Can a computer dream of being a human? What if it dreamed of being a human who dreamed of being a talking animal? With the help of Janelle Shane, a research scientist in photonics, we may just find out what furry aliases such a machine would create.
Janelle has achieved fame for her humorous use of artificial intelligence to generate names for things such as pubs, diseases, beers, and My Little Ponies. She's also directed neural networks to create recipes and write Harry Potter fanfiction.
Fursonas has certainly already stirred the fandom up with its announcement. This independent documentary film made by Dominic Rodriguez was developed over 4 years from 2012 to 2015. It follows a handful of furries from different walks of life and their take on their identity and the identity of this crazy little group they find themselves within.
The film is broken up into two main parts. The first half introduces the fur fans that we'll be getting perspectives from, and the second half gets into topics that are typically the main controversies of the fandom: sex, the media, and the conflict between individual identity and complying to societal norms.
TRIGGER WARNING: If you a major fan, or personal friend, of Uncle Kage then this film may prove difficult to watch. Oh yeah, and there is a scene with dildos as well, so viewer discretion and such.
I wanted to talk to people who are passionate. That was a good line to draw: if you’re going to go so far as to make or buy a costume, you’re passionate about furry. When I asked the people in the film if you consider furry a lifestyle, half of them said no.
JS: Other than the badges of the furries interviewed, there’s no furry art in the film. Do you think you should’ve included some art?
DR: The thing I knew when I went into this is everybody has a different way of experiencing and appreciating furry. There’s no way to please everybody or to accurately do justice to everything unless the movie was six hours. I had to be selfish and focus on what really mattered to me which is furry as an identity and as a community. I love art and you can show footage of people drawing; but I wanted to do something different, something I cared about. I wasn’t going to spend four years on something I didn’t care about.
When people say furry isn’t a lifestyle I understand that, but when they say it’s just a hobby I think they’re almost giving it a disservice. There’s so much wrapped up in it, and I think people in it take it seriously. I don’t want people to think [the fandom is] just freaks obviously, but it was important people cared about what they were talking about.
If any of you readers are like me, then you only follow Flayrah when it comes to furry news. I saw an article shared around a year ago about furry music, and that's how I found this site.
But amidst the posts about cons being cancelled and the abundance of Zootopia reviews came a shining light no one saw coming. Mostly because even on a site about the very subject it is meant to educate on, it got no attention.
This film is Fursonas, a documentary about the furry lifestyle. A detailed look at the friendly fandom that CSI ruined public perception of all those years ago, such that we still feel repercussions today. It wasn't until my best bud crossaffliction mentioned this movie in, of course, a Zootopia-related post that I became aware of it. I started to dig, and realized what a gem we'd been missing.
Dogpatch Press (who I've now since started to follow alongside Flayrah) posted an incredible article on this film, which I suggest all members read, as this post is just to drum up hype for this film. One line from that article holds substantial water for me; Zootopia is the film we want, but Fursonas is the film we need.
Furries gives a candid commentary that reveals details about 'fursuits', 'fursonas' and the 'furry fandom'. Award winning photographer Carmen Dobre continues her examination of 'furries', who they are and how they perceive themselves. Documentary style portraits alongside one-to-one interviews reveal the intriguing passions of people whose human identity is challenged by their love of their chosen animal persona/fursona. The first colour illustrated book featuring an international cross-section of individuals who choose to dress as animals and why. (blurb)
Leave it to Academia to get it almost but not quite right. Furry fandom is about more than just the furry lifestylers, of course, but this artistic collection of photo-interviews with fifteen fursuiters (and their mates) does get all genuine furry lifestylers. Each portrait identifies the British, Dutch, French, or German lifestyler in an average of two pages of text, followed by eight pages of beautifully-posed full-colour photographs; two of the fan posed in his home or apartment, a closeup or two of his fursuit, and four or five of his messy home. Most of the fursuiters look like typical college students living in batchelor apartments, including those married and long out of college.
If you were waiting for a coffee-table book mixing fursuiting and cultural research, Furries: Enacting Animal Anthropomorphism might be it. It was created by Romanian Carmen Dobre, a Master in both cultural studies (Univ. of Bucharest) and photographic studies (Leiden), who is pursuing a PhD at the Bucharest National University of Arts. [tip: Dr. Kathy Gerbasi]
The 152 page hardback contains 49 photographs, 13 of which can be previewed online (scroll in for a full view). Produced by the University of Plymouth, it's also available from eBay UK or Australia, Amazon U.S. or Canada, Albris, and Fishpond.
Carmen's furry photography began in Holland as a university project, and spread to France, Romania, Germany, and the UK (assisted by Fotonow CIC). Her work was exhibited September-October 2011 (video) at the Rue de l'Exposition gallery. One photo was a finalist for the 2013 Celeste Prize. She has also created a brief study of furry fandom (PDF).
Fancy video chatting or recording a digital movie using an avatar of your fursona which mimics your facial expressions, powered by an ordinary webcam and a large-latte-priced software licence? Internet startup FaceRig aims to provide such a service; and ultimately affordable, studio-quality, immersive virtual reality.
The full version of what FaceRig describes as a Digital Alter-Ego Framework might be a long way off, but the initial webchat application is currently in development and seeking backers on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Almost $200,000 has been raised to date, with 33 days to go.
Licences for home and commercial use will be available, with prices starting at $5 during the crowdfunding phase and a predicted eventual cost of less than $15 for home users. More heavyweight versions of the software will incur a greater cost. There are also plans for mobile versions on iOS and Android.
Members of the Anthropomorphic Research Project have launched a new online survey about fursonas, to answer "questions furries (and psychologists alike) have been asking", covering the relationship between:
[…] furries and their fursonas, including the perceived functions of fursonas, the ways they manifest themselves for different furries, and the extent to which furries see their fursonas as being similar or different from their own personality.
Participants, who must be 18 or over, have the option to enter a draw for a $50 Amazon gift certifiate in return for the 20-30 minute survey. The group is also running reaction time tests at Anthrocon 2013 in the Westin on Friday and Saturday, focused on how furs see:
[…] the complex relationship between human beings and animals on this planet.
The team is still signing participants up for their existing longitudinal survey.
I haven't seen this shared around until I noticed it on the Bay Area Furries mailing list.
According to their website:
What's your Fursona? Thats [sic] the million dollar question asked in this fast paced black comedy web series about the adventures of Virginia Blake - a successful investigative journalist - who is writing an expose on the FURRY underworld to save her tarnished career!
The furry experience addresses a nearly universal desire to be seen as you feel you are
Whether you are a fur (who feels a species identity different than your human skin shows), a transgender (who feels a gender different than your birth body shows), or just differently colored, shaped, or pigmented than those around you, probably all furries and their kin were likely acutely aware at an age as young age as 4-8 years old that how people saw and treated them was very different than what they felt they were like inside.
This is true for all humans, in fact, who are instantly judged at some level based on impressions: blonde, female, Mexican, Asian, African, and so on, which also have nothing to do with who you are inside. Where furs step off this path of false impressions is that we, nearly uniquely, create a fursona that we own (we feel it, we made it, it was not set a birth), and then we project and interact based upon that character.