CIP: Beyond Limits Final Posters

The rough idea was to have a promotional poster for each concept; one for enhanced smell, sight and mobility. They were to be representative of the technology being out on the market, just after prototyping and trying to get the general public to overlook the unusual appearance of the technology in favour of the benefits it would provide.

First up was the enhanced scent detection technology. Dogs have been used by the police for many years to help in detecting illegal substances ranging from illicit drugs to bomb making materials. They also help track missing persons and convicts on the run, My premise was to take the dogs incredibly advanced nasal capabilities and have them available to law enforcement agencies in some sort of headwear, budget notwithstanding. This would make going through customs a nightmare for smugglers and stop and searches almost a formality. This of course, assumes the spectacular increase in scent detection can be interpreted correctly by the user. We are making that assumption.

If any one was going to be field testing these devices, it would seem logical to give them to customs agents. the government could justify the expense by putting under national security and playing the patriotism card (I certainly did in one of my posters). I chose to visualise the Drug Enforcement Agency  (DEA) in the US as the agency in question using the dog nose helmets since they tend to deploy officers in full tactical armour when the situation arises and the helmet seems more out of place when worn by British customs agents, who from what I can tell, tend to just wear office attire.

The design of the headwear closely resembles a dog nose to represent the technology still being in it’s infancy and scientist haven’t yet found a way to make it work without directly copying the infrastructure of an actual dog’s nasal system.

While conceiving how the nose would fit on the user’s face I did a little collage mock up. The relevance of this is that I can now graduate from the poorly held notion I used to have that collage is for primary school children and accept that collage can be awesome, you just have to start with the right imagery.

Collage can be fun!
Collage can be fun!

As I assembled elements for use in my posters, I became increasingly aware of how long it was taking to visualise the concept. In the end, I had to make the decision to create three posters on the same concept and leave the spider legs and chameleon eyes in developmental phase. This was a great shame, as I was really looking forward to realising the soldier of tomorrow with his great big ogilly-googily eyes. The concept was to be similar to the dog nose, but focus more on special operations soldiers, like the SAS or Navy Seals. the fully articulated chameleon eyes would allow the soldier to look in two directions at the same time, helping prevent ambushes, locating targets of interest, watching multiple targets of interest at the same time, offering things like sight magnification, infra-red and night vision, that sort of thing. Looking around corners without sticking your head around it, the list goes on.

Based on my research into spiders and their uncanny ability to walk on ceilings and stick to glass, I had considered some sort of spider-harness not unlike the one spiderman had at one point in the comic books. Science fiction usually has an impact on science fact, with touch screen technology, virtual reality and all sorts of things we take for granted today having first been imagined in the past. The harness would allow for extreme manoeuvrability in extreme locations, like navigating terrain after an earthquake for rescue operations, cleaning skyscraper windows on the outside with no need for a safety harness, mountain climbing, and so on.

Spiderman! Now with the appropriate number of appendages!
Spiderman! Now with the appropriate number of appendages!

Anyway, back to what I did manage to get done. My first poster shows several DEA agents at an airport terminal processing luggage at an x-ray machine. The poster is designed as a warning to those intending to import illegal goods into America and give them another reason to ‘think again’. It also serves as an advertisement to the american people of the efficiency of the DEA and thusly,  of taxpayer money well spent.

My first poster
My first poster

The second poster plays heavily on American patriotism with the flag in the background. The no nonsense message also plays with the brashness and directness that one can identify Americans with.

'murica! 'nough said!
‘murica! ‘nough said!

The third poster was designed as more of a marketing tool to promote the technology to those who would use it more than to those it would impact. I had originally intended to have some sort of x-ray cut out to show the internal mechanics of how the system works, but it quickly dawned on me that I didn’t know enough about how the dog’s nose works or mechanical design to create the intended visual outcome. I wasn’t able to find any examples of what I was looking for to anchor my work to either. So in the end, I settled for something akin to a presentation graphic that investors might be shown. I do like the simple layout, and yet again, the DEA provided the colour scheme from their logo. I hadn’t intended to appropriate the DEA’s identity like that originally, but after drawing the conclusion that the DEA would be the most suitably equipped to wear the technology and still look mostly normal, it seemed rational to present the technology in use under their umbrella. Even though I just said the last poster was not conceived for public display, since no patents or secrets are given away, it could be used simply to promote how advanced the DEA are, both to potential criminals and to prospective employees.

Third poster
Third poster

All in all, the potential for this brief was limitless. I could have spent the entire year doing nothing but this and still barely scratched the surface. I would have loved to create a sleek video package to advertise something, or made a 3d render using something like cinema 4d. It was my great misfortune that this brief came after Christmas and not before. It could have had a significant impact on my overall engagement with the course this year, which, basically, fell off a cliff some time in March. Alas! Alas! What could have been! Still, I did end up with three A1 posters and I did realise some of what I’d hoped to. And finding out that collage can be cool is something I’m going to take with me to the grave. Along with where I hid the bodies.

CIP: Sensory Design: Beyond Limits

Another core project for Creative Industry Practice was called Sensory Design: Beyond Limits. The idea was for us to reimagine a body part or sensory organ or something like that to enhance human abilities beyond the norm. I immediately thought of the bad guy from Wild Wild West, the western with Will Smith in it from the 90s. The bad guy had no legs. Well actually, he had 4 legs, since he was a mad inventor who had a wheelchair which had 4 spider-like legs. I also thought of the video game series Deus Ex, which is set in the near(ish) future where one can augment oneself with cybernetics in the same way one can undergo plastic surgery now.

Wild Wild West with Will Smith and Kenneth Branagh.
Wild Wild West with Will Smith and Kenneth Branagh.

I was intending that my enhancements be surreal and intimidating, like those spider legs. One of my first ideas was some kind of mask that would incorporate hearing aids and eye enhancements to help people who are deaf and/or blind. I wanted it to look like some cross between an Iron maiden and a serial killer’s hockey mask. Unfortunately, in conceptualising the idea, the mask didn’t really need to cover the nose or mouth at all. It’s very interesting to note the importance of getting the idea out of your head and into the real world and seeing if it survives the process.

'When Captain America throws his mighty shield!' Not very intimidating mask which allows the deaf to hear and the blind to see.
‘When Captain America throws his mighty shield!’ Not very intimidating mask which allows the deaf to hear and the blind to see.

Thinking back to the spider legs, I liked the idea of human modifications conceived by a computer. Or perhaps, simply a rational mind unhindered by conventional aesthetics. Human beings have been functionally the same for thousands if not millions of years, so how about some upgrades? looking at some of the most successful examples in the natural world, how about a man with spider legs, a chameleon’s eyes, a dog’s sense of smell and so on.

Sketch book page with my chameleon eyes. They offer a good mix of practicality and looking downright ridiculous.  Some people used to think Batman looked ridiculous too. Then he made Hollywood all that money...
Sketch book page with my chameleon eyes. They offer a good mix of practicality and looking downright ridiculous. Some people used to think Batman looked ridiculous too. Then he made Hollywood all that money…

I then researched those specific examples and started thinking about the benefits one would get from those abilities; who would actually fund research and development and who would find real world applications for them? If history has taught us anything, it’s that nothing speeds up technological advancement like a good war (which is any oxymoron, to be sure). Or to put it another way, if you’re looking for the most advanced technology, try looking at the military. Any sensory enhancement could prove exceptionally useful to a small crack-team of military commandoes deep behind enemy lines on a covert mission. Enhanced eyesight would allow for more accurate tactical observation and target acquisition over longer distances, enhanced smell could help with bomb detection, identification and disposal and enhanced hearing: to avoiding patrols, gather more intelligence and so on.

Having considered my content, it was time to pick a form it should take. We were given a list of options to choose from including several posters, some sort of sculpture, a short film or something else. I decided to go with the posters since they were far bigger than I would have liked them to be, but overcoming the logistical challenge of getting them made would prove useful in the long run.

In the next post I will discuss the poster designs. See you then.