THE CYCLE OF HUMAN FATE: EXPLORING INEVITABILITIES THROUGH AI & SCI-FI

SAMANTHA MCFADDEN ︎ ART 192 SC-01 THESIS, FALL 2020


︎THE PROJECT︎


    I knew that I wanted my thesis project to be a political statement by way of science-fiction; I hope to convey the seriousness of our current situation regarding climate change and societal unrest. In essence, I wanted my piece to paint a troubling future, crafted by our current failings. My goal, I feel, is best represented by a 3D digital rendering of a human dwelling, long after the collapse of modern society. This future dwelling is constructed on indisputable reality, and offers a digital (and yet, tangible) taste of what our lives could look like in x-amount of years. 
    My city, titled Novissimis (Latin for “the last”), lives in a forgotten world. Novissimis is haunting, as everything about it suggests loneliness and regret, while inspiring a sense of hope that the viewer will hold onto while exploring the city streets. As the viewer turns every corner, they begin to understand that Novissimis, true to its Latin origin, is a futuristic Rome “Discimus ex praeteritis nostris. Patres nostri non fecerunt” (“We learn from our past. Our fathers did not”).
    In addition to the 3D city, I created a series of portraits utilizing AI. Using Playform, I was able to combine photos of Roman busts with images of the richest men in the world. These bizarre portraits are the gods that citizens of Novissimis worship. I chose Rome as my inspiration, because of its historical symbolism; Rome rose to great power, promising world order and wealth, but spread itself too thin under the knife of greedy men. Rome slipped into history, and reminds us that an empire can be great, but fragile and self-sabotaging. I want to explore this concept, as I find that society will always rise to great heights but then crumble under greed, hatred, and a chronic misuse of power. Hopefully, Novissimis holds this cycle on trial, and traps the viewer in a moment of time; greatness lies before us, but the next step is downfall if we choose to iodlize the people that are destroying us.

                                            “Nos condemn abitur”






︎THE CREATOR︎


    Samantha McFadden was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She discovered her passion for the visual arts when she was very young, and was particularly interested in drawing and film. As her skill as an artist grew, she became intrigued with the visual effects used in her favorite film genre, science fiction.
    In high school, she continued to develop my skills. Her media preference was originally graphite and charcoal, but expanded to include colored pencil, watercolor and paint.    
    In college she is pursuing studies in art, media and film. Her skills have grown to include digital art, and she has acquired proficiency in Photoshop, SketchUp, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, After Effects, InDesign, Camera Raw, and many more softwares. She had discovered a passion for futuristic world building, while grappling with issues of the present.



︎THE INSPIRATION︎


    I was largely inspired by the ideologies surrounding wealth in modern and ancient societies. I feel that throughout history, as partly exemplified during the Roman era, people have admired the wealthy, affluent members of society. This admiration comes close to a God/worshipper relationship, and is largely the reason that the class-gap has been able to endure for so long. Of course, protecting the upper-class has only ever ended in ruin: exploitation of limited resources, extreme poverty, and an individualistic outlook on life and betterment.
    The Romans were a great empire that prided itself on the creation of a Republic that saw senators representing different parts of the city. Quite commonly, the people trusted and admired their elected senators. However, these senators were, in most part, members of the elite upper-class, and in no way could accurately represent the needs of the common people.
    Rome eventually fell, despite being one of the most powerful empires in all of history. The empire was slaughtered by Germanic tribes to the North. The reason they allowed themselves to be weakened, was because of the blind ambition of powerful men. The leaders of Rome over the years wanted to spread further and further outwards, accumulating more land and resources. The citizens and soldiers were the machine that made this expansion possible, and were deluded by the notion that their leaders were god-like individuals who had the best intentions for Rome and her people. And for this reason, Rome fell. As you can see, Rome was the natural choice for my inspiration in creating a future society that exemplifies the flaws that ruin us, decade after decade, no matter the supposed strength and prosperity of an empire or larger society. We are tricked into idolizing the peoples that have their boots on our necks, and drive life as we know it into the ground.



 

︎THE MENTORS︎


    Special thanks to my thesis readers Kasper Kovitz and Nancy Macko for offering their continued support and guidance throughout the semester. Your patience and input was invaluable, as well as your willingness to encourage my own creative process. And a special thanks to my peers for being endlessly supportive and encouraging. I am very fortunate to have been surrounded by talented, promising, young artists!