Design Fiction Web Comic – Page 20

Good morning (depending on what part of the globe your are in). Here is this week’s commentary on today’s new art for The Lightstream Chronicles web comic.

Academic set up

If you are a regular follower, you already know that the impetus behind this graphic novel is my MFA thesis, When designers ask, “What if?” My thesis defense, by the way, is this Wednesday, April 3rd. For those of you who may have heard the term design fiction (it gets tossed around quite a bit in the blogosphere) but are not sure what it is, I might direct you to a previous post that gives you some additional background. The anchor definition, which  now rolls off the tongue is sci-fi writer, futurist muser Bruce Sterling‘s (2012), “…the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change.” (If you want to know where the “diegetic” part comes from, then that is another post.) My thesis, for an MFA in Design Development, of course, focuses on what benefit this could possibly have for anyone, much less design and designers. So I have evolved my own interpretation for the context of my thesis. Thus:

Design fiction is about the future, about change, about visualizing the change possibilities, and making it all seem real enough to us that we want to talk about it, assess it, and ask ourselves if this is really the future we want — and if it’s not — what might we do about it, how might we change it and refine it.

Therefore, The Lightstream Chronicles is a story that portrays a speculative future heavily influenced by technological change and enhanced with visual prototypes with the ongoing objective to both entertain, fascinate and provoke thinking. Because of it’s obsessive detail, it also makes the journey and interactive one that invites the reader to zoom-in and explore each image. Granted, not your average web comic, but enough of that. About

Page 20

On page 19 we began a long dolly shot into the penthouse of one of Hong Kong 2’s many towering buildings. From the exterior markings you have surmised that this is the headquarters of AHC (Almost Human Corporation) and that this logo (for the more observant) was also emblazoned on the body suit of Sean Colbert on pages 17 and 18. So, if you guessed that we might be bringing the camera in through the window of Sean’s lab, you are correct. On page 20 we are now through the glass, so to speak, and down to the personal level.

Here, we see Dr. Colbert’s private exploratorium where he has engineered the wildly successful and profitable N-Class, D-Class and now, T-Class synthetics. The prodigious, eighteen-year-old Colbert was awarded his own lab earlier in the year as a perk for making AHC a small fortune over the past decade. You can read more about Colbert and the synthetics on the cast page. In this scene, Sean has turned from his work, a torso that is floating on a levitating work table (presumably his next creation) to communicate with a face on a floating virtual screen (a diegetic prototype). In the background there are super alloy skeletal structures, and a selection of synthetics in stasis containers. One of these creations, we have already met. This lab environment took about 10 days to construct and each of the scene/panels is at least a few hours, and sometimes a few days.

Though the identity of the character that Sean is conversing with is not yet revealed, it soon will be. Comments and questions are welcome.

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