Childhoods End - Game Over

illustration | design | consultancy

This is the 1st piece in a social comment series about the way today's politics is influenced, and the negative effects of it exacerbated, by our online/digital lifestyles. 

It's about our loss of innocence and self discovery, encouraged and enabled by the automation of modern digital computing. Every search engine or social media platform is built upon a series of self running algorithms influencing our every move without any human interaction required. Code is simply copied and pasted in, to glean information about us, which is then interpreted into something it thinks we desire and is then fed back to us as an advert, or access to some data the algorithm is programmed to disclose to us.
Google and similar systems were at one time mostly just descriptive, giving us the information we sought, but now they have become prescriptive too. Providing us with information we didn't ask for, but that it thinks we'll act upon, showing us how to find the thing it thinks we're looking for.. thus we are already being controlled by machines. Our fears of a future in which we're at the mercy of AI is already upon us, yet most don't realise it.

A result of this is a global political landscape in which falsehoods and misinformation feed our minds, manipulating us into a perspective that suits a political leaning or agenda, individuals are targeted but on a global scale. Automated algorithmic systems affecting us both emotionally, and strategically, warping our perceptions of reality.  
Surprisingly our governments are not really up to speed and in control of this, but, they have learned to manipulate the commercial focus of these systems to their advantage. The only way we can ever wrestle the truth back will be through the analogue processing of these digital computing systems.. digital computing is simply a series of ones and zeros, yes's and no's, so there is no room for error or interpretation, it's cold, calculated, unnatural. Analogue systems are all around us in nature, when something doesn't work, it adapts into something that does. Our future success depends on the development of analogue systems that can interpret the digital algorithms of today into something more malleable, more natural, more forgiving.
Childhoods End, the title of this series, is named after the Arthur C. Clarke novel from 1953, about mankind moving into the next natural state, one of telepathic communication and power. We, in this computing age, are at a similar threshold. We need to grow up as a people and understand what's happening, or face the dire consequences. 

My aim is to visualise this real world concept as an abstract, pre-apocalyptic, bleak, British landscape within a series of images. I want to emotionally show the political effect happening on the ground, here in the UK and around the World. I want to do that by featuring epically scaled, discarded, lost, abandoned toys, game characters and notable items of innocent fun, strewn across a gritty realistic British landscape. Symbolising both our need to grow up as a civilisation and our children's shortened childhoods, being swiftly moved along by their data feeds.. The toys are sometimes epic in scale to reflect the significance of the interpretation, but also because a child's perspective of a toy would be on a grand scale, in a child's eye it's not a toy, it's real, it's important, it's their whole world. 
Citizens with their heads encased in a screen faced bubble, following their prescribed destiny like sheep, their only outward display is that of simplified emoji symbols. 

Huge roaming eyes representing Google and Facebook and other social media and search engine giants float across the bleak landscape, seeing all, long tendrils touching and feeling their way through everything, little gets by them as they spy and manipulate. 
A few survivors, unaffected by these digital systems will become the heroes of this abstract dystopia, providing hope as they try to open mankind's eyes to the truth, a truth of analogue reality, not digital manipulation.

Entered into the #AOI #WorldIllustrationAwards 2019.

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