Dystopian City

Title: DigiFest 2021: “Unmasked”
Year created: 2021
Technique: Digital illustration using Adobe Illustration

Category 2: Post COVID-19 (Future Imaginings)


Author’s details: 
Group: Bongiwe Lisa Khumalo, Khethelo Sanele Mgenge & Nguquko Nhlakanipho Dignity Dumakude
Department of Visual Communication Design: Interior Design Programme (3rdYear)

The outbreak of the Corona virus in December 2019 has led to great suffering, injustice, and totalitarianism worldwide. In a group effort, we designed a collage and bus stop portraying a future dystopian city. We imagined an apocalyptic future in which all hope for humans was lost. Further, we foresee increased death rates and severe poverty for the underprivilegedpostcovid-19. The covid-19 pandemic was sudden, extreme, and swiftly accelerated globally. This could possibly lead to a technological dystopian society in the next decade.

The covid-19 pandemic continues to show signs of a dystopian society as the natural world is banished and distrusted. The challenges we are currently confronting, such as citizens living in a dehumanised state, being afraid of the outside world and conforming to uniform expectations are all characteristics of a dystopian society. Lockdown measures were implemented to slow down the spread of the corona virus. These measures changed human behavior, human perspective and instilled a fear of the outside world while keeping citizens under constant surveillance. Information, independent thoughts, and freedom are restricted. Handshakes are now prohibited, physical contact and touching of one’s face is greatly discouraged. Wearing of masks in public spaces, constantly sanitizing our hands, keeping one meter distance away from others and working from home has become “the new normal”.

The composition of our collage embraces a predictable apocalypse postcovid-19. The man in a hazmat suit expresses that the cure for this virus will never be discovered- he is wearing an oxygen mask instead of a surgical mask. The streets are littered with disposed masks and vaccination kits. The red and black flag hanging on the building symbolises a misfit rebellion against the world capitalist systems that only favourwealthy people. The car resembling a Ford Falcon V8 interceptor from the “Mad Max” franchise is a vehicle not manufactured by automotive companies for human use. This suggests a rise in a socialist system, where people are helping themselves rather than depending on government and corporations.

According to James Manyika (2020), “the world after covid-19 is unlikely to return to the world that was before. Pandemics force humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew”. History has shown that the decisions and choices made during a crisis can shape the world for decades to come. What remains critical is the need for collective action to build economies that deliver inclusive economic growth, prosperity, and safety for all (Sadanha , 2020). Many of the problems we will face post covid-19 will simply be extreme versions of those we are confronting today. The acceleration of challenges is the result not only of technological advances but also of new consideration for health and safety.

The design of the bus stop borrows elements from space age design. The concept is based on a glass rectangular form with sleek lines and smooth edges. Sleek polygon forms and stainless-steel seats and the vibrant red colour were inspired from space age design elements. The bus stop design has a geometric frame with glass partitions keeping passengers a meter away from each other, complying with covid-19 regulations. Each booth contains a sanitizer dispenser. We placed our bus stop in a dystopian city with a futuristic bus to visibly express what we think the world would look like post covid-19.

The future of design lies in the application of digital technologies, innovation and considering new ways to solve old problems. Boston (2020) explains that “The global marketplace is becoming more digital; therefore, businesses must evolve in order to stay competitive and boost profits”. He continues to state that small to medium sized enterprises (SMME) are demanding new insights into customer behavior and needs so they can tailor new digital products and servicing, while looking for new ways to deliver and support their existing services digitally through online advertisements and sales. The covid-19 pandemic is a gateway to the age of artificial intelligence.

In conclusion,covid-19will lead to a dystopia: an unjust corporate control where propaganda is used to manipulate citizens. Challenges such as income polarization, worker vulnerability and the need for workers to adapt places millions of livelihoods at risk. Moreover, the underprivileged are oppressed and denied access to quality health care services and vaccines, resulting in a wipeout of human lives.


October 11, 2021

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