Open Skies as Healing Technology

We believe that by delivering the full beauty of the sky,
we can deliver a fundamental truth—the inner truth of nature

Bill Witherspoon looking out over Oregon desert canyon

Neuroaesthetics: Our Design Framework

Bill Looking at Sky

We think of our work as technology—an artistic technology—whose purpose is to introduce the power and purity of nature into our living and working environments. We do this in an architecturally appropriate way that profoundly impacts human physiology and psychology.
John Keats, in his Ode on a Grecian Urn, concludes by telling us,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”

At Sky Factory, it is our belief that by delivering the deep beauty of the sky, we can deliver a fundamental truth—the inner truth of nature—and nature, we believe, is not limited to the world around us, but includes the very essence of who we are. Our goal then, is to deliver an experience of our innermost nature or self.

The Sky as Universal Experience

Why are we focused on the beauty of the sky? The sky is humanity’s most universal experience of nature and, because of its scale and spatial nature, it automatically brings our awareness to vastness, the most abstract and fundamental cognitive experience underlying both inner and outer nature.

No matter who we are or where we live, we all see and love the sky. Everyone, in every culture, has experienced lying on their back looking up into clouds floating across a blue canopy. Even our bodies are attuned to the blue of the sky. It is no accident that our eyes and mind register the coolness of blue as distant space. (This is a fundamental principle behind Impressionism and bright red stoplights.) It should be no surprise that “blue sky” is the symbol for freedom and infinite possibilities.

Furthermore, the vast stillness of the sky is conditioned by ever changing patterns of clouds. These patterns are actually exquisite visual expressions of physical laws of nature that govern fluid dynamics. (We can see the same patterns repeated in the sand at the seashore, the bottom of streams or even in the large-scale erosion patterns on Earth and many of the outer planets and moons.) In short, the sky is not only beautiful, but it is also a place where the workings of nature are easily accessible by all.

Given a focus on the experience of truth, how do we attempt to create a beauty that is Truthful? To begin with, all Sky Factory products are illusions. We go to great lengths and use every possible tool to create hyper-real illusions, illusions that have the power to elicit our desired outcome an experience of the reality and depth of nature.

One of our favorite compliments came from a child who, while looking at a SkyCeiling, asked her dentist: What do you do when it rains?

Our Artistic Framework: Open Skies Image Technology

To accomplish truthfulness, we start by respecting gravity and verticality. While we love mountains and the seashore, they do not appear above our heads, so we don’t put such things on the ceiling!

We control the perspective of our images so that the sky we place on the ceiling is accurate and properly scaled for the observers’ position and architectural frame of reference (as if we had cut a hole for the observer to look through). We use medium format digital photography and Digital Cinema cameras to ensure that our images contain as much real-world information as possible. In our Digital Cinema footage we use only real, unedited time.

We work with 6500K lighting or circadian systems that are designed to create luminous, time-based, daylight equivalents. We carefully control color, hue, and contrast, and in that way express humidity, altitude, season, and the time of the day.

One of our most important tools is composition—we emulate the organizing principles used by the great masters to ensure that a work of art is self-contained, continually moving, and attractive. We carefully select dynamic compositions and place them in the ceiling so that the observer’s eye and mind respond by moving, and in that movement, experience the full journey, the full truth of the image. This movement of eye and mind is on the surface—from one element to the next—but there is also always a movement inward, into the depths of the image and its self-referral content of vastness.

Transcendental Experience — Beauty is Truth

It is in the “depth” of the image that we experience the ultimate “truth”—the experience of vastness and silence. Hence, it is our wish to lead the attention of viewers from trees and clouds to the formless infinite freedom of a deep blue sky. From this progressive movement, we expect them to emerge refreshed and reawakened.

In viewing SkyCeilings and SkyView, it is this exposure to nature’s mechanics, her deepest truth, and the resulting resonance of that truth with our own individual nature that restores our psychology, our physiology, and our innermost self.

Does this work? If Keats is right, and if we do our job, we expect a powerful “yes!”

But the real question is: Does it work for you?

We certainly hope so.