Ah, modern life. The way we live now is intrinsically tied to increasingly pervasive technology, our relationship to which could be permanently set to “it’s complicated.” French graphic designer Jean Jullien presented his own playful take on our ever-evolving connection to gadgets, gizmos, and yes, human interaction for Allo?, currently on display at London’s Kemistry Gallery.
“A show is a great moment to capture the attention of people and create a proper dialogue, to communicate ideas,” Jullien tells Co.Design of his decision to present work surrounding a particular theme, as opposed to displaying a more general survey (”My website is there for that.”). Rather than offer scathing critiques or harsh judgments, his brightly hued, bold-lined illustrations are a “humble commentary” representative of his own keen interest and bemusement.
“I love looking around me, observing behaviors and social patterns. That’s the beauty of living in society--it’s gregarious, yet full of quirks and uniqueness,” he says. “Sure, there’s a deeper, harsher undertone to it--we’re increasingly (if not completely) addicted to one another. There’s the physical, awkward cohabitation that happens every day and the overly confident and almost intrusive online way of being with one another.”
Ultimately, it’s the ubiquity of these shared experiences that makes Jullien’s art so relatable. I mean, take a look at Never Alone; that fella’s one eye wide open, the glowing LCD just out of reach in a darkened room. It’s funny and a little sad, and ugh, a teensy part of me kind of wants to reach in and check his email for him. That doesn’t feel great, but I know I’m not alone. Jullien writes: “Our increased addiction to smart-phones and screens in general is inevitable. Being attracted to newness is a natural thing--as is being scared of change--but eventually we get used to things, whether they’re great or terrible. It’s just the way the world goes. It’s always been like that. Think of writing, electricity, the world being flat, television, cars: they are all things that have been critiqued, observed, then accepted.”
It’s nice, then, that Jullien has a sense of humor about the whole thing. “I’d like visitors to have a good laugh at what they see,” he says. “I’m as addicted to my phone as the characters I drew for the show. So essentially, I’m pointing at myself as much as at everyone else around me.”
For more of his work, check out his moving images, and catch Allo? at London’s Kemistry Gallery through March 16.
(H/t It’s Nice That)