An Exploration of Character Based on ‘Perdido Street Station’ by China Miéville

Perdido Street Station is an award-winning adult fantasy novel by British author China Miéville. The story takes place in a fictional city where both magic and steampunk technology exist. Humans, and bizarre immigrant races coexist in disharmony under an authoritarian government. The novel would be adapted into a high budget television miniseries. I chose to explore three characters based on their position in society, using a different approach for each character.

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Isaac: The human protagonist, Isaac, is a brilliant but undisciplined scientist, dabbling in all areas of science. I explored Isaac’s character through his work space, creating an instillation of his desk for my degree show exhibition.

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Lin:  Lin, is a Khepri who are a female dominated race with human bodies and scarab beetles for heads. Fantasy creatures are rarely portrayed as complex characters in film and television so I explored how to make her relatable to the audience despite not having human facial features. I designed and made a static prototype of an animatronic scarab head that would be worn by an actress playing Lin in the television series.

Mr Motley

Mr Motley: To counterbalance these two sympathetic characters I also explored an antagonist character, Mr Motley. He is a Mob boss who has grafted extra body parts from various creatures onto himself. This is a practice called ‘remaking’ used by the government to punish and humiliate criminals, but Mr Motley has taken this to the extreme as a form of self aggrandisement. I used sculptural maquettes to design Mr Motley, exploring how to make him menacing and grotesque but still portray him as a character as opposed to a creature.

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Production Design for Philip K. Dick’s ‘Ubik’

Ubik screenplayFor this 12 week individual project  I designed sets for a film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1969 novel Ubik, working from the screenplay written by Dick himself in 1974. The story revolves around modern society’s fear of death and our desperation to postpone dying for as long as possible. In Ubik technology exists a person can be frozen immediately after death so they are suspended in a state in between life and death known as half-life. These people are kept in a facility called Beloved Brentham Moratorium where their loved ones can talk to them via microphone and speakers, like visiting a sick relative in hospital. I designed a series of interconnecting sets to make up the front of house part of the facility, as well as a control room where the half-life caskets are processed by staff. I intended the front of house sets to be sleek but sterile and soulless, with the only colour coming from garish advertising. Black and white was used to signify that this is a place where life and death meet but cannot touch. The control room was intended to provide a stark contrast to the front of house sets by being industrial, colourful and messy to show that this place in fact has more life.

Would you like to read more about this project? Here is a detailed Summary Book