Some weeks ago we pondered over the oddity of a space race in cyberspace. Rockets and jet-packs –so cool in the previous century– don't make sense in a virtual environment. The advent of VR-technology introduces new perceptual spaces where the laws of physics aren't given, but have to be programmed. Although the space race is over, researchers in well funded institutions all over the world are still trying to invent techniques to transport people at the speed of light: It's called telepresence.

According to John Thackara we are currently caught up in a fake-space race. "Telecommunications companies have invested heavily for years in telepresence systems with the aim of reproducing as closely as possible the sensation of "being there." Thackara claims that "it's an insult that telecoms should expect us to meet in hideous sterile rooms in front of huge screens." Yet "sustainability demands that we compromise".

Thackara argues for a more artful telepresence: "There are more interesting tasks for design than the use of brute bandwidth to achieve 'being there' verisimilitude. The communication quality of cyberspace can be enhanced by artful and indirect means."

"Evolutionary psychologists believe that magical ways of thinking may be hardwired into us, and cite as evidence the human capacity to invest inanimate objects with meaning...souvenirs, heirlooms, childhood toys, objets d'art, dolls, totems, talismans, and charms. This ties back to the idea of the uncanny valley. Humans are actually quite generous when ascribing emotional and even spiritual attributes to inanimate objects—but we’re also very sensitive to being deceived. Current attempts at verisimilitude seem to underestimate our imaginative capacity, while tripping our deceit sensors."

"It's a matter of timing. The world needs artful telepresence more urgently than ever before. Can we please get on with it?"

Source: The fake-space race: Design and the future of travel.

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  • Nonono, I didn't meant that on the perspective of advertisement. Rather how beauty is used by companies (Take a good look at Public Relations Guy/Gal of a Company) in order to ease up the communications with their clients, and how the use of VR (I'm thinking on the sense of Second Life, wherein you create your avatar that may, may not be the reflection of yourself) may facilitate and improve their communications with their partners, business associates and clients. - On another note, I love toothpaste ads! They are so hilarious. Sexy and beautiful Scientists in their White Lab Coats, inside a Glass building, full of futuristic equipment, and a smiling gorgeous brunette woman, showing her blinking perfect white teeth, and her hair flowing, like dancing to a sweet summer breeze, such is the action of the toothpaste advertised!! How could you ask for more? Ahah!

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  • Of course if they would put a VR-potato in the picture it wouldn't be advertising. I got that. - Take for instance toothpaste advertising –showing a smiling person that promises you will someday have white teeth as well– which isn't true, but at least the toothpaste will not give you black teeth. WIth VR systems I am not so sure.

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  • "Isn’t it strange that the publicity images of VR-systems" - Nope. They are actually advertising what their product could make for them. Why do you think companies usually hire good-looking people with an high cultural level for their interaction with their clients. It's easier to hear beautiful people talking about boring subjects than uninteresting ones.

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  • Isn't it strange that the publicity images of VR-systems so very often feature tiny & slim women with beautifully shaped bodies? I mean, if you work in such an environment constantly you would soon look like a potato.

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  • You should throw in a screencap from Lawnmower man.

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