We loved the concept of "art gallery showings" because they unify ways of presenting different mediums. Art galleries can contain sculptures, paintings and tapestries, with music playing as you walk around. You can walk through them with friends, exchanging commentary on the pieces of art you see as you move through it. As great as providing users with a way of displaying their art in a physical gallery might be, it's entirely unrealistic given the scattered geographical userbase that makes up online communities.
So how to do you give this* experience to the internet community?
What about a completely customizable Adobe Flash-based 3D virtual gallery that you can embed on your website and share with your friends? We loved the idea and decided to make it a small feature of the Aviary website.
Nest is a surprisingly simple structure. It starts as just a room with 4 walls. You can define the walls, ceiling and floor to contain specific textures (i.e. generated in Peacock).
You can layout your photos, paintings and tapestries on the walls, exactly where you want them to be located. You can even define some specific elements, such as the size and rotation of the painting!
3D objects can of course be imported. In this example room we chose to include 3D models of furniture. These also act as "obstacles" in the floor. So you can actually bump into them and your avatar knows to walk around them to get to their destination.
Watch a video of a character navigating it's way around furniture.
Because an important part of the art gallery experience is being able to walk through one with your friends, we built int the ability to allow multiple people to walk through the same gallery simultaneously and to chat with each other.
Further to that concept, we also built a central hub that connects all rooms to hallways, and all hallways to an elevator. You can visit your friends rooms (and other rooms) in this virtual building that grows as new people create their own floors!
The coolest feature is that this will be embeddable, so you can take your virtual showcase with you to your own sites and blogs!
To sign up for an early beta account, please use the early bird invitations link on the right (any choice is fine).
* Thanks to Flickr / CheGuevara-Paul for the image!
UPDATE As an unrelated bonus, here's a great image created completely within our image editor Phoenix by Brent.