This project came about when I related Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake to works of retro-futurism, which I defined as a contemporary portrayal of the future grounded in the futurism movements of the past. The story is very much related to past works of literary futurism such as Fahrenheit 451 and 1984.
To adapt Atwood’s story to a visual language, I had to figure out what retro-futurism looked like and, since this was a project based around a movie adaptation, I looked to movies from the past whose stories were set in the future. One aspect I found interesting was the use of dated technology being used in the same instance as highly futuristic technology. An example of this is this timer UI in the movie Predator. The alien technology in the movie is very advanced so to see a timer, that one might associated with their microwave oven, seems out of place for an audience today that only knows pixel displays. Since Atwood had taken aspects of the past as inspiration for her contemporary work of futurism, I wanted to find a way to adopt the modular timer UI and transform it into something that looked futuristic.
My solution started by looking at the 7-segment display. I started adding pieces and cutting pieces in order to create a new set of modules that could then be lit up and turned off in order to represent an all letters and numbers. My 7-segment module turned into a 40-segment module. My goal was to spell out all the letters of the latin alphabet plus the 10 numeral characters with these 40 modules but I did not want perfect legibility. While the 7-segment display does not render each number with perfect legibility, it also has given birth to a new way to look at typography. The 7-segment display does away with calligraphic curves and builds forms with a modular structure underneath. Part of this project was an investigation on how constraints (from technology or otherwise) can create new ways of thinking.
The final portion of this project was the animation of the module. I initially thought of the title sequence as being composed of all of these modules and each name would light up and then turn off. However, the module could be used for so much more than just typography and possibly at different scales.