Lame and Obvious Multimedia Art or Novel Ecommerce Prototype?

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:

http://www.salon.com/ent/video_dog/ifc/2008/01/23/sundance_newfrontier/index.html

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.”

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About jeffreybardzell

Jeffrey Bardzell is an Associate Professor of HCI/Design in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University - Bloomington. His research foci include critical design, interaction criticism, research through design, and digital creativity, which he approaches from a perspective that reflects his background in the humanities.
This entry was posted in Corporate, Fashion, Interaction Design, SecondLife, Wearable Computing. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Lame and Obvious Multimedia Art or Novel Ecommerce Prototype?

  1. Susan Coleman Morse says:

    I vote for e-commerce! Sell it to Bravo and have the contestants on Project Runway and have the contestants meet and design for clients in second life 🙂

    As a side, its not a surprise that the “Chief Executive Bear” at Build-A-Bear is a former retail fashion guru from Mays (LS Ayres) and Payless Shoes. She is known to highlight the importance of the experience provided by her store (over the product itself).

    Susan

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