Author Archives: Stefan Geens

The making of Virtu-real goes Tokyo

Studio unreal have posted a video of the making of their installation at the Embassy of Tokyo. You can watch it here.

Season’s greetings from us



Virtu-real goes Tokyo in action

Here’s how you can interact with Virtu-real goes Tokyo from anywhere in the world, not just in SL or the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo:

Send a short email to Leave the subject line empty. In the body, write a message of up to 30 characters.


Within seconds of sending it, the message starts raining out of the sky at the Virtu-real installation at the Second House of Sweden, like so:




Who gets to see your message? Anyone visiting the installation in Second Life at that time, but also visitors to the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo, where two screens on either ends of a real-life installation look into the virtual space in real time.

In the Second Life part of the installation, there is also a screen that lets you see into the real-life embassy in Tokyo. As I was writing this article, some schoolgirls in Tokyo had discovered that if they danced in front of one side of the installation and then dashed to the other side, they could see themselves dancing on the screen inside Second Life, due to the 10-second lag for buffering. They were having a grand time, doing this over and over again.

Virtu-Real goes Tokyo preview shots

It’s down to the final hours before “Virtu-Real goes Tokyo” goes live, both in Second Life and at the Swedish embassy in Tokyo — on Monday, December 8, at 2:30am Second Life time (10.30am Stockholm time, 6:30pm Tokyo time.

In the meantime, here are some screenshots to whet your appetite:




Press release: Swedish Lucia in Second Life – 2008

By the people of Sweden in Second Life (and funded by the Swedish Institute)

After last year’s huge success, Lucia visits Second Life again in 2008!

Every year on December 13, Santa Lucia arrives in Sweden to announce the Christmas season. This year, she will once again visit Second Life as well – and the festivities start Friday evening, December 12.

The Lucia celebration features a procession led by a woman representing Saint Lucia, who — dressed in white robes, with a headdress of candles — repels the darkness with a halo of light. The procession is accompanied by the singing of traditional Swedish songs.

The Lucia event in Second Life gives participants an opportunity to meet a real Swedish Lucia, listen to her entourage of singers, see a Christmas tree, visit Santa, receive Swedish freebie gifts, and dance to Swedish and international music, including live performances.

By tradition, the identity of this year’s Lucia is a well-protected secret until the December 12.

When: The procession will be held twice: First, on December 12, 1pm Second Life time (4pm New York time, 10pm Stockholm time); the procession is then repeated four hours later at 5pm SLT (8pm in NYC, 2am in Stockholm on 13 December)
Where: Second House of Sweden, on the Swedish Institute sim

Organizers of this year’s Lucia event in Second Life are Ika Cioc, Ewa Aska, Charlotte Rhino, Belze Fraker, Cur Waydelich and producer Tina (PetGirl) Bergman.

All residents of Second Life are very welcome to attend.

Press release: Virtu-Real goes Tokyo

By: studio un/real + TEAM
Commissioned by: The Swedish Institute


Quality of Life – the Design of Swedish Innovations, December 8, 2008 – January 14, 2009
Swedish Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, and Second House of Sweden, Swedish Institute Sim, Second Life

Tokyo, Japan – With their latest new media architecture installation, architects Daiki Kobayashi and Michael Matèrn, continue to stretch the boundries between real and virtual space. They will be part of “Quality of Life – the Design of Swedish Innovations”, an exhibition at the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo, opening on December 8.

The young Swedish-Japanese duo, known by their alter egos of Mr Kobayashi & Mr Matèrn, together form the architecture firm studio un/real. They work together with +TEAM, a creative platform for architects, designers and other creatives.

“We really try to give the visitors an experience of a unique atmosphere of being in between the hard, vector- produced digital computer world and our soft and very tactile DNA-based everyday life,” says Kobayashi, the Japanese half of studio un/real.

The site specific installation, the second of four commissioned by the Swedish Institute, a public agency promoting Sweden abroad, plays with the perception of 2D and 3D space. Through an interface of body movements and mobile phones, visitors can interact in a space in between the real and the virtual.

“The Virtu-Real concept is basically about trying to merge virtual and real life in a spatial way. When you physically move in real life, you also move in relation to the virtual world, thus creating a new kind of spatial interface,” explains Matèrn, the Swedish half of studio un/real. By using the traditional methods of perspective painting as a textile 3D collage (instead of on a flat canvas plane), it is the inevitable continuation of concepts such as Murakami’s Superflat ideas and the post-modern database.

This 3D-goes-2D surface is then hardwired into an online virtual world. As visitors become the ‘Final Artist’, using both digital and analog tools and codes, the installation reassembles the whole event into a representation of the ultimate database: Virtu-Real.

Although only an addition to an existing exhibition space in the Swedish embassy in Tokyo, the installation creates a new way to interact with the virtual online world of Second Life and its users. By walking around this 4 x 14 meter interactive textile collage, visitors can not only look into, but actually through the online virtual space and back into the real embassy again.

Visitors can also send text messages from their mobile phones into the virtual continuation of this space and communicate with exhibition visitors inside Second Life, who can text back into real space. The messages sent into Second Life will be displayed as 3D objects in the virtual world, at the same time the text messages sent from inside Second Life will be projected onto the surface of the installation in the embassy. Video streaming will also allow visitors in both Second Life and the real-life embassy to see each other. With the use of traditional Scandinavian arts and crafts material, such as felt and paper, for the real life exhibition space addition, studio un/real + TEAM designed, engineered and constructed the installation on site in a true database spirit.

Press photos available for download as of December 8 at:
(preview 3D-rendering available for download as of now at:

Sponsor: Kvadrat Sanden
For more information about the members of +TEAM, see:
Press contact: Mr Matèrn
Phone: +46 (0)70 5511 441

Press contact – Japan only: Mr Kobayashi
Phone: +81 909 3535 682

Follow the US elections in Second Life

The world’s most important elections are upon us. In real life, the House of Sweden in Washington DC is being used today as the headquarters for Swedish media and its punditocracy, and they’ll be analyzing into the small hours of the night as the election results come in.

In Second Life, Second House of Sweden has just been given a similar function. With the help of Second Lifer Tina Dahl (thanks for the map and the megaprims!) and the fact that you can now render HTML with Javascript in Second Life, we’ve added a Google Map of state electoral results, updated live as results come in, to the facade of our virtual building:



So if you feel the need to celebrate (or commiserate) virtually with friends around the globe as the next president of the US is chosen tonight, feel free to use the facilities of Second House of Sweden:-)

Update: It worked! Google’s KML geospatial markup language loads well on web pages rendered in Second Life:


A quick tour of Second Life

Soon, our new Swedish Institute interns will start keeping office hours at the Second House of Sweden. Some will be new to Second Life, so we thought it would be useful to make a list of cool must-see places to visit, as part of the training. Here they are:

Svarga, a classic Second Life fantasy, with really high build quality. Jump into the buggy for a guided tour, or fly around yourself.

Sculpted Earth, by Magnuz, a Swedish SL developer. Walk around a model of Earth with magnified height data. Walk into the globe for more.

3D Map of Sweden, also by Magnuz. Walk around it for different perspectives. Click the map to get a menu of options.

Sistine Chapel at Vassar College: At this university’s sim, find the recreation of the Sistine Chapel nearby.

David Rumsey Maps: The world’s largest map collection shown in 3D. Fly across the landscape and into the globes for more.

The International Spaceflight Museum is the only place anywhere where you can compare relative sizes of rockets. Also check out the Lunar Lander module, and the Science on a Sphere video.

Virtual Briefing Hub: Turn on video, click on some of the available buttons, and watch the map appear.

Second Sweden, the largest Swedish presence in Second Life. Run around Gamla Stan, or find the skyscraper of the Swedish state real-estate company HSB.

Kamimo Island, a collaborate e-learning experiment that includes Sweden’s university of Kalmar. Try the sandbox if you want to have a go at building something yourself. Don’t worry, you can’t do anything wrong:-)

Greenies! Buy a decoder ring (L$99) at the entrance with your Linden Dollars to access this sim. One of my favorite sims.

Lauk’s Nest, where you can enjoy the view or try some of the instruments. This works best when you have some friends with you.

Last, but not least, the Second House of Sweden. Welcome to Sweden’s official representation to Second Life. Check out the exhibitions, but don’t miss the Raoull Wallenberg immersive radio play at the back of the embassy.

These places are a subjective choice, of course; there are many more impressive Second Life destinations, and the above list is not meant to be a “best of”, but I do think it gives a good idea of what Second Life can be used for. If you have your own favorite places that you think are must-see, do add them in the comments.

Celebrate European Language Day – September 26

Come celebrate European Language Day on the roof of Second House of Sweden, where the LiteraTour in Library 2.0 will be holding a multilingual language café.

The topic is Bernard Schlink’s The Reader, which you will be able to discuss in English, Swedish, German, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese.

When: Meet at 2pm CET (Central European time), September 26, for an hour-long conversation.

“LiteraTour” is a Grundtvig project within the EU “Programme for Lifelong Learning”. Participants are adult learners and staff in language schools and libraries in Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Greece.

eLearning 2.0 Report

Around 30 people in Stockholm and 25 people at the Second House of Sweden (with a few overlaps) gathered for an all-day eLearning 2.0 conference today, organized by Åke Nygren of the Swedish Association for Information Specialists (SFIS). Events in real life were broadcast live into Second Life, and vice versa:

The two main speakers were D.I. von Briesen, discussing the integration of Moodle and Second Life for elearning (presentation), and Angele Giuliano discussing tips and tricks for creating a successful elearning experience (presentation). Several web meeting tools were also demoed, including Adobe Acrobat Connect, the free DimDim and WiZiQ.

Thanks to everyone who participated.