In February of 2018 I was approached by Taylor Bingham of Medium Small — an Austin based art initiative — about participating in their upcoming art show "Future Forward." Taylor is a great guy, and a really talented artist, so I was happy for the opportunity to be a part of it.
Medium Small is a "group exhibition focused on creatives making smaller and more informal pieces of artwork as a way to invite the viewer into the creative process and sparking new ideas among the artists themselves". The idea behind "Future Forward" was "...to not look back, but forward. When envisioning an ideal state of being what do you see? For yourself, your community or family. [Medium Small] encourage the artist to interpret this prompt as they see fit in hopes that we showcase contrasting perceptions of how we define and interact with ideal future."
I wanted this piece to look similar to one of the small ads you might have seen in old magazines, but also thought about how folks might interact with an advertisement in a futuristic landscape. With that in mind, I tried to keep everything looking relatively old fashioned through the utilization of type, the woodcut image, and lattice border pattern; but indicated that the ad was tap-able, implying it is being featured on a screen or similar.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely love the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. In the books, the protagonist is an Earth-man who has been rescued from certain death, just in the nick of time, by his best friend, an alien — the alien part is news to him. At the outset of their journey, the protagonist — Arthur — has a weird fish crammed in his ear by his alien friend; the fish is described as "a small, bright yellow fish, which can be placed in someone's ear in order for them to be able to hear any language translated into their first language." The fish is immensely helpful throughout the rest of the story; and makes a language barrier pretty much non-existent.
I have always thought this seemed like some thing scientists would develop in the future; and really believe that communication and cooperation would be easier and more attainable between the people of the world if something like language wasn't getting in the way. There is a whole other conversation to be had about the beauty of the spoken word, and how a language helps to shape the identity of a culture; but with "The Babel Fish" people wouldn't have to give up their language to relay information. In the books, interaction between different types of space-person are about the same as those between anyone else; but I like to think intercommunication between beings from a common world would have been helped; maybe it made things better.