Monday, October 31, 2016

It's Been A Sweet Alien Ride

Alien cultures, civilization, and what they would do to us if they ever invaded has dominated the world of science fiction. Films like The Day The Earth Stood Still, Mars Attacks, Independance Day, and even children’s films like Chicken Little all tell stories of what that scenario might look like. So we, Matthew Taggart and Grant Gomm, asked the question, “what would the world look like today if in 1947, aliens really did land in Roswell, New Mexico?” Our world building was off to a start.

The goal? Design items that reflected this alternate version of our world. In Julian Bleecker’s article, Design Fiction, in talking about the design of an object, Bleecker says, “They are things around which discussions happen, even with only one other person, and that helps us to imagine other kinds of worlds and experiences.” That is our goal with this project - to generate conversations about our works in this fictitious world. We chose to express this through images that in our own actual history tend to generate conversations, such as famous photos, billboards, and maps.

When we began discussing what this world would look like, ideas flowed one after another. We asked questions like, “would the aliens be friendly or aggressive?” and, “what would the governments look like if a superior alien race invaded our world? Would mankind stop fighting amongst ourselves and unite against a common enemy?” We both lept feet first down this rabbit hole and came up with an interesting alternate storyline for this world.

We imagined that further contact with aliens continued to happen, and that the original aliens who crashed near Roswell were in fact refugees from attacking superior aliens. Our planet took them in, but eventually the earth was attacked. Governments broke down as we know them, and for the most part united together against the aggressive aliens. The world divided up into varying federations united against the invaders. However, we also imagined that there would be those who would side with the malevolent aliens in an attempt to gain power from them.

As we continued developing our world, and our story was unfolding, we took a step similar to what Bleecker describes further in his article, “Might it be a kind of half-way between fact and fiction?” It seemed our world certainly was becoming this way. We grappled with the current presidential election, and thought what if our candidates today were not running for president of the United States of America, but had different political aspirations in our world?  What if Hillary Clinton was the human liaison with the aliens? What if Donald Trump was a man trying to usurp power among the federations? What if he was really planted there by the aliens as a strategy to overtake the world? In a strange way it felt that even in a fantastic world like the one we created, there would still be some striking parallels with the real world.

Our ideas grew, and before we knew it, our world was fleshing itself out. But what of the objects we were to create? We made several images using Adobe Photoshop and hand drawing, depicting various parts of our story. Each image has it’s own intrinsic message. It is our hope that discussion will happen around our images as Julian Bleecker has suggested should happen.

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