I have mixed feelings about posting this video, and WordPress won’t let me paste the object/embed code–not sure what’s up with that, so here’s a link instead:
It is supposedly a work of “multimedia art” (in the words of the usually hip Salon.com), shown at the usually hip Sundance, which shows how virtual sweatshop workers can design jean styles in Second Life and then print them into clothes in real life. This is disappointing as “art,” because I expect art to push conceptual limits, to stretch my thinking, and not merely to play catch-up to concepts that are passé to anyone who isn’t a complete noob in virtual worlds.
But it is not as disappointing as experimental e-commerce. Set aside the facile pedantry about sweatshops, and instead imagine these machines not as “virtual sweatshops” but rather as self-service clothing design and purchase portals: now the consumer gets to style and construct, in a social virtual space, the pants that they buy. This design carries on the logic of those build-a-bear stores into virtual reality, and it is reasonable to speculate that the engagement offered by those build-a-bear stores just might translate into everyday RL fashion shopping.
File this under “right idea, but for the wrong reason.”