201: Ready Player One: Dystopian Collage

Dystopian Collage


Many western art movements in the early 20th century used collage and photomontage to comment on the politics of the times, including the chaos of war and social experiments like communism. This photomontage is by Russian Constructivist Aleksandr Rodchenko.

Create a digital collage that speaks to the notions of dystopia and/or utopia. You may also wish to incorporate your understanding of 1980s culture and technology, as well as other ideas from Ernest Cline’s novel, “Ready Player One.” Apply your understanding of the history of collage and photomontage as well as principles of design and composition. Create your collage in Adobe Photoshop, using the techniques, tools, and best practices covered in your tutorials and class demos. Some of the material used in your collage should be from online sources—with appropriate citations and links provided on a citation checklist that will be supplied in class. Your digital collage should use at least six separate image sources. (You may also use digital photographs you have taken yourself or scanned if you wish, but some of your sources must be found online.)

We will have a brief introduction to the Photoshop workspace in class, and you are expected to follow the required tutorials as homework and when time is available during class. Your instructor will provide as much one-on-one assistance as possible. You are welcome and encouraged to seek out additional tutorials to supplement your knowledge.

Your Photoshop document should be  8×10 inches at 300 ppi (2400 x 3000 pixels). It may be oriented as landscape or portrait.

Anthony Goicolea is a contemporary artist and photographer who makes work that could be considered dystopian. Many of his images are digitally composited from multiple photographs.





Additional Resources


What you will bring to group critique:

Bring a nearly complete draft of your collage, ready to open in Photoshop to share with the members of your group. Be ready to walk your group through the ideas behind your work and your plans for the finishing touches. Write down their feedback. Also make notes so you can write a critique of the work of one of your group members. Two printed copies of your written critique will be due next class (one copy for your instructor, one for your group member).

As a group, you will also decide on one collage which you will present to the class next time. All group members should  be prepared to make comments about the collage in your presentation. The person whose collage is chosen should have it ready on his/her thumbdrive for next class, saved as both a PSD and a high res JPG.

What you will hand in for the final project:

Saved on your thumbdrive,*** in a folder named “yourlastname-project1”:

  1. Your finished Photoshop file with layers intact (file extension PSD). Your file should be 8×10 inches at 300 ppi (2400 x 3000 pixels).
  2. Your finished file re-saved as a high resolution jpeg (original resolution, file extension JPG, jpeg quality: max)
  3. Your finished file re-saved as a low resolution jpeg (800 x 1000 pixels, file extension JPG, jpeg quality: max)
  4. Your online image sources as you originally downloaded them, with appropriate citation checklist, in a subfolder labeled “image-sources” (These are for the images you use in the final collage only: Do not include images you don’t use.)

Printed to hand in:

  1. A typed critique of one person from your group critique session (1 page, double-spaced, 12 pt. font)
  2. A typed explanation of your work (1 page, double-spaced, 12 pt. font), addressing:
    1. How your design readings informed your compositional strategy and choice of imagery
    2. How you hope your final image describes, references, or evokes dystopia or utopia, and perhaps 1980s culture and technology as well. Make sure to reference Ready Player One, Ernest Cline’s lecture, and other class resources that contributed to your understanding (Photoshop tutorials, photomontage and collage, elements of design, layering and juxtaposition, etc.)
    3. How specific Photoshop tools and techniques influenced your creative process.

*** Thumbdrives must be labeled with “your last name” and “DTC201”