The burden of being a society
Allis Ohlsson’s project in the module “Type and Illustration II” in the second semester during the first year of the Visual communication + Change program.
What is a collapsed society? The death of a culture, a species, a system? A finite ending, or a part of a circular motion. A natural occurrence before a new beginning? Can one measure a collapse? Is it possible to know when, or if, it has been reached – when are we on the verge of tipping over? Can we see it coming, can we stop it from happening? And if we can, should we?
For this project we were asked to explore the topic, and the relations between, human culture and time, and present it in the form of two posters that should work coherently – one illustrative and one centered around an essay that we were to write. After exploring different angles through sketches and research i settled on the topic of societal collapse for my project, a always relevant topic that we as humans tend to avoid facing until it is too late.
Through my posters I wanted to bring awareness to our unstable ways of building (western) societies, awaken thought about other options of societal structure and make people question whether collapse needs to be a part of our culture.
The red thread throughout my process has been the exploration of visually communicating chaos. I found a lot of inspiration for my illustration in the work of Jean Michel Basquiat. Both in the way he uses chaotic, “ugly” and contrasting motifs in his work to draw people in as well as his satiric approach to social commentary.
My final posters portrays our society as a human-like creature, trying to balance the burden – the endless output of mistakes and solutions – that is included in upholding a society of today, to show the fragility of this system. I wanted to have an attractive and contrasting motif, aiming to find balance where it was both aesthetically pleasing – yet upsetting for the mind, using this slightly grotesque and disproportionate creature.
The text in the poster is written in a way so that it is almost impossible to pick up more than a sentence at a time. Illustrating a chaos of thought, a collective mind. Barbed wire encapsulating it all, showing how we are trapped in our ways of being.
Can we foresee our actions, can we control them? Will we be the end of us? Methodically, but unknowingly, creating the destruction of humanity. Are we so dependent on complex systems that we no longer know how to safely and deliberately step away from them? Is it possible to change such ingrained patterns as the ones we are stuck in?