Press release: Virtu-Real goes Tokyo

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

tokoy-press-teaser-med

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: www.studiounreal.com/tokyo
(preview 3D-rendering available for download as of now at: www.studiounreal.com/preview)

Sponsor: Kvadrat Sanden
For more information about the members of +TEAM, see: www.studiounreal.com/TEAM
Press contact: Mr Matèrn
Email: mrmatern@studiounreal.com
Phone: +46 (0)70 5511 441
www.studiounreal.com

Press contact – Japan only: Mr Kobayashi
Email: mrkobayashi@studiounreal.com
Phone: +81 909 3535 682
www.studiounreal.com

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:

mapshos2008

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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:

snapshot2_003

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.

eLearning 2.0: Live all day Friday

Just a quick reminder: We’ll be live streaming the eLearning 2.0 Conference on Friday September 5 from Stockholm into the Second House of Sweden auditorium. The sessions start at 9am and will finish around 6pm, Stockholm time (midnight to 9am, Second Life time).

eLearning 2.0 is being organized by the Swedish Association for Information Specialists (SFIS) and will be conducted in English.

Here’s what the schedule looks like:

Friday, September 5
8:30am: Registration. Coffee and sandwich.
9:00am: Introduction to eLearning 2.0
9:15am: Conference tool kit: Second life, Jaiku, Facebook
9:45am: Web Conferencing Tools – overview for education and effective meetings (Mats Brenner, NSHU)
10:00am: The Best of Both Worlds! Moodle + Second Life = Sloodle (D.I. von Briesen)
12:00pm: lunch
1:00pm: Let’s Web Conference! (Part 1) Angele GIULIANO. Tips and tricks for successful web conferencing
2:00pm: Adobe Connect (Dan Lidholm, WeZupport)
2:20pm: DimDim (Sundar Subramanian, Co-Founder of DimDim and Director of Business Development)
2:40pm: WiZiQ – A free virtual classroom tool that needs no downloads! (Marc Cruthers)
3:00pm: Coffee & Visit to Kista Science Tower
3:30pm: Let’s Web Conference! (Part 2) Tips and tricks for successful web conferencing
4:30pm: Conclusions / end discussion / evaluation

I’ll be moderating in Second Life, if the need arises, making sure that participants in Second Life can take part by asking questions to the real-life moderator. It will be a laid-back affair, and take place all day long, so drop in and take a look or spend a longer time on those sessions you’re interested in. Alas, the only food and drinks you’ll get during breaks at the Second House of Sweden will be virtual:-)

Watch EuroPride live at the Second House of Sweden – 16.30 CET, July 30

Can’t make it to EuroPride in Stockholm? You are hereby cordially invited to join the Pride festivities at the Second House of Sweden, Sweden’s virtual Embassy in Second Life.

Not only have we draped the embassy in Pride colors, we’ve also set up a giant screen to broadcast live video and audio from Pride Park. Come watch with us on the embassy lawn as you share a virtual cocktail with friends and meet new people from all over the world.

The party starts at 16.30 CET (7.30 SL time) on July 30, 2008. (If the planned Second Life rolling restart hasn’t been completed by then, we’ll start as soon as the sim is accessible.)

Thanks once again to Tina (Petgirl) Bergman for donating the fine picnic equipment for the lawn and for installing the gigantic Pride flag and screen.

(You can also watch the live streaming video on the web at the Stockholm Pride website, but in Second Life you can watch it and simultaneously discuss it with other online viewers. And that’s not possible in real life:-))

(PS: Sorry about the late announcement, but the time of the start of the live video feed was only just confirmed.)

September 5: eLearning 2.0 live in Second Life

On September 5, join us at the Second House of Sweden auditorium for a live video simulcast of the eLearning 2.0 conference being held in Kista, near Stockholm. The conference, organized by SFIS, the Swedish Association for Information Specialists, will present a roster of speakers describing the latest elearning tools, including Second Life. You can find out more information on the official eLearning 2.0 blog.

The conference will last all day from 9am to 6pm. We plan to be there and broadcast all the sessions live into Second Life.

Second Life Pride

Every year, the Stockholm Pride festival celebrates the queer lifestyle, showcasing the tolerant and open society that Sweden is famous for. This year, the festivities are from July 25 – Aug 3, and will be augmented by EuroPride 2008, a Europe-wide initiative;festival speakers will include Cecilia Malmström, Sweden’s minister for EU Affairs.

Second Life too has been holding Pride events, and to mark the occasion both in real life and in Second Life, the Second House of Sweden has now been draped in Pride colors, thanks to an initiative by Tina Dahl (aka Petgirl Bergman). Here’s what it looks like, but go visit yourself:

Multilingual Literary Language Café, 18 June 2008

We’re happy to announce that the Language Café will be holding at session at the amphitheater of the Second House of Sweden on June 18, 2008, starting at 19.30 Stockholm time (10.30 SL time).

The Language café is part of LiteraTour in Library 2.0, an ongoing project sponsored by the European Union’s Grundtvig lifelong learning program, and is organized by Åke Nygren, the coordinator of the Lifelong Learning Initiative at the Stockholm Public Library.

Language Café is multilingual, drop by for a visit and see how easy it is to discuss literature in a virtual environment, no matter where you are or what your best language is.

Below are some details for the June 18 meeting. Do visit the home page for more information.

Agenda
7.30pm Introduction to LiteraTour 2.0 (English)
7.45pm Identity, Memory and Territory in literature (English)
8.00pm Discuss in the language of your choice!
(English, Swedish, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese)
8.20pm Summary of the discussions (English)

See you there!