Dystopian is defined as: of, relating to, or being an imagined world or society in which people lead dehumanized, fearful lives. If this is the true definition of dystopia, then I’d argue that humans have lived a dystopian lifestyle since homo sapiens first stepped foot on planet earth. This dystopia continues into our present day. Although we often fool ourselves into thinking we are living in a wonderful, modern world, there is much of that world that lives in dehumanizing conditions. And, if our current political climate continues unabated, the developed world might find itself in the throes of dystopian authoritarianism.
Although this is a rather bleak view of what might transpire over the next few decades, it hasn’t stopped artists from imagining what a dystopian world would look like. Movies such as Blade Runner, Children of Men, Hunger Games, and Mad Max: Fury Road are just a few of Hollywood’s take on the genre. Novelists have also lent their talents to the fictionalized worlds of dystopia, which includes 1984 by George Orwell, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, among many others. And just a quick search for dystopian art on Google brings up thousands of works showing worlds of utter horror.
I’m not actually sure why, but lately I have become fixated on this idea of dystopia and what that might mean for my artistic practice. As a result, I’ve started creating artworks that fall into that dystopian box. The first of these artwork series, The Spirit Travelers of the Southwest, is shown here – works that bring to mind fifteenth/sixteenth century artist Hieronymus Bosch and his works of hell on earth.
Although my artworks, by design, don’t go nearly as far a Bosch’s works, they do have, at their heart, the deformities of the flesh. While most AI artists working with the human form strive to make these human figures as perfect as possible, I have gone in a totally different direction, I’ve embraced the deformities that occur in these works. I don’t try to hide them or fix them. I’m not sure who these artworks will appeal to, but I find them fascinating. I plan on creating more artworks that embrace the culture of dystopia. Hang on for an interesting ride.
The world that humanity knew for thousands of years no longer exists. Starting in 2001, the idea of permanent war began to grip the world in its claws of death. This idea ran unabated until the year 2146 when the final war of the world forced humanity back to the brink of hunter-gatherers. Yes, there were pockets of the modern world still lurking on the edges, but for the most part the world could no longer be called modern. Even a term like post-modern doesn’t seem apropos for the humans who are grinding out their meager existence. So, across the globe humans formed bonds with other humans and these small groups became the new normal for human society. Some settled in what seemed like safe environments and tried their best to eke out a decent existence, while others decided to live a more nomadic lifestyle.
One such group of nomadic humans is known as the Spirit Travelers of the Southwest. These small bands of humans can be found wandering the landscape of what used to be Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, in search of food, shelter, and the connection that comes from people who are linked together by their common suffering. On occasion, these groups gather in large numbers, commiserate with each other for a few days, and then move on to continue their never-ending search for some holy grail that will help them discover a way out of their ongoing misery.
But there is no holy grail, at least not on this planet earth. So, these small bands have had to develop a fierce attitude toward those they consider outsiders. As they learned too often, the outsiders have no interest in playing nice. Even though these bands of travelers are mostly peace loving, they can turn in a second and become like a rattlesnake who’s been disturbed from his hiding place.
The first four artworks currently shown here are of average people who belong to The Spirit Travelers of the Southwest. Each artwork has its own short story to tell.
Margarita – Hoping for Absolution
Nicholas – Longing for a Solution
Henry – Where is My Mother
Isabella – Has a Few Secrets