Painting Spaces with Emotional Context

Auki Labs
3 min readJul 16

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If I showed you a picture of a space decorated with lush plants, like green clouds suspended on bark-clad trunks reaching into humid soil, you might have a specific emotional response. Perhaps you imagine this space feels quite relaxing, welcoming, and soothing.

Before, and after.

Perhaps you, like me, remind yourself that you should get another plant for your workspace — but pay attention to how your idea of what the image represents changes when I tell you that all plants above are plastic.

No really. Look at the picture again.

Nothing about the pixels, the luminosity, contrast, or saturation has changed, but it’s not the same picture. It’s not the same space.

It’s as if, though, we have an unnamed sense that feels the “vibe” of a room, something, a spatial awareness. This spatial awareness is deeply rooted in language because language helps us paint the world with more than just descriptions, it helps us create context or a layer of reality. You could even argue that language is the original augmented reality technology.

This substrate layer of emotional context colors our perception and paints our spaces in dimensions not captured by the bits and bytes of the actual photograph.

Nurturing is a human desire

Could you care for this cutie?

Why do we buy plants?

If it were purely a visual aesthetic consideration, we wouldn’t care if they were plastic. That the plant is alive, perhaps that it can die, is a big reason why we want plants. It is reassuring, in a profound, visceral, evolutionary way, to see living things thrive in your space.

It is gratifying and rewarding, in a profound and naturally intuitive way, to help things grow.

Perhaps this, too, is a deep embodied memory of our ancestors harnessing the power of agriculture to ease the burdens of living. I submit that nurturing things is an essential and foundational human desire and instinct, as necessary and natural as our desire to eat, mate, and shelter from the weather.

What if we could all play with digital puppies together?

It is ultimately the same impulse to nurture a plant that makes us buy a puppy. We want to love. That the puppy can love us back is just a bonus.

Our deep desire to love and how gratifying even a one-sided interaction can be is readily observed in the rising trend of parasocial relationships.

Humans want to love and nurture. It’s part of what makes us human. Transhumanism teaches us that embracing a merge with the machine will extend our physical capabilities. Building better machines is ultimately about building better humans, the physical transhumanist observes.

As a cultural transhumanist, I believe that we must take care to engineer our memes, our culture, and our consciousness to enable us to transcend our biological starting conditions.

Migrating to the Metaverse

The metaverse is not a thousand virtual words. It’s a digital l ayer on to of the material world we already know.

If the metaverse only becomes an avenue for expressing individuality and consumption, then we are missing the opportunity for a much more meaningful revolution.

We clearly live at the dawn of a truly transformative era, where humanity is transitioning, dipping its toes into the alluring waters of virtual spaces and experiences. Countless avatars, digital fashion, virtual accessories, tokenized versions of this, that, and the other are being promised to lure us deeper into these designer realities.

As we migrate to new digital realities we craft for ourselves, we are not only inhabiting bespoke environments but also experiencing bespoke consciousness. How mindful of your psychological well-being are the architects and creators of your next digital space?

If the metaverse only becomes an avenue for expressing individuality and consumption, we are missing the opportunity for a much more meaningful revolution. Why not make spaces that connect us, things to care for and nurture, and ways to bring us into the present?

At Auki Labs, we choose to use these powerful new technologies to build an outlet for our human impulse to love and play together. To embody the world we already inhabit, and enrich it with matterless domains full of wonder.

My question to you is: if you had the ability to paint spaces with companionship, community, and connectedness, how would you do it?

— Nils Pihl, CEO, Auki Labs

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Auki Labs

Building the posemesh, a decentralized spatial computing protocol for AR, the metaverse, and smart cities. The proprioceptive sense of machine intelligence.