthropes (therians), including: a new study on clinical lycanthropy, an anthology of non-supernatural otherkin and therian romantic fiction, a survey of therians and furries, a Tarot deck for people who were extraterrestrials in past lives, a therian-inspired art exhibit, advances in the technology of wearable animal ears, other transhuman innovations, and the death of Stalking Cat.

Trigger warnings: mental illness, death.

2012-01. A new academic article about clinical lycanthropy was published in The Journal of Psychiatric Practice, focusing on the case study of Ms. A., 47, who believed herself to be a snake.1 The syndrome of lycanthropy recognized in psychiatry has some traits in common with spiritual therianthropy as discussed in the therianthrope community, in that the subject believes himself or herself to be or become an animal. The syndrome itself isn’t a mental illness, and doesn’t consistently correlate with any specific mental illnesses. Clinical lycanthropy is distinguished by delusions of physical transformation, and presence of other mental illnesses; all but one case of clinical lycanthropy have quickly responded to treatment. People in the therianthrope community, on the other hand, generally don’t believe they physically transform. The new article itself is behind a pay-wall. You can get the gist of the article through an irreverent informal commentary on it in the Neurotic Physiology blog.2

2012-09. Good Mourning Publishing is working on assembling an anthology of short romantic fiction titled Shifting Hearts, "in which at least one of the love interests is Otherkin/Therian. Any identification of otherkin or therian is accepted. No vampires, p-shifting, or paranormal themes; strictly real world depictions. […] The submission deadline is December 31, 2012."3 To my knowledge, this is the first book of its kind. Personally, I’ve heard rumors that a member of the therianthrope community is writing the preface for it; is there a public post by the person in question to confirm this rumor?

2012-09-05. A multidisciplinary team of scientists (sociologists, anthropologists, and social psychologists) called the Anthropomorphic Research Project (ARP) released results for its surveys of furries, bronies (fans of My Little Pony), and therianthropes.4

2012-09-05. An interview with Patricia Cori, co-author (with Alysa Bartha) of the Sirian Starseed Tarot. In the interview, Cori said she intended the oracle deck as a tool for “starseed awakening,” to assist the “the starseed [extraterrestrial] beings currently incarnated [in human bodies] on the planet, here to assist in the great transition that we all are beginning to recognize is well underway. […] In the generations of children since the 60’s, I believe, many very special souls are coming into the life experience highly conscious, with many gifts. They are starseeds from other planets and systems that are quite possibly more evolved than ours.”5 The starseed community has been active for several decades, but their community remains separate from the otherkin and therianthrope communities.

2012-09-11. Valerie Daval’s art exhibition of paintings inspired by therianthropes, featuring animal-themed reinterpretations of classic paintings. “Therians believe that while they have a human body, some important part of their mind, identity or spirit is that of an animal. […] Therians Dream is a series of portraits about metamorphosis between human and animal form.”6 Caution: the linked page includes artistic nudity.

2012-10. Following the release of Necomimi, the wearable cat-like biofeedback ears by Neurowear, an independent business emerged, called Emoki, offering diverse modifications built upon that hardware. Emoki offers the Necomimi headset, plus their own variety of interchangeable animal ears: bunny, bear, and fox, with more to come soon.7

2012-10. Transhuman week on Wired magazine, featuring the latest experiments and predictions about high-tech enhancement of the human body and mind. Trigger warnings: surgery, physical injuries particularly to eyes and extremities, vivid descriptions and photos thereof.

2012-11-05. Stalking Cat, 54, died. Famous for modifying his body to resemble a tiger, which he called his totem animal, Stalking Cat was active in the furry community,8 but I haven’t found evidence that he was active in the otherkin or therianthrope communities.


- O. Scribner

Sources )
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud

Trigger warnings: news coverage, phantom limbs, amputation, occult (magic, divination)

Summary: Since last March, I took a vacation from researching for Otherkin News. From time to time, I did bookmark some things that I wanted to write articles about. In short, lately we’ve had: ongoing as well as published academic research of otherkin, wearable cat ears that use brainwave sensors to express your mood, over a dozen new and republished books by the Silver Elves, and a scientific study of a person who had phantom limbs corresponding to body parts that she’d never had.

 

 

In science

 

Phantom limbs: She felt fingers that she’d never had

A study published last February in Neurocase described a woman (“R.N.,” age 57) who had been born with an incomplete right hand. After amputation of this hand at age 18 due to an accident, she developed a “phantom limb:” she felt like her hand was still there. What made this case unusual was that her phantom hand included phantom fingers that she’d never physically had. Her phantom hand was complete with all its fingers.

Initially, her phantom hand felt shortened and painful, but after mirror therapy (a common treatment for phantom limb pain), her phantom hand took on completely normal proportions.[1]

Although this study is not about otherkin or therianthropes, it is of interest to our community. Some otherkin and therianthropes experience phantom sensations of body parts that they’ve never physically had, including tails.

See also: an earlier article on Otherkin News, regarding a study published in the Annals of Neurology about a woman, 64, who developed a supernumerary phantom limb: a third arm.[2]

 

Community research: Survey of furries, therianthropes, and otherkin

The International Anthropomorphic Research Project conducted their Winter 2012 survey of furries, with questions that included otherkin and therianthrope issues, determining the overlap of the three communities. The survey took place online as well as in person at Anthrocon 2012, a furry convention. The survey opened in 2012-03,[3]  and is now closed to further submissions, saying, “A summary of the collected data will be available on this website shortly.”[4]

 

Innovations in technology: the Necomimi

Neurowear, a company specializing in high-tech fashion, recently released the Necomimi. As described in a previous Otherkin News article,[5] the Necomimi is a headband that includes brainwave sensors and a pair of animatronic cat ears. The sensors detect the wearer’s emotional state, and expresses it by moving the cat ears. 

Neurowear released the Necomimi in Japan on 2012-04-28.[6] Neurowear’s official store says that the Necomimi is $99.95 US, but is currently sold out due to overwhelming demand, but they’re taking backorders.[7] Neurowear says they’re planning on releasing new models of the Necomimi with different ear shapes.

Some people have independently created animatronic ears inspired by the Necomimi. On Instructables, a community site where inventors and makers share their ideas, Abetusk tells how to build animatronic cat ears, although these are controlled by a remote, not by EEG.[8]

So far as I know, these inventions were not produced by any participant of the otherkin or therianthrope communities. However, they maybe be of interest to these communities as an example of a way that new technologies can augment the human body.

 

 

New published works

 

New and republished books by the Silver Elves

The Silver Elves, a family of elf people who have been writing about elven issues since the 1970s, and who consider themselves to be part of the otherkin community, have published and republished several books of their writings. During the past few months alone, they’ve released these:

  • The Magical Elven Love Letters, Volume 1 (collected essays and poems from 1979 to 2001) and Volume 2 (from the 1990s) have been republished with new covers in 2012-03. They also published Volume 3, which includes writings from the 1990s and from their move to Hawaii in 2008.
  • The Book of Elven Runes, a handbook for creating and using an original oracle (not Futhark runes) designed by the Silver Elves, was republished in 2012-05.
  • The Elven Book of Changes: A magical interpretation of the I Ching. An elven interpretation of the ancient Chinese oracle. Released 2012-03.
  • The Elven Book of Powers: Using the Tarot for magical wish fulfillment. Released 2012-05-24.
  • The Elven Book of Dreams: A magical oracle of Faerie. A dream symbol interpretation handbook. Released 2012-04.
  • The Book of Elven Magic: The philosophy and enchantments of the Seelie Elves. An elven perspective on spirituality and ceremonial magic. Released 2012-05.
  • What an Elf would do: A magical guide to the manners and etiquette of the Faerie Folk. As summarized by the authors, this is a “view of how elves see and interact with the world of the Normal folk as well as with Otherkind of all sorts. It is designed to help the elfin everywhere to move through the often mysterious cultures of mankind with confidence and ease.” Released 2012-06-02.
  • Arvyndase (Silverspeech): A short course in the magical language of the Silver Elves. A grammar of a constructed language designed by the Silver Elves. Released 2012-05.
  • Caressed by an Elfin Breeze: The poems of Zardoa Silverstar. Approximately 90 poems by Zardoa of the Silver Elves, some from over 30 years ago.
  • Eldafaryn: True tales of magic from the lives of the Silver Elves. “a series of vignettes from the lives of the Silver Elves starting in the present and going back and forth through time describing their lives, their magic, their philosophy and their unique view of the world.”
  • Magic Talks: Being a correspondence between the Silver Elves and the founders of the Elf Queen’s Daughters. Released 2012-06-02. From the summary provided by the authors: “Magic Talks is a collection of letters between the two sisters who are the founders of the Elf Queen's daughters (in 1973), Arwen and Elanor, and the Silver Elves, Zardoa and Silver Flame. This is the first book in a series of Tulku internet correspondence beginning in November of 2011 and ending in February 2012. Arwen and Elanor are also the original publishers of the ‘Magic Elf Letters’ sent out from the Elf Queen’s daughters. They published three letters a week for about three years. In the early 1979 the Silver Elves carried on these letters calling them “The Magical Elven Love Letters” and continued writing and publishing them for the next 30 years…”

 These books by the Silver Elves are important contributions to the history and literature of the otherkin community.


Academic article: Laycock’s “We are spirits of another sort”

A new academic paper all about the otherkin community (and therianthropes as well, under the same word) was published in Nova Religio, a peer-reviewed journal about alternative and new religious movements. The article, “We are spirits of another sort: Ontological rebellion and religious dimensions of the otherkin community,” is by Joseph P. Laycock, Ph.D. 

A regular in the vampire community, Merticus, briefly summarized Laycock’s article.[9] Merticus says the article cites the writings of several participants of the otherkin community.

A regular in the therianthrope community, Citrakāyaḥ (a cheetah) read Laycock’s full article, and then thoroughly covered his responses in “A laycat’s review of ‘We are spirits of another sort.’” He says that Laycock emphasizes that the otherkin movement is not a religion, although it is often spiritual, and in some ways resembles a religion.[10]

 

Media exposure of therianthropes

During 2012-02, the furry news blog, Flayrah, listed several newspaper articles that mentioned therianthropes in addition to furries.[11]

 

New blogs

Birds of a Feather: by and for bird-people, created 2012-02.[12] This blog is full of essays about being therianthropes and otherkin who identify as birds. Authors include Acies (an eagle), Akhila (raven, leopard), GreyGhost (gryphon), Meirya (hawk, phoenix), and Tsu (swan). The blog accepts essays submitted by others.

I’ve seen a lot more otherkin-related blogs created recently, especially those hosted on Tumblr.com, but I’ll have to address them in another post.

 

More?

Due to my hiatus from the otherkin community during the past several months, I’m behind on my reading, and I’ve missed out on a lot. The above list is likely very incomplete. I’m going to need a lot of help filling in all the gaps.

If you or somebody who you know recently created new writing, art, or other creative works about otherkin or therianthropes, then please let me know, so that I can list them here next time. Please feel free to e-mail me about any such new discoveries at any time. That would be very helpful! Thank you!

- O. Scribner


Sources )
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings: none that I can think of.

November 12, 2011. Thingiverse user Artharis designed an animatronic tail, shown above. Artharis released the design under a Creative Commons license. Anyone with access to a 3D printer can print and assemble this costume accessory, and can customize its length by adding more vertebrae. When powered on, the animatronic tail wags constantly by itself. The vertebrae rotate somewhat, resulting in occasional curling near the tip, suggesting that this "tail" could equally well form the inner framework for a tentacle stage prop or puppet.

Compare an earlier prosthetic tail design by Hayaikawa Kitsune, the Firesmiths Anthro Tail Prosthetic, which takes a different approach: it appears to move by itself, but it’s not animatronic. In Kitsune’s design, the wearer controls tail movements by means of a shoulder harness, resulting in tail poses that seem natural and harmonious with the wearer's spine and body. This latter design is available only by commission from the designer.

- O. Scribner

Sources )

frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings: none that I can think of.

A Japanese company called Neurowear has formed to create high-tech products for a fashionable image of an “augmented human body.”1 Neurowear’s first product is a pair of wearable cat ears on a headband, named Necomimi (from Japanese neko cat + mimi ear). The headband includes brainwave sensors. Based on live data collected by these sensors, the cat ears move around to express the wearer’s inner feelings: perked up when alert, drooping when relaxed, and several other states in between.2

Admittedly, the body language of these ears noticeably differs from that of a real cat. The developers said, “For example, when cats are frightened or want to scare away an enemy, they flatten their ears. But with Necomimi, flat ears mean a relaxed state of mind … We have changed the meaning to suit human perceptions. To humans, it's kind of cute when cat ears are flat.”3 Anticipate miscommunications between animals and humans.

The November 28, 2011 issue of Time Magazine lists Necomimi as one of the 50 best inventions of the year.4

Neurowear recently stated that Necomimi will become commercially available in spring 2012.5 Since Necomimi is still in development, Neurowear hasn’t yet determined the price or other specifications,6 but Neurowear does say that Necomimi will cost “several hundred dollars per unit.”7 If you want your own Necomimi, follow the Neurowear blog to find out when they become available.8 Otherwise, you could fall prey to the bootleg fake Necomimi that started to appear last June, which probably have the high price and none of the performance.9

- O. Scribner

If you enjoy these updates, please leave a small tip.

Sources )

frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings for this article: none that I can think of.

On October 4, 2011, on Sweden's channel 5, a TV series titled Outsiders aired an episode about the furry fandom. This includes at least one furry fan who is also a therian.

You can watch the video itself on the official web site, in Swedish without subtitles, although some interviews are in spoken English:

To clarify how these terms are actually defined in our respective communities: Furry fans are not synonymous with therianthropes; their subcultures and priorities differ. People in the furry fandom do not necessarily identify as animals, in a spiritual way or otherwise. The furry fandom is primarily about appreciation of arts depicting humanized (anthropomorphic) animals. People who are therianthropes definitely do identify as animals, but they do not necessarily participate in the furry fandom.

According to Lanina, a therian in Sweden, this episode showed these people:

“- Big cat therian Pao …who wears cat ears and tail.
- A bunch of fursuiters, Swedish (person with snow leopard/wolf fursona), American (wolf fursona) and German (purple wolf fursona).

“During the entire programme they defined furry as ‘being spiritually connected to an animal’ or ‘wanting to be an animal’.”1


Lanina then wrote a few blog posts in Swedish regarding the episode: “Outsiders om furries (Outsiders on furries),” offering a definition of furry fans. “Freakshow,” about wariness about appearing on TV. “Live and let live,” about Pao, who herself has a blog where she is trying to clear up misconceptions after the episode.

Thanks to Lanina for bringing this to the attention of the Werelist forums. I have cited Lanina with her permission.

- O. Scribner

Source )
frameacloud: A stylized green dragon person reading a book. (Stylized green dragon person)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Content warnings for this article: blood.

Last February in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a performance artist named Marion Laval-Jeantet of the Art Orienté Objet collective recently did a piece called Que le cheval vive en moi! (Fr. May the Horse Live in Me!) in which she explored a method by which she may transform herself into a centaur or horse.1 She spent time with a live horse. Then, in a Swiss laboratory, she had herself carefully injected with small doses horse blood, specificially “the plasma and a large part of the immunoglobulins,” safely isolated according to advice from the Pasteur Institute.2 Then she walked in digitigrade hoof stilts,3 which resemble the leg extensions designed by Kim Graham a few years ago.4 (I don’t know if they are or not. I haven’t seen anything that tells.) Laval-Jeantet described how the transformation made her feel:

“So, after I tested my body with the neuroendocrine immunoglobulins it was practically impossible for me to sleep for a week and I had extreme and slightly aggressive reactions to stimuli; a slammed door, a tap on the shoulder. As such, I was experiencing the hyper-reactivity of the horse in my flesh. The main aim of the performance to come is to take in a large number of immunoglobulins all together, so that I can feel another way of living rather than just the human. If one goes back to the terminology of the posthuman, to be human outside of the human is, perhaps, to undergo this type of experience, where a man that becomes a human/animal hybrid is finally extra-human. … Perhaps its symbolic and empiric force will enable my (our?) consciousness to open up to an Other sufficiently "other" - to no longer be purely anthropocentric.”5


Laval-Jeantet says that her original plan for this project was to have herself injected with panda blood, so that an endangered animal would be able to live on within her even if the actual pandas went extinct. However, even after several years, she couldn’t find anyone willing to do this for her, so she settled for horse instead.6 Much of Laval-Jeantet’s artwork explores ways to transgress the boundaries between humans and animals, and some of her works were performed primarily for an animal audience, to see how the animals react.

Laval-Jeantet performed a similar piece in 2007, Félinanthropie, in which she wore an innovative cat costume, crouched on all fours, and spent time with a house-cat. Her cat costume included digitigrade leg extensions, an articulated tail, and no other costume elements (no mask). She wanted to not only explore the perceptions of a cat, but also to alter the perceptions of an actual cat as it relearned how to interact with her. She wrote of this piece,

“That’s when the idea occurred to me to become digitigrade. A kind of fantasy where I would be able to jump onto the table in a single leap with paws that were too long... I drew the ‘cat shoes,’ which a prosthetist then made. As soon as I put them on and got used to this strange way of walking, the cats came up to me, sniffed and jumped on me, playing with me in the same way as they played between themselves. The artistic object worked, it had moved my role in the feline, domestic hierarchy.”7


However, I notice that since Laval-Jeantet wears no extensions on her forelegs, her costume increases the difference in length between her arms and legs, making it more difficult to walk on all fours.

Laval-Jeantet has written an article titled “Self-animalité (Self-animality)” about the philosophy behind the transformations in her art, such as posthumanism and shamanism. She describes several of her other pieces, and offers anecdotes about the stories of Mazzeras (shamans who channel the spirits of dead animals to rescue them) who she heard about from her Corsican grandmother. Her article includes photos of some of her pieces, including the cat costume and a close-up on the horse leg extensions. Read it in French or in English.

Sources )
frameacloud: A stylized green dragon person reading a book. (Default)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings for this article: none I can think of. Work-safe. Enjoy!

Last Friday in Las Vegas, mer-people and mer-people fanciers attended the first annual Mer-Con 2011, the world’s largest mermaid convention. Men, women, and children swam while wearing fish tails, and competed in a beauty contest, the International Mermaid Pageant. Other attendees were mermaid-focused painters, authors, tail-makers, and other artisans.1

What kind of people real mermaids, exactly? I ask for your forgiveness in advance, as I am probably going to make some mistakes here as I try to answer this question. I not familiar with their subculture, but evidently they have one. The official Mer-Con site mentions that one of the attending authors is working on a non-fiction book about mermaid culture.2 MerNetwork is a social networking site for mer-people, established in 2010, originally with the intention of connecting performers with tail-makers.

The definition for real mermaids includes—but is not limited to—dancers who perform while skin-diving, during which they may or may not wear fish-tails.3 This type of performance was invented in Weeki Wachee, Florida, “in 1947 by an ex-Navy frogman named Newton Perry.”4 Some Weeki Wachee mermaids performed at Mer-Con, and at an earlier event this year, Mermaid Camp at Weeki Wachee. One experienced Weeki Wachee mermaid, Barbara Wynns, now age 61, says that

“I knew when I was 7 years old I was going to be a mermaid. Yeah right, you say! Me too, but when I first saw the show at Weeki Wachee … I was like, oh my gosh you can get paid to do that? I made up my mind then that I wasn’t going to college, wasn’t going to get married, I was going to be a Weeki Wachee mermaid. [… When I was 7, I had been] daydreaming, and I saw clearly I was going to be a mermaid, and not a cartoon character one, a real one. I just saw it clearly.”5


Some modern mer-people are not just performers, but people who express a serious desire to become real mer-people, or who assert that they are now real mer-people. I am not clear on the boundaries, but evidently for some, it is more than a costume or a role. It is an identity.

A performer who attended the convention, Mermaid Shelley, said in an interview, “When I was a little girl and saw the movie Splash, I knew instantly that I was meant to be a mermaid. Something about Madison’s outsider perspective on human society and her understanding of the depths of the ocean just resonated with me.” When asked, “Have you always identified as a mermaid?” Shelley replied, “Yes, I think I have since I was about nine years old. … It wasn’t until I met my boyfriend (now husband of 16 years) Chris that I really started embracing it culturally.”6 In her blog, A Mermaid’s Journey: Thoughts of a mermaid in this world, Shelley writes eloquently about environmental issues from a mermaid perspective, and apparently not as a role-playing character.7

Participating New Age author and fish-tailed performer8 Doreen Virtue has written a little in her books about people who identify as mermaids and/or believe that they were marine animals in their past lives.9 Participating mermaid Allie Causin indicated a preference for life underwater and said, “I’ve discovered that I hate having legs.”10 Hannah Fraser (not attending this event?), who has a talent for skin-diving with a fish-tail, says “I’m a mermaid,” and as a child, “she told her parents that she wanted to become one—for real.”11 Traci Hines performs as a lookalike for Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, calls it cosplaying, and says,

“I think a part of me has always been ‘Ariel’ on the inside…we’re a lot alike I think…but ever since I dyed my blonde hair red, and began actually performing as The Little Mermaid for children, even when I am out of costume I think I tend to take more care in how I act and present myself, at least whenever little ones are around, since they always seemed to believe I was her regardless of what I was wearing! Even in jeans on the street I would be stopped and asked almost daily if I was ‘The Little Mermaid.’”12


Raina the Halifax Mermaid (Stephanie) describes how her more confident mermaid persona is an acting role, which has nonetheless changed her life for the better:

“Through Raina I’ve met and made more real friends then I ever did as Stephanie and perhaps that’s because Raina is just an outward expression of my true inner-self. The gap between the two is closing though and Raina and Stephanie are becoming one and the same. I’m starting to realize it’s not the fin that makes the mermaid- it’s her spirit!”13


I recommend Carolyn Turgeon’s blog, I Am A Mermaid. (Caution, NSFW. No actual nudity, but mermaids are not known for wearing a lot of clothes, either.) It includes interviews with many mermaid and mermaid-interested people, in which they explain how they are mermaids, advice to aspiring mermaids (such as safety tips for swimming with a uni-fin), and what they see as special about mermaids. Many of them answered that last question in beautiful ways, but this is one of my favorites, by fantasy author (not a performing mermaid) Sarah Porter:

“I love the image of a divided nature: human vs. other, visible vs. secret and subaquatic, everyday vs. magic. If you only saw a mermaid as she was rising to the surface, you could think she was a human girl. Her tail is like the secret side of her personality, her hidden self, or the unconscious mind.”14


In the otherkin community, mermaids are a surprisingly scarce type of otherkin. In all, I’ve heard of perhaps three of them in the otherkin community. Nonetheless, it seems that there is a substantial community of people out there who do identify as mermaids and mermen. It’s just that nearly all the mer-people don’t call themselves otherkin, and they don’t mingle in otherkin communities. Is this by choice? Or could it be that they have not heard of “otherkin,” which is still a very obscure concept?

Sources )

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