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Mikael Staer (M, 33)
Copenhagen, DK
Immortal since May 27, 2009
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Mikael Staer
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    From eyeclipse
    TED talks: Design and the...
    From superconcepts
    Galactic Immortality
    From Wildcat
    Will enhancement destroy...
    From First Dark
    ▣ Technology, Machines,...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    From staer's personal cargo

    Master's Project: Transhumanism
    Down to the final weeks of my Master's project at the Danish Design School...

    I decided to do a project about Transhumanism, which touches all of our lives and will only come to be a larger part of our lives in the near future. Other than SpaceCollective, there are not really any designers working with the subject, which means that it continues to live in it's own bubble, primarily on the internet. Singularity University has a long list of available study programs at the school; the application form asks applicants to select, from a list, which industry they are coming from/where their expertise lies - surprisingly, design is not on the list.

    Designers are good at living in the now, at communicating what is happening now, what will happen in the future and are (as a graphic designer) hired to essentially transmit and send ideas out into the world. Transhumanism is currently led by a large group of specialists who are perhaps weaker at communicating what they are working on (read "nerds"). There are few people who are deciding what humanity will become, but that is a debate, discussion, vote we should all be a part of, yet nobody knows anything about it.

    My project is a collection of some of the most interesting and exciting articles, discussions and debates about Transhumanism, many of them coming from SpaceCollective. A series of three illustrations support the texts, using imagery that is eye catching and stimulating, as well as thought provoking. The idea is that the final work (large format poster or magazine), a mix of typography and picture, becomes a work of art on its own, which is beautiful enough to hang on one's wall, but that will hopefully encourage conversation because of the dynamic subject matter - a conversation piece. By sparking conversation in the living room, Transhumanism comes out to the public domain much easier and allows people to become a part of the discussion. The target audience is first (graphic) designers, as I feel more designers need to be a part of the movement.

    The process has been incredibly difficult creatively - it just hasn't flowed like other projects have. I have created two illustrations (the style/method ended up as photo-manipulation) and am fighting through this block to get third one done so I can move on to the typographic/layout/final production phase.

    The first illustration depicts Transhumanism as a whole, showing humanity's movement and transition towards a new future. If it were a book, this image would be on the cover. It is meant to capture the excitement, wonder, energy, dynamism, confusion and dualism of Transhumanism.



    The second illustrates the "what if" question - what if it goes too far? Do we know what we are doing? What if it goes wrong? It shows the mutant we could become.



    There is an interesting dualism in the two, noted by a fellow student, who said that while the mutant is a "monster", it is also incredibly beautiful and warm, whereas the "transhuman" is colder and more fragmented yet at the same time recognizable as a normal human. This is something I wanted to capture: the shifts in perspective Transhumanism requires of both advocates and opponents. Reading the discussions here on Space Collective and reading the articles written by scientists and philosophers, ones opinions change constantly: one minute you are totally against the idea, the other you have turned 180 degrees and back again.

    For the third image, I want to illustrate the notion that we are playing God. I'm having difficulty finding a good way to depict this, without it becoming cheesy and without it breaking too far from the tone and style of the first two. I thought originally of laying bodies on a grid and shifting the pieces around, but it quickly became too flat and noisy. I am working with another idea now, that incorporates a large hand playing with a human body (that is deconstructed/in construction similar to the other two) but I feel that it is slightly obvious (boring?).


    EDIT

    Working away on the final image, I came up with the touchscreen motif as a metaphor for playing God. This allows me to inject some technological imagery into the series (something the other two are lacking) yet keep it line with the set tone and style. There is an interesting twist I just realized, and that is that this image also illustrates my process working with the project, picking and choosing, shifting, moving, and assembling body parts.


    work in progress

    Fri, May 14, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: illustration, design, graphic, school, project
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