Virtual and Realworld Art rubs shoulders at Ten Cubed

1st of February 2008 by conor

Haydn Shaughnessy has just launched the virtual art gallery Ten Cubed in Second Life. As a confirmed SL cynic, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. However Haydn is one of the smartest guys around in media, tech and journalism so it had to be worth a look.


I have to say it’s pretty damned awesome. The idea is radical but seems like a logical progression from e-commerce to v-commerce. You walk around a virtual gallery and look at the art hanging on the walls. Some of it exists in the “real world”, some of it only in Second Life. But here’s the twist – you can buy either!

I initially didn’t understand the concept of buying virtual art but there are tons of companies with their own “offices” in SL who are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars getting them built. As with real buildings, these can only be improved with the addition of art.

The advantage on the real-world side is that you can get a much better sense of the art hanging on a wall in 3-D than you can looking at flat scans on a web-site.

Now I have all the artistic sensibilities of a corpse but there is some fantastic stuff in the gallery. I saw some of it when Haydn had the Gallery in Harbour View and it impresses just as much in a virtual setting. The other thing which is very obvious is the intelligent design of Ten Cubed. You have none of that usual 3-D world “where do I go?”. You are naturally guided in particular directions.

Even if you just want to see what eBay might look like in five years time, it is well worth your while checking this out.

6 Responses to “Virtual and Realworld Art rubs shoulders at Ten Cubed”

Thanks for those kind words – I too am a Second Life sceptic but recently I got talking with Robert Lai who runs the Chinese Cyber Recreation District.

Robert’s job is to get 150 million Chinese families and businesses into virtual worlds by October 2010. In Korea over 70% of the population are already in virtual worlds. Purely from the point of view of where commerce is headed, as we increasingly need to save on travel and other carbon output activities, virtual worlds make sense.

But they are also far better interfaces than the keyboard is. True right now we manipulate avatars through keyboards but that’s fast disappearing – a voice presence is normal and natural and we’ll no doubt go to joysticks and then pure movement, as with the Wii. People who type into the computer to reach me on the web will be redundant in five years time.

We’re also engaged more and more in an economy based around creativity and imagination. In a virtual world you can understand that better.

One of the things Ten Cubed is doing is to sell totally intangible assets – simulations. We have art work in signed and numbered editions that we believe will become part of a new series of market for intangibles – they exist in virtuality and to a certain extent in the imagination. I think these will be products of the future and I can well imagine going to auctions in three years time to bid on works of value that have no physical reality.

Oh you really grabbed me with the Wii mention there! Dennis Howlett recently linked to an awesome video demo by some SAP people of using the controllers with business visualisation software. I’ll see if I can dig it out. We’re only scratching the surface of what can be done with UIs.

Yes, awesome.

I’ve been having some of this debate also over at the guardian blogs – their arts reviewer picked up the launch – people there are saying art is best viewed on a website rather than in a 3D world. I can hardly believe it. catch_of_the_day_second_lifes.html

I’m struggling to work out how they could be right . On the wii my kids each have about 20 avatars each – they have a new hobby – making avatars. We have to hydrate them after half an hour of playing they are so into the movement.

I can’t imagine this isn’t going to be the UI very soon on the web – all that wil stop it is Linden Labs incompetence at dealing with the development of their platform.

Are they serious? But you can’t even get a sense of the scale of a piece on a web-site, let alone get a feeling for how it looks in-context.

I think my daughter prefers just creating Miis than playing the games. Wii controller shows what is possible with off the shelf technology and some smart thinking (ditto the DS). Sony has a lot to learn from Nintendo.

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