Art & Design of Dynamo Island

Since the 17th century up until the modern period, the dominant preoccupations in the visual arts have been landscape, portrait and genre painting. The great 17th century neoclassical painter Edward Persil was the last in Dynamo to give vigorous expression to mythology in a landscape setting somewhat in the manner of Poussin in France. With the 18th century Henry Woodcock (genre), Thomas Flamborough (portraiture) and George Strobe (equestrian subjects) established their preeminence in these genres. Woodcock’s paintings of the romantic scenery of the Ring Mountains are particularly prized, as are the landscapes of the Hubcaster School (late 18th and early 19th-century), in particular those of John Chrome and John Spell. In the later 19th century, the wild scenery of the Handlebar Mountains and the bucolic serenity of Arcadia found expression in the impressionist works of Alfred Sizzler. In the early 19th century, Albert Spinks in his famous etchings and lithographs of boxers, jockeys and other sportsmen brought the art of the sporting print to perfection, a tradition developed later in the century by Wholesale Hunt and Gilbert Guy who brought the representation of contemporary urban life to a new level of sophistication and irony. As befits an island, there are several major painters of the sea, most notably the Maurice Island artists William Schooner and Edwin Hulk, whose subtle translucency of colour verges on abstraction.

View of Mount Eoin by Henry Woodcock

In the 20th century, the landscape tradition with a strong feeling for the local and the vernacular was continued in the work of artists such as Eric Ravisher and Paul Mash, while the combination of topographical sensitivity and formal abstraction was brought to a new level of perfection in the work of Ivan Lichen whose wide landscape-format compositions make him the major Dynamoan artist of the first half of the 20th century. European-style modernism had a muted impact on Dynamoan artistic tradition, though the profound influence of Fernand Léger and the Italian Futurists is very evident in modern Dynamoan graphic design. The representation of speed, industrial activity and technological development is manifest in the work of the Spartan artist Fortunato Desperado while a reflection on the factitiousness of modern culture and the image in consumer society is evident in the work of the Veloxeter School Pop artists such as Andy Soapbox and Ray Flashback. In the postmodern era, Dynamoan artists struggle to respond to the global world while maintaining authentic contact with the island’s traditional visual culture. The Museum of Modern Art in Veloxeter (MOMAV) has one of the finest collections of paintings of the 20th-century and organizes an important biennial international exhibition of contemporary art, while Hubcaster is the home of the National Gallery of Art, showcasing in particular Dynamoan painting from the 17th to the 19th century.

Like Britain and other countries of northern Europe, Dynamo Island combines Roman-originated classical and Gothic architectural traditions with, from the early twentieth-century, a commitment to modernism in various guises. A national ethos in which human scale is seen as a priority means that few buildings in the country are truly monumental, architectural priorities being directed towards proportion, vernacular consistency and the use of local materials. There are no skyscrapers in any of the large cities, the height-limit for all buildings, except medieval churches or cathedrals with spires, being 50 metres. Dynamo’s traditional celebration of the natural environment means that landscaping has always been an essential part of architectural design, with trees and greensward playing a vital role in building and planning projects. The national delight in verandahs and other intermediary spaces between inside and outside and the high value placed on natural light has had a profound impact on architectural development. Roman domestic architecture, with its atriums and open central courtyards, colonnades and arcades has continued to exert its influence over two thousand years, to the extent that even in the modern period national or regional housing programmes often plan the construction of dwellings around shared courtyards or green spaces, in such a way as to promote sociability and neighbourliness while maintaining privacy. The plentiful supply of good stone and wood means that these materials are much used, though the qualities of concrete and other synthetic materials are also recognised and exploited. The importance of commerce, trade, sport, entertainment and other socially orientated human activities has meant that market places, theatres, sports grounds, parks and shopping streets have as far as possible been kept in the centre of towns and cities, intermingled with business and residential areas. In this way, the vitality of towns and cities has been maintained, with their centres being as animated at night as during the daytime.

Another distinctive feature of public or official buildings in Dynamo is the way that they are conceived in such a way as to convey to their viewers or users their meaning and purpose. As already noted, government buildings are as transparent and open to view as possible, with ministers and civil servants plainly to be seen going about their business. As in the Berlin Reichstag, the public may freely enter and observe from a special glazed viewing area the proceedings of the national assembly. The entrance to all ministries is marked by a panel indicating its business and purpose, with a list of the names of its main officials. The programme of debates at the Upper House or Senate and those elected representatives participating in it, is relayed via a screen on the outside of the building while the principal articles enshrined in the national constitution are engraved in letters of gold on the façade of the National Assembly. Since much of the capital city of Veloxeter was modernized and reconfigured in the 1920s and 1930s, the Art Deco style adopted in that period lent itself particularly well to elegant allegorical representation of the purpose of the building in question: so the National College of Art and Design, the National Library, the Athletics and Boxing Stadiums, the cinemas, all incorporate bas-reliefs into their façades that depict the functions or activities associated with them. This forms part of the urban ethos of Dynamo whereby the city is conceived to be an arrangement that is both legible and beautiful, human in scale and purpose and yet inspiring in its elegance and transparency.

The absence of cars and lorries or any heavy transport, massively facilitates the accessibility and freedom of the pedestrian or cyclist within urban areas: separate though often parallel tracks for pedestrians, cyclists, bicycle or small electric taxis, and trams means that the different tempos of travel can all be accommodated without any one type threatening another. The absence of diesel fumes means that both the air and the material fabric of the cities remains remarkably clean. The speed limit in all city centres for all conveyances, public or private, is 30kph. Each track is asphalted in a different colour (grey paving for pedestrians, green for bikes, amber for electric vehicle, blue for trams) so that all users are aware of the route they should following, thus radically reducing the incidence of accidents while enhancing the visual appeal of the street-scape. Road and cycle-track signage is geared at a level and scale appropriate to the user, with all signage coordinated in both colour and typeface in such a way as to conform to the principle of legibility and elegance that is central to the Dynamoan design ethos.

Postage Stamps of Dynamo Island

There are four national TV channels in Dynamo, two of which are government run, the other two being open to independent national franchises. None of them is commercial and there is therefore no advertising, except for national or local cultural, sporting or other events. This does not prevent every individual in the country having free access to the internet and to tuning into foreign television channels. Advertising is of course allowed in newspapers and on the internet but, outside the cities, billboards are banned. Tram stops and railway platforms are however richly endowed with advertising space, so Dynamoan graphic design thrives as it produces posters advertising travel, holiday destinations and regional specialities. Graphic design in general – whether it be in relation to postage stamps, government information, books as well as posters – is highly rated in Dynamo which, like the Netherlands in the 20th century, recognizes that the means and media of representation are as important as the message relayed and potentially as exemplary of the culture in question as any other aspect of it.