Visualizing Eco-dystopia

ecodystopias
Montage of details from eco-dystopian novel covers of the 1960s-70s.

“Visualizing Eco-dystopia” is forthcoming (October 2018) in the journal Design & Culture. Here’s the abstract: “This study examines the cover designs of popular works of eco-dystopian speculative fiction, documenting how graphic designers and commercial illustrators have conceptualized the impact of human behaviors on the near-future environment. The sample includes 105 covers for ten high-impact, mass-market novels written between 1962 and 2013. Coded for thematic similarities, the sample reveals visual strategies and narrative tropes that have recurred since the advent of contemporary eco-dystopian fiction in the 1960s. Yet evolving social and environmental conditions render the specific visual motifs more journalistic than anticipatory. Re-conceptualizing eco-dystopia through the meta-language of design failure, however, can be a way to suggest both genre-specific continuity and emergent concerns.”

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