For over forty years I have been working as an experimental artist and designer. In all of that time I have become very aware of how important aesthetics are in dictating the amount of the earths resources that are consumed by the human population. Most things, including building, have to look a certain way in order for people to feel good about using them, and most often a lot of resources are consumed just to make these things look a certain way. Much of the stuff we use could be made with much fewer of the earths resources if they did not have to maintain a specific aesthetic, directed toward a specific consumer. As an example buildings, especially houses, in most cases would function very well as places in which we are sheltered from the elements and our basic functional needs are supported without the requirement to maintain a specific aesthetic image. In fact, if we were all blind, it would not matter what our houses looked like as long as they kept us physically comfortable.
If aesthetics were not an issue we could build and maintain our buildings much more efficiently and with much fewer of our precious resources. For example, we might build our houses with the most environmentally appropriate materials on the planet. We might also construct these houses into the most efficient shapes, like domes or spheres outfitted with the most efficient alternative energy gathering and storage systems, all without any concern for what the house looks like. Of course this will not happen because most of us want our houses to look a certain way and usually the look of the house ends up consuming most of the materials to build it, and most of the energy to supply its occupants needs.
The aesthetics of a house are created by the manipulation of materials, which in turn manipulate the light that is seen by our eyes. Since there are much more efficient ways to manipulate light then by the manipulation of large amounts of physical material, I suggest that we explore ways in which the direct digital manipulation of light can be used to supplement and or replace the need for depleting the earths resources, in order to establish and maintain a specific physical material based aesthetic.
In response to this challenge I have been developing what I call, the Virtual Reality Veneer (VRV). Through the VRV system, the aesthetics of the exterior and interior of a basic white sphere are selected by the owner, generated by a computer, and interpreted as real by all of those equipped with the appropriate digital image receiving and displaying hardware. The prototype for the VRV project will include the construction of a large white spherical shaped house made from the most environmentally friendly materials possible. This structure will be outfitted with the most efficient alternative energy gathering and storage systems available. A computer located inside of the sphere will form the aesthetics of the house. This computer will be able to create any kind of an image selected by the owner of the house and broadcast that image out into the surrounding landscape. Special eyeglasses worn by anyone in the vicinity of the sphere interpret the broadcast image and project it onto the inside surface of the glasses. Anyone wearing these glasses (or eventually specially designed retina implants) will see the selected image projected on the glasses instead of the sphere only when they look in the direction of the sphere. If anyone wearing the special glasses physically enters the sphere, other images generated by the computer and selected by the owner of the sphere, are sent to the glasses in order to supplement and or replace the look of the interior of the sphere.
Of course the VRV system could also be used to generate the aesthetics for many other things, our clothes, products, even other people.