In the beginning I was searching about different types of dystopian thoughts in art as shown in the notes that I kept in my sketchbook above.
There are quite a few sub-genres of dystopian thought. Any and all sub-genres follow the same characteristics and meanings. Some of these sub-genres are:
- Apocalyptic – end of the world.
- Over-population (ex:Children of Men)
- Historical (What if? )
- Technological / Mechanical / Cyber punk
To sum up and in general: Futuristic repression of society by a controlled environment.
Dystopian landscapes and situations aren’t something new, in fact it goes way back in time in art and literature.
An example to that is the “Book of Revelation” by St. John of Patmos:
“And I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair; and the whole moon became as blood, and the stars of the heaven fell unto the earth, as a fig tree casteth her unripe figs when she is shaken of a great wind. And the heaven was removed as a scroll when it is rolled up and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”
Regardless of the religious subject and one’s affiliations, one can simply look on this scripture or writing as an early example of dystopia; here forthcoming a time of dark future.
Some characteristics of dystopian art are:
- Images of man as insignificant
- Unnatural and/or surreal
- Nature is either destroyed or nonexistent
Another example to a dystopian situation is the “Illusions” (1948) by Irving Norman, who is for me an important but ignored artist of the 20th century. “Illusions” show the human predicament with a social surrealism approach.
So other characteristics of dystopia are:
- Oppressed society
- Lack of free thought
- Relationships luck of intimacy
- Humanity is limited
A great example of a recent approach to dystopia is the anime called “Ergo Proxy” (2006).
The series is heavily influenced by philosophy and Gnosticism and it is a story of humanity rediscovered and expressed as dystopia with post-apocalyptic allegories and surreal post-modernism. Much of what makes Ergo Proxy special is how it begins in one relatively familiar place and ends up very, very far away from it while somehow retaining cohesion. It is the embodiment of Richard Brautigan’s poem “All watched over by machines of loving grace” (1967); a high standard of living is available to all, including androids (AutoReivs here) and machines, the only cost to that is that you can never go against the technocrats at the control and/or ask questions. A bleak and blasted landscape where life does exist based on the context that we are all god to someone, someplace and we don’t even realize it.
Another example that inspired me deeply is an allegorical, stop-motion film called “Planète Sauvage” or “Fantastic Planet” (1973). In Fantastic planet, somewhere in the future, some gigantic blue humanoids (Draags) have brought human beings from Earth to their planet where Draags keep human beings as their pets; other live in the wilderness and are killed by Draags in order to control their populations.
I’ve tried to recreate the weird nature of the film as an experimentation on different forms of dystopian nature , and the Draags as well.