In his Master’s of Fine Arts thesis exhibition Where Does It Go From Here? , AJ Nafziger takes inspiration from science fiction literature and uses his artwork to illustrate thoughts on the future, as seen in the past. The bizarre and wondrous worlds thought up by authors such as Aldous Huxley and Isaac Asimov often can be traced back to ideas that were connected to their present time. In his artist's statement, Nafziger asks, “From a past perspective, how distant are we from the society described in Brave New World, or for that matter, The Jetsons? By infusing these classical ideas of science fiction with the surroundings of local landscapes, Nafziger captures the mystery of abandoned utopias once conceived as futuristic.
Humans have always looked towards the future in an attempt to predict the upcoming technology and societal changes. Although many scientific elements can be drawn from writings as far back as Plato, many consider Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as one of the first examples of true science fiction, as she was able to incorporate technology that was familiar, drawing a line that connected the story to her present time (chemical experiments, laboratories). Like Shelly, Nafziger’s imaginary landscapes do not seem as far fetched since they are based in familiar places. In The Future Is Not What It Used To Be I and II abstract forms impose in Arizona canyons like Horseshoe Bend. Large drapes of fabric cover the remains of projects past. The monochromatic coloring of the pencil aids in the feeling that the viewer has come across vintage plans of what the future may hold.
Nafziger goes farther into the past with Dreamsnake IV (above). Reminiscent of the Nazca Lines in southern Peru, Nafziger recalls the alternate theories written in several science fiction books as portals or markers put there by extraterrestrial beings. The black constellation like background also points to the mysteries within science fiction that spur contemplation of the future by opening the mind. In Golden Path (below) he uses a similar winding line and transposes it over a horizontal landscape. Both artworks have ancient qualities that are brought forth from the meandering lines, perhaps of ancient civilizations mapping constellations or energy fields. No matter how far fetched, Nafziger draws all aspects of science fiction to his work.
Where Does It Go From Here? Is a strong MFA thesis exhibition that shows AJ Nafziger’s versatility as an artist. It is clear that this subject was chosen with great care as he writes “I have always admired the prognostic authors of this genre, their concern for our mutual future, revealing how our society functions by showing how it could function differently and above all their rare combination of a profound capacity for philosophy with a fearlessness of appearing playful and even ridiculous.