Monday, May 19, 2014
Finding New Perspectives on Dystopia
"The green light of the oppressor's boot
Bend your neck to the chopping block..."
Just with that much, he told us to throw out titles for the poem. Naturally people came up with words like "Slavery," "Fascism," "Revolution," "Freedom," and plenty of other negatively-charged political words. Then the professor posed a question.
"What if the title was..."Romance?" Or "Unconditional Love?"
I remember a collective "ahhh" going up from the class. After which, the class clown smugly offered, "What if it was called, "Filibuster?" (Can you guess what was going on in the news that week?"
But the point is, it was a valuable lesson about how you can use outside information about a piece of art, whether a picture, story, character, or poem, to give it new meaning. The title, after all, is still outside of the text itself right?
So, I decided to apply that to a picture exercise today. The picture below seems beautiful and peaceful on the surface, but what if I told you it took place in a dystopian world.
Tell me what makes it dystopian? What aspects of the world can you draw out of the picture? How do these aspects affect the people, and why would it make a great story? (Draw from clothing, background images, etc. if necessary.)
Mother and Child by the Sea by Johan Christian Dahl (1840) Source
Where dystopia is becoming a saturated genre, perhaps the key to coming up with new things is to make dystopian worlds as much like our own as possible, changing only details that are so subtle, they can almost be missed. After all, the smallest details can make the biggest difference.
What did you come up with?