Living close to the nature is a privilege in many parts of the world. It is more so as cities become increasingly densely populated and expand. I grew up in a very human-constructed environment of South Koreaâ€™s former industrial hub, Busan, South Korea. Naturally, facing or getting too intimate with the real nature has always been a special, rare occasion to me. On the other hand I am very much familiar with the idea of miniaturized, sanitized, fake nature in the industrialized, completely made-up environment, simulating and sampling the idea of nature rather than providing the real experience of it [think a fake snow field in a department store window decoration rather than the deceivingly real artificial beach in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan]. In doing so, we often mimic parts of the nature that takes minimal effort to maintain and is pleasing to our senses without unpleasant consequences.
In Seoulâ€™s smaller city airport, Gimpo, thereâ€™s a airy lounge area that looks like a garden. Perhaps it is the obvious contradiction that makes it more charming, or acceptable, depending on where you are coming from. As a city child I didnâ€™t even notice the ubiquity of mimicked nature until I came back to Korea after living in other countries. They are sometimes cute, but more often than not, can be repulsive, cheap, and horrifying. Like most animal cages in the zoo are simply sad to look at.
As depicted by numerous well-known science fictions, we will soon see the day when it is no longer interior decoratorâ€™s musings to create the artificial parts of the nature, as they may be required for the purpose of making people familiarized with the concept.
As a side story â€“ in a Japanese manga series called â€˜Five Star Storiesâ€™, the humanoid girls â€˜Fatimaâ€™ who are specifically created for controlling the war robots are described. Their skin can only accommodate clothes made of real cotton, which in itself is an extreme luxury at the time. I was reminded of the story when I was shopping in India looking for a traditional cotton lungi in a local neighborhood: I tried almost 10 shops, and none of them had a single lungi made of pure cotton as it was too expensive.