Monthly Archives: January 2008

Virtu-Real credits

I’m back in Cairo now after a hectic week in Washigton DC, finally with some more time to give credit where it is due for “House of Sweden goes Virtu-Real”, the wonderful installation that brings together the House of Sweden and Second House of Sweden.


The Swedish Institute commissioned it and funded the installation, but the concept and the construction is by studio un/real, comprised of Mr. Matèrn and Mr. Kobayashi, a Swedish-Japanese architectural duo that first met at the architecture faculty of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

studio un/real had help. For the preparation and construction phase in Washington DC, it had the support of studio un/real team, “a creative collaboration platform for architects, designers, artists and performers.” Specifically, Kristin Gausdal and Markus Wagner were in Washington DC to collaborate on the construction and the technical setup.

The Electric Sheep Company, which built the original Second House of Sweden, was responsible for a crucial bit of technological hacking — they converted an old Ericsson telephone into a device for calling Second Life, and wrote the necessary interface software to make it work.

Finally, there was great support from the staff at the House of Sweden in Washington DC, who facilitated the setup and continue to be unremittingly enthusiastic about the installation. They are also our eyes and ears and hands if something goes wrong with the installation and needs tweaking.

I’m going to take some vacation now, but will be back in a few weeks with more news about upcoming projects this year at Second House of Sweden.


Virtu-Real on TV:-)

House of Sweden goes Virtu-Real made it to the morning news on Fox News in Washington DC. Click on the image below to get to the site where the video plays. It gives you a very good idea of what we’re doing here.


Scenes from a Virtu-Real party

The inauguration of the “Innovation & Technology” exhibition at the House of Sweden in Washington DC went off without a hitch… And so did the installation “House of Sweden goes Virtu-Real”. I’ve added some more pictures to the Flickr set:

If you missed the inauguration, you can visit the installation yourself until March 16, either i Second Life or in Washington DC.

Below, the press release that was sent out earlier today:

House of Sweden goes Virtu-Real
By Studio Unreal + Team and the Swedish Institute
January 8 – March 16, 2008
House of Sweden, Washington DC — Second House of Sweden, Second Life.

Join us either in the real world or in the virtual world of Second Life to visit a brand-new installation that spans both places: A room that is partly at Second House of Sweden in Second Life, and partly in the real world, at the House of Sweden in Washington, DC.

The installation is part of an exhibition at the House of Sweden running from January 8 to March 16 that highlights Swedish technology and innovation. But if you are not in Washington DC, you too can visit — in fact, your presence in Second Life is crucial to making the installation “House of Sweden goes Virtu-Real” work.

What does the installation do?

  • In the real world: As you approach the installation, a projection on a glass wall allows the room to continue into Second Life, where you can see avatars in real time visiting the room in Second Life. Beside the screen there is a “pixel cave”, a booth with an old Ericsson phone and smaller screen that lets you see the virtual room from the side. Pick up the phone, and a virtual phone will ring in Second Life. Anyone visiting the room in Second Life can answer the phone (by clicking on it) and talking to you.
  • In Second Life: Visit the installation at Second House of Sweden, just behind the reception desk as you enter. Once there, turn on video to see a live view of the real-world exhibit along one wall. Remember, they can see you too! There is a big pink phone in the room. Touch it, and a real phone will ring at the exhibition. If somebody there picks up, you can have a conversation. Remember to have voice chat enabled.

The installation is conceived and created by Studio Unreal + Team, an architectural collective with roots in KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. The installation is commissioned and funded by the Swedish Institute, a government agency involved in public Diplomacy.

Some photos of the installation and its construction in Washington DC:

More information about the installation at:

More information about the real-world exhibition.

Location of the Second House of Sweden:
You can visit Second House of Sweden from here:

To register for Second Life (free):

Opening hours:
In the real world, 12-6pm Wednesday to Friday, 12-4pm Saturday and Sunday (Washington DC time)
In Second Life: 24/7! (Tough when the exhibition is closed, there will be nobody to talk to in the real world.)

Second House of Sweden invades House of Sweden

…and the Second House of Sweden project comes full circle as it takes over a room in the (real-world) House of Sweden in Washington DC. Today, everything is ready — studio unreal has been putting the final touches on the installation, press photos have been taken, and at 7pm tonight (1am Swedish time) the inauguration takes place.

I took some photos of the real-world half of the installation. You can see the whole set on Flickr.

You too can visit the installation just by showing up at Second House of Sweden in Second Life.

House of Sweden Goes Virtu-Real: 8 January – 16 March

Happy 2008! And now back to work experimenting with public diplomacy in virtual worlds…


I’m currently in Washington DC at the (real) House of Sweden, which houses Sweden’s Embassy to the United States. I’m here because on Tuesday, January 8 we’re inaugurating an art installation at the (real) House of Sweden that exists partly in Second Life. The installation is one of several in “Innovation & Technology”, an aptly named exhibition highlighting Sweden’s tradition of technological innovation that runs until March 16.

Everyone is invited to attend the virtual opening of the installation, “House of Sweden Goes Virtu-Real”, at Second House of Sweden in Second Life. Here is a sneak preview…



If you’re in the (real) House of Sweden, you’ll approach a glass wall through which you see a continuation of the room in Second Life. There is also an old Ericsson phone there, with which you can make a phone call to the visitors of the room in Second Life.

If you’re in the room at the Second House of Sweden, one side of the room is continued in the real-world embassy. Here too you’ll find a phone, which you can use to call people at the embassy.

The installation was conceived by studio un/real + TEAM, a Stockholm-based architectural collective with roots at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), and funded by the Swedish Institute. You can see some of the team members at work on the installation in the photos above.

The official inauguration is at 19.30 Washington DC time, or 1.30 Swedish time (i.e. early Wednesday), and everyone is invited, but if that time is a bit inconvenient for you, drop by anytime during the day on the 8th, as we’ll be putting the finishing touches on the installation and showing off the exhibition to the press.