The state of virtual and augmented reality technology has reached the threshold of a time in which VR meetings will be the norm. Apart from other applications, this may soon allow consumers to stroll through virtual aisles rather than clicking boxes on a screen, picking up products and viewing them from every angle. Still, designers recognize that an essence of the human experience is lost without the sense of touch. There may even be a future in which we wear clothes with haptic feedback systems embedded in them, to feel the pages of a virtual book beneath our fingers.
Yet our slow transition from the physical to the virtual world leaves out intangibles. Something is lost from both. Big box stores still devote significant floor space to books and records, for example. But I submit that a glossiness prevails in print design, perhaps a consequence of competing with screens. There’s a wabi-sabi quality to browsing a used bookstore or record shop in person, thumbing through an old collection of vintage paperbacks and LPs, that cannot be simulated or enhanced in any way. On the internet, however, where video is king, it can be made the subject of some hypnotic video art.
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