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Fragments: On The Waste Land

Thanks to the fourth industrial revolution—the adoption of cyber-physical system and the Internet—never before have people had such convenience and opportunities to establish social connection, indulge in entertainment, and polish their self-presentation. At the same time, never before have people been so fragmented by “virtual networks”, as every bit of our attention can and will be “transformed into capital”*. As a designer who understands the enterprises that count human attention as capital, I aim to visualize that alienation and dehumanization born to technological development.
My thesis project, Fragments, uses T.S Eliot’s The Waste Land, a canonical text addressing social crisis after the second industrial revolution, as a basis for revealing the social crisis in the contemporary information age.
The typographic component of my project leads to printing and publication. To further emphasize the “fragmented” nature of the poem as well as the contemporary way of retrieving information, the typography is divided into four sections, each in its own artist book.The booklet is 2.79” x 5.65”, in the size of an iPhone X, which has become one of the most common reading devices.
Alternative printing sizes include size of iPhone X plus, iPad, and maybe Kindle. Eventually, the scaling reaches the size of a screen, which leads back to the other component of the project, the video series.
Social and cultural crisis leads to engagement with superstitious behaviors. Researches show that between 1918 and 1940, measures of economic threat correlated directly with measures of superstition.
Written in 1922, The Waste Land alludes loosely to the practice of tarot. Inspired by the allusions Eliot made, I designed a deconstructed version of tarot, replacing the original characters and imageries with those connected to The Waste Land. My version of the tarot pack distorts the initial meaning of each card and shows the characters in a mostly pessimistic state. Though visually similar to the Rider-Waite tarot deck, my version of the cards is a satire on the inclination to seek spiritual guidance through superstitious practices during crisis.
Similar to my typography, my videos translates the original poem into a contemporary context. The videos are broken into short pieces to accentuate the fragmented nature of the project as well as to situate themselves in a fast-pacing environment.