Diegetic prototypes from the design fiction graphic novel and webcomic

The grand purpose behind this blog is to chronicle the progress of my thesis and my graphic novel. Of course, the two are intimately related. The thesis objective is to participate and contribute to the discussion and practice of design fiction. Design is changing and that means that designers will have to change, like it or not. I believe that it is better to be conscious of this change and to participate in it rather than waking up one day and finding that you no longer recognize your profession. Design fiction asks us to imagine a plausible future—even just a possible one. Like, what happens when hardware disappears and the technology we use becomes internalized; or when messages become thoughts. What will be visual? What will be virtual? Environments? Software? Design fiction, through the creation of diegetic prototypes provides legibility for the ideas that surround this.


Linked to this, is the science fiction, crime thriller, graphic novel currently in progress. The story takes place in Hong Kong 2, in the year 2159 and is built and rendered to scale completely in CG. It’s also a web comic.


This particular post focuses on one of the more prominent prototypes in story: the embedded, two-way, luminous implants that appear on the fingertips of the Hong Kong populace. These “luminous implants” do everything from “dialing the phone” (called tapping), accessing the Lightstream (the evolved Internet of 2159), sending or receiving data feeds from active touch surfaces, and controlling body chemistry. They are used for security and identification as a “smart fingerprint”, they can be outfitted with a pheromone release system for attracting the opposite sex, and they even change color to match your mood or fashion. Exploiting the purpose behind diegetic prototypes (to suspend disbelief about change) the implants figure into several aspects of the story. If you are roving around the city you are likely to see the Luminous Systems advertisements that are floating around, and I have incorporated a scene inside the Luminous Systems store. I have designed it as a sort of Zen spa meets Apple Store. I see the implants as standard piece of bio-hardware that gets implanted under the skin at an early age, like 5 or 6 years. Digging into the idea a little deeper, I found the idea of tapping, to be a fascinating angle.

Learning to use your new luminous implants. Click to enlarge.
Learning to use your new luminous implants. Click to enlarge.

Since there is a direct connection to the brain, voice, sight hearing, taste and, of course, touch, learning the tap language,  is just a matter of infusing the program and watching your fingertips light up as it prompts you through the language. This immediately becomes “remembered” information. To give it a bit more reality, I designed this “user’s manual” for beginners. Ready to order?

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