Research

Exploring the Frontiers of Visual Identity Design as Envisioned by Science Fiction

Original Entry 02.18.2020

Robotic Union

Category

AI, Government, Law Enforcement, Robotics

Scenario Date

Year 2107

The Robotic Union is a political and economic union of settlements consisting of human and sentient robot citizenry, that is run by an artificial intelligence known as The Machine. Its capital is Robo-City 16, a megacity with an upper elite consisting mostly of robots, and a largely marginalized human population that lives in poorer districts. The union is governed by Robo-President K3n3-Dy IV and the four ministries of Justice, Coin, Information and Technology.

Identity Designed by

Josan Gonzalez

Source

  • The Future is Now 2 (2017 art book)

Overview: The Robotic Union Visual Identity


Intro: Robotic Union

Josan Gonzalez’s sci-fi narrative art book The Future is Now 2 - Neon Rising follows the stories of various characters fighting for their future in a dystopian cyberpunk world set in the year 2107.

The story begins in the Robotic Union, which stands where the present-day European Union exists, on a world map that has been radically altered by the events of the Multi-Wars and climate change.

The sprawling and towering Robo-City 16 is its capital — the largest and most powerful megacity in the world. Ruled and run by The Machine and its creations, Robo-City 16’s citizens are both robot and human, with humans holding a lower status in society. In the city’s lowest depths, are the Mutants — humans genetically transformed by the city’s toxic waste.

Robo-City 16 has a harsh government controlled by corporations, that has grown more oppressive over time, alongside conflicts between machine and human. It currently faces a violent human resistance movement, whose members operate under the name Enemies of Reality.

Much thanks to Josan Gonzalez, aka Deathburger, for answering my questions and sharing the inspiration behind the symbols and logos he created for The Future is Now 2.

<p><strong>Figure 1.1</strong> Robo-City 16 is the largest city in the world, covering most of what would be known as Europe.</p>

Figure 1.1 Robo-City 16 is the largest city in the world, covering most of what would be known as Europe.


Analysis: The Symbol Designs and Their Inspiration

In the pages devoted to the story as it plays out in Robo-City 16, we see the robotic government using a number of symbols, some in defined applications and others in a more general manner. To aid in my analysis of these symbols, I asked Josan about his thought process and the design decisions behind their application.

By far, the most prominent of the symbols are the lightning bolt and the star. Josan applied these symbols broadly, as an identifier for the Robotic Union authorities, police, ministers and president.

Regarding the lightning bolt, his intent was to draw a connection between the symbol and those of Europe’s fascist movements, to reinforce the idea that the Robotic Union is “very control focused and repressive.” He pointed to the similarity between it and the bolts used by the Third Reich for SS officers (Figure 2.1).

The use of the star, combined with the colors yellow and blue, points to another familiar identity — that of the present-day European Union (Figure 2.2), whose flag features a ring of yellows stars on a blue field. In the fictional world of The Future is Now, the megacities map to nations as we have known them in the real-world, and the Robotic Union’s cities are a reimagination of Europe. Following on this, the Robotic Union’s flag also plays off of the EU’s design.

In addition to those symbols, I found the escutcheon or shield playing an important role as well. They appear in numerous instances, as badges for authority, with a variety of charges that include things like stars, stripes and lightning bolts. There’s a connection to be drawn with law enforcement in general, but I also see a nod to 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd — a "street judge", with the power to arrest, convict, sentence and execute criminals on the spot. Readers with an understanding of Judge Dredd’s dystopian future will get a better idea of what kind of world we see in The Future is Now, and appreciate the reference.

Beyond the flag that I’ve already covered, we see two other identifying symbols in the book that can be specifically assigned to the Robotic Union entities they represent. On the Robo-President (Figure 2.4), we see a badge hanging from his right shoulder, that bears an “RC 16” graphic, identifying him as the ruler of Robo-City 16. And on his belt, we see a symbol that makes many appearances, representing the most important of the Union’s four corporate run governing ministries — the Ministry of Information. Run by VR Corp, the Ministry of Information is tasked with mass media control and public pacification through virtual reality, as well as the detection and dismantlement of dissident cells.

Of all the Union’s symbols, the Ministry of Information’s was the one Josan put the most thought into, due to its prominent role in the narrative. The emblem or seal, consists of a triangle containing an exclamation point, with two lightning bolts extending upwards from its sides (Figure 2.5). The triangle, for Josan, was a callback to the guarded knowledge of Masonic powers and the Illuminati, and a shape that represents the “classic aristocratic hierarchy,” where a standing triangle means oligarchic power. As he explained it: “The base is wide which is the poor, the common men; the top is narrow, the people with the power.”

The exclamation mark within a triangle is also a standard icon for failed queries or inputs in computer applications, and acts as a symbol of the censored information one receives from the ministry. And of course, the lightning bolts to emphasize its fascist nature.

Most of what I’ve pointed to so far in images, for examples of the symbols in use, have involved their application to the uniforms and garb of characters in the story. But that is only a small piece of a much bigger picture. Josan’s elaborately drawn environments present readers with an onslaught of visual information, and the scenes are literally littered with signs, graffiti, propaganda, products and other visual elements that employ these symbols for the purpose of world-building. Being an art book with no writing, these details do more than just create an atmosphere for the story, but actually help tell some of the story of the world Josan has created. With that said, to share every instance of this identity’s application in the book would be too exhaustive for this entry, so I’ll share only a few more examples in the following section.

<p><strong>Figure 2.1</strong> By far the most prominent symbol of the Robotic Union is the lightning bolt, which calls to mind European fascist movements.</p>

Figure 2.1 By far the most prominent symbol of the Robotic Union is the lightning bolt, which calls to mind European fascist movements.

<p><strong>Figure 2.2</strong> Stars make many appearances on the uniforms of authorities (left), and also on the Robotic Union flag (top right), which echo the symbol of the European Union (bottom right).</p>

Figure 2.2 Stars make many appearances on the uniforms of authorities (left), and also on the Robotic Union flag (top right), which echo the symbol of the European Union (bottom right).

<p><strong>Figure 2.3</strong> Police from Robo-City 16 are adorned in shields, similar to those we see on Judge Dredd, who polices Mega-City One in the <em>2000 AD</em> comic.</p>

Figure 2.3 Police from Robo-City 16 are adorned in shields, similar to those we see on Judge Dredd, who polices Mega-City One in the 2000 AD comic.

<p><strong>Figure 2.4</strong> Robo-President K3n3-Dy IV is adorned with lightning bolts, a badge representing the city, and the seal of the Ministry of Information.</p>

Figure 2.4 Robo-President K3n3-Dy IV is adorned with lightning bolts, a badge representing the city, and the seal of the Ministry of Information.

<p><strong>Figure 2.5</strong> The Ministry of Information’s triangular seal pulls from multiple sources of inspiration, with meanings relating to established power and hierarchy, as well as information and technology.</p>

Figure 2.5 The Ministry of Information’s triangular seal pulls from multiple sources of inspiration, with meanings relating to established power and hierarchy, as well as information and technology.


Additional Examples of Usage

<p><strong>Figure 3.1</strong> In this opening scene from the book, we see the Robotic Union flag on the upper left, and the Ministry of Information seal on the right.</p>

Figure 3.1 In this opening scene from the book, we see the Robotic Union flag on the upper left, and the Ministry of Information seal on the right.

<p><strong>Figure 3.2</strong> Symbols often blend into scenes, when they aren’t using a contrasting color, but reveal themselves as you inspect the details.</p>

Figure 3.2 Symbols often blend into scenes, when they aren’t using a contrasting color, but reveal themselves as you inspect the details.

<p><strong>Figure 3.3</strong> The urban landscape of Robo-City 16 is filled with neon and billboards, much of it featuring propaganda of the Ministry of Information.</p>

Figure 3.3 The urban landscape of Robo-City 16 is filled with neon and billboards, much of it featuring propaganda of the Ministry of Information.

<p><strong>Figure 3.4</strong> The Ministry of Information seal and the lightning bolt are seen on the vicious robotic dogs that are used to hunt political dissidents.</p>

Figure 3.4 The Ministry of Information seal and the lightning bolt are seen on the vicious robotic dogs that are used to hunt political dissidents.

<p><strong>Figure 3.5</strong> The lightning bolt on a character’s phone lets readers know where their allegiance lies, and that they have betrayed the resistance.</p>

Figure 3.5 The lightning bolt on a character’s phone lets readers know where their allegiance lies, and that they have betrayed the resistance.

<p><strong>Figure 3.6</strong> Robots delivering products to the EFF bear the lightning bolt, indicating their citizenship in the Robotic Union.</p>

Figure 3.6 Robots delivering products to the EFF bear the lightning bolt, indicating their citizenship in the Robotic Union.


<p>Cover image for <em>The Future is Now 2 - Neon Rising</em></p>

Cover image for The Future is Now 2 - Neon Rising

The Designer: Josan Gonzalez

AKA DeathBurger

Illustrator, Architect and Grand Maker of Pizza. Head Archivist of The Ministry of Information of Robo-City Prime, Robotic Union. Designated by The Machine to manage the New Citadel 9, an independent publishing house that releases all The Future is Now related books, prints, original art and merchandise.

Rituals performed at:

Dynamite Entertainment, Boom! Studios, Dark Horse, Games Magazine, Agat and Cie Films, Medium Corp, Editora Aleph, Wired Magazine, Avex Music Group, Paramount Pictures, RoadSec, Harmonix Systems, Metallica, Mondo, Pearl Jam, CDProjekt Red.

Ocassionally summoned at:

3D Total's Sketching from Imagination: Sci-Fi, ImagineFX (FX Posé, March 2016)

To learn more, visit:

Official Website

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