Imagining Other Worlds

Lameesa Mallic
4 min readApr 27, 2022

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This time in class we looked at a lot of speculative/futurist art from various artists with different backgrounds and styles. From illustration to sculpture, to performance art, to fashion/wearables, most of these works were the artists' way of reimagining storytelling in order to imagine these ‘other worlds’. At least that’s what I took away from it. As usual, there was a good mix of subjects and artist backgrounds covered that each person in class could either relate to or get inspired by. The four projects/artists that resonated with me the most were:

There’s much more to say about the rest of the works presented to us, but I think the reason these four stayed with me is a) because each of these artists produces work of a certain graphic quality, and I’m usually drawn to that, and b) because of their unique versions of storytelling. I’ve also noticed there are certain qualities these artists share with each other, which I will attempt to dissect. For example, Atang Tshikare and Omar Gilani illustrate stories, imagining futured environments. Omar Gilani presents us with an alternative sci-fi-esque Pakistan. My inner child gets giddy every time I see his work because of the present-day scenes he sets but in a Pakistan where technology runs wild. The same rickshaws and colorful trucks I’m used to seeing in the homeland have been reimagined to look like something out of a sci-fi comic book. Similarly, Atang Tshikare illustrates his futured environments, sprinkled with creatures embedded in these frames. These creatures are then sculpted by Tshikare, usually out of clay or wood. The stories that Tshikare creates resonate with me more than I thought when I first saw them in class. After a closer look, I realized these stories/creatures kept reminding me of the three characters I created during my undergrad thesis. Not in its entirety, but the concepts remain similar. Although, I had no concept of ‘world building’ back then so these characters, and the world they inhabited, were left unfinished. Looking at Tshikare’s work, however, helps reignite their characteristics and the world that they CAN inhabit. My absolute favorite part about Tshikare’s work is the creation of stories and the 3D physical characters actualized by the artist, extracting them from the 2D plane/world straight into our own recognized world, creating a plural universe (at least that is my current understanding of plural universality).

Atang Tshikare’s Instagram—character development and storytelling.

Morehshin Allahyari’s She Who See’s The Unknown also carries characters she’s reimagined inspired from

This has me thinking a lot about my final project, and these examples are providing me with some much-needed visual aid on how I’d want to materialize the concepts I’ve been working on for so long. I won’t lie though, it is quite difficult for me to scale down some of these ideas, but I do think that it’s important for real world-building. My first inkling is to redevelop my 3 characters, giving them the concepts learned from this class, to produce them to their fullest potential (or to get as close to that as possible). I’ve been afraid of them being presented as too cliched or kitschy, but maybe that’s the world they inhabit?

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