Pratt BFA Communications Design Thesis

Nicholas Kilner-Pontone Illustration


Character Design
Concept Art
Fine Art

I am fascinated by biology, evolution, history, and anthropology, and I have been privileged to take classes in these areas while here at Pratt. Using all of this new rudimentary knowledge, and interest in science fiction, I wanted to build a science fiction universe. I want to design an ecosystem on earth as a way of critiquing our own human, and specifically American ecosystem. An ecosystem where certain cataclysmic events humble humanity in the face of its now unstable consumerism. First the Earth continues to heat, sea levels rise and then the collapse of many ecosystems destabilizes the world. Then following the eruption of the volcano under yellowstone, the world subsequently cools back down but is overrun by ash, dust, lower light, and where fungi regains a more dramatic place in the North American Ecosystem. It is a new era, with new nations but old politics, but now it is populated with a new human ability: the ability to self modify DNA (using CRISPR and advanced printing) in themselves and in other organisms to fit their survival needs. It can be looked at as either a way to get closer to nature, another is that it is the unnatural hybridization of different forms of life and the subsequent domination (or domestication) of that life. I think the eventual future of technology is the hybridization of technology and biology. Life is the best self replicator, so why not work within that system. Ultimately if life can be controlled at its most absolute what is the realm of possibility? Can life be used to grow houses? Or cars? Could humans commune with trees via a mycelial cable that connects our brains to specially bred plants, or vice versa. How strange can ecosystems get?

Furthermore this is a world where the questions of race and gender start to become meaningless in a world where the definition of what is human and what is now a new species leads to an even more complex set of social questions. If people can become something new what do they change? How do they use this power? Who do they try to hurt with it? Dominate with it? Also how is all of this viewed through religion? Are we playing god? Did god give us the ability to self modify? Is there even a god? Maybe we were god all along? Faced with the existential dread of a collapsing global ecosystem as it falters when trying to adapt to the speed of human disruption, humans fall back to not being the only masters of our surrounding environment. I want to tell the story of humans dealing with this, and overcoming their racial and gender issues as their meaning fades in the face of broader social, political, and ethical questions. Except it hasn’t really, as old feuds and ideas perpetuate many of the patterns of human history of domination, destruction, love, passion, creation, jealousy, vengeance, greed, beaty, wonder etc. So why am I telling this story?

I want to illustrate a dramatic shift in our global environment just to expose humans as victims of their own perpetual flaws. No matter how different we make the world we are still only human, and not the only creators here on earth, nature has a funny way of not doing as it's told.