24 August 2017

[art] The Weird Dystopian Past/Present/Future of Simon Stalenhag

Looks like I may be a bit late to the party on this one, because Simon Stalenhag has been doing this for a few years now; his books, Tales From The Loop and Things From The Flood, explore this bizarre world.

But for me, the first-timer to his work, it's a viscerally-disturbing yet visually-compelling and intellectually-intriguing thing. Giant mecha stalk the landscape; inscrutable glowing monoliths dominate the skyline; legions of people wearing what seem to be VR headpieces causing them to resemble queer birds wander the landscape, apparently in thrall to some hypnosis from within them. The technology appears human, yet not-human; was there an invasion? Did some sort of technological breakthrough run amok?

The styles seem as once far future and near-past; cars and homes that came from California tracts of the 70s and 80s mix unironically with tech that seems to have come from 200 or even 300 years hence. Civilization seems to have been severely compromised but seems to function on some level; a young lady with her sidekick android explores suburban and rural homes which have been deserted and have fallen into some disrepair; perched on one item of living room furniture is a TV set from 1975. In a desert outback, great things resembling crashed spaceships decay; in other settings, mundane police investigate. Cables run from mysterious machines into houses and buildings which may or may not have people inhabiting them.

This world is full-tilt-boogie wierd, and gets at once under the skin and stays there.

His website is full with a metric f-ton of his work, and he gives you and upclose and personal look by not only posting his work but also extreme closeups of detail. The artwork looks as though it was done with acrylic, and the brushwork reminds me of Vincent diFate. So if you take diFate, add in a large helping of technological dread, garnish with retro-recent-future dystopia and a generous side of Blade Runner a'la Ridley Scott, and then amp that up to 11 on the eerie, you have this amazingly compelling vision.

The website to visit is http://www.simonstalenhag.se/.


Alexander Case said...

Tales from the Loop got turned into a tabletop RPG recently, which got an ENnie award this year at GenCon. I forget if it won anything though.

Samuel Klein said...

Worth checking out I'd say.