Archive for the ‘Description/Scenario’ Category

Design Brief Revision

July 19, 2010

“The language of post-apocalypse demands a “saying the unsayable,” providing an account of an unimaginable aftermath. And yet,
these aftermaths, however unimaginable, have actually happened, and languages for them exist ”

(Berger, J. 1999. After the end: representations of post-apocalypse. U of Minnesota Press.)


Catastrophic viral outbreaks and plagues have been known to have an enormous impact on human societies. How would
a future world inhabited by survivors with amplified or newly aroused mental disorders function? Such survivors may
evaluate established symbols and cultural movements to assist them in creating a new identity and visual language.


To use illustration as a means of designing ficticious cultures for the purpose of raising awareness towards the symptoms
of two mental disorders.

Research Questions

How can I use traditional and digital illustration techniques to design the visual language of two cultures that
express their mental disorders through related historic cultural movements?
What cultural motifs are key to symbolizing the defining mental disorder of each culture?


The design output will include:
Two resolved character portraits and one environment design for each colony.
Solutions that are the result of numerous experiments involving traditional and digital mediums.
The consideration of formal aesthetic design principles used to recontextualize iconic cultural elements.
A single image that illustrates a possible confrontation between the two developed cultures.
A book documenting the aforementioned processes. This shall be designed to act as a ‘pitch’ device for
further development of 2092: Post Sanity.
Narrated videos of the design process created to inform and attract an exhibition audience.


Preface/Design Brief

June 29, 2010

By way of a catastrophic viral outbreak, how would a world inhabited by survivors with amplified or newly aroused mental disorders function? Colonists may search for new symbols and cultural movements to best reflect their mental abnormalities.

This proposition shall be the central inspiration behind the development and design of 2092: Post-Sanity. Focusing on the visual growth of two colonies within this fictitious world, three characters and one environment shall be created for each. The characters will occupy one of three roles relevant to their society’s function: a powerful politician, a lower classman and a scout familiar with environmental hardships. Vaguely describing the aforementioned positions will allow me to explore multiple aesthetic and storytelling options when considering their cultural and disorderly alignment. By synthesizing newly discovered elements together, I will account for the psychological and historical emblematic quality influencing the components being constructed. Environments depicting a colony’s civilization shall be conscious of this influence by embodying the afflicted mental disorder and chosen cultural movement. As such, the aim of each work will be to realize an idea. The quantity of art outputted reflects the desired level of believability to be achieved for each piece within the timeframe of one semester.
Once the design of two habitats and its inhabitants are completed, these pieces shall be organized into an illustrative composition. This image will portray a conflict between the two fickle-minded colonies. With the emphasis of this project being on discovering an original design solution, assignment descriptions shall be kept minimal in an attempt to discover the defining aspects throughout the design process.


June 24, 2010

Below is my first draft outline of the imagined world and the two colonies the brief story will follow. If anyone reads it, feedback or ideas would be awesome.

2092. A bewildered world struggles to cope beyond a devastating viral outbreak. Quickly amassing sufferers over a two year period, the virus provokes even the most genetically dormant mental disorder within an individual. Functioning civilizations are left crippled with their inhabitants either abandoning their posts or being too sickened to reach them. Ceasing the continuation of society’s expected dependancies leads to any remaining survivors banding together through the recognition of a mutual trait: their afflicted mental disorder. Separated into various colonies, survivors are now tasked with constructing an identity that represents their own inner torment. Desperate to reinvigorate familiarity, the divided colonies search deep into history to associate with a proven cultural movement. Of the emerging settlements, two define themselves as the Delusional Expressionists and the Maniacal Romantics. Their conflicts will confirm the whispered title of this chaotic era: Post Sanity.

The Maniacal Romantics are a colony whose members identify with the mental disorder Seasonal Effective Disorder (SAD); a specific type of bipolar disorder. SAD’s distinctive feature is that the mood disorder has a seasonal component. Most typically, SAD symptoms start in the late fall and worsen in the winter. Recognizing their inability to function indefinitely at ‘normal’ mental health levels, the Maniacal Romantics form a bond with Romanticism, a historic cultural movement that was prominent between 1750 and 1850. Originally, this movement was a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature embodied through the social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment (Casey, 2008). Such a union was bought about through the common influence nature had on literature and art during the Romantic period and the weather dependent moods endured by those with SAD.
The colony functions within a class hierarchy. Upper class citizens have access to a limited supply of Wellburtin, a drug designed to prevent recurrences of SAD. A side effect of the treatment is a loss of appetite, leading to a clear physical distinction from the lower class. The Maniacal Romantics civilization resides on a cliff, overseeing the ocean. This location was purposefully chosen so that residents could fish for a wealth of sea life, an optimal source of Omega-3 that helps treat depression. Not considered however, was the exposure to low barometric pressure from the ocean, which can cause sporadic acts of psychiatric violence. The central architectural feature of the settlement is a large tunnel that aims skyward. The purpose of the device is to expose the community to “intensely bright lights. This is called light therapy” (Elliot, 2007, p. 13).

The Delusional Expressionists are post apocalyptic survivors who have adopted the ideals of Expressionism to justify their self-perceived delusions. Diagnosing delusional disorder requires that the sufferer holds false beliefs with supernatural conviction and  profound illusory certainty. By way of viral infection, the particular disorder provoked inside the members of this colony is delusional atmosphere: a phenomenon were the person senses the world to be subtly changed in a significant way. ‘This may be allied with delusional awareness in which there is a heightened appreciation of atmosphere’ (Munro, 1999, p. 30). There is a feeling of anticipation often associated with perplexity and apprehension that has lead these victims to the early twentieth-century cultural movement Expressionism. Expressionists ‘endeavored to go beyond a mere perception of reality and aimed at a psychological rendering of the impressions they received’ (Elger, 2002, p. 9).
Shortly after the virus suffocated humanity, those stricken with delusional disorder were in a brief state of ecstasy. Amongst the chaos and destruction every object surrounding the delusional appeared ‘fascinating. Alteration in colour or sensory quality preceded the other disturbances in visual perception’ (Moskowitz, 2008). Unable to associate with survivors who did not share the same sensations, the delusional banded together and began the construction of their own settlement. Celebrating the newly found significance of even the most obscure shapes influenced the features of the Delusional Expressionists home. Two years after the completion of their city however, the early reactions of obsessive bliss is replaced with ‘intense anxiety’ (Moskowitz, 2008). This occurrence was the result of memories being created during the apocalypse. ‘When memories are formed under intense stress, a critical component of normal memory formation – the hippocampus – is disabled, and memories without spaciotemporal content are created’ (Moskowitz, 2008). The disembodied nature of a ‘highly charged emotional event’ will in turn lead ‘to stronger than usual’ (Moskowitz, 2008) memories. The Delusional Expressionists are now emotively contextualized within the the horrific events of two years prior; 2090. No longer can they observe their creation in awe. Crazed by their lack of ability to ‘perceive objects as meaningful wholes’ (Moskowitz, 2008), the Delusional Expressionists abandon their home.


Casey, C. (2008). “Grecian Grandeurs and the Rude Wasting of Old Time”: Britain, the Elgin Marbles, and Post-Revolutionary Hellenism.” Foundations. Volume III, Number 1. Retrieved 2009-06-25.

Elger, D. (2002). Expressionism. Taschen.

Elliott, C. (2007). Seasonal Affective Disorder for Dummies. For Dummies.

Moskowitz, A. (2008). Psychosis, Trauma and Dissociation: Emerging Perspectives on Severe Psychopathology. John Wiley and Sons.