City Girl Sentimentalism

Warning: SPOILERS.

When I first saw Westworld, the first season was the only season available for streaming on HBO. Back then, I made it to the third episode before boredom consumed me and my need for plot materiality got the best of me. Flash forward three years, and quarantine meant that I could finish the series in just 5 days–and I did. Jonathan Nolan’s captivating rebuild of the 1973 movie of the same name takes futurism into an entirely new genre. As the series focuses on Delores, one of several hundred android “hosts” in a massive and immersive theme park located somewhere in China, the storyline shifts into themes of existentialism, liberation, and full-on dystopian maelstrom.

Once finishing season 3, I couldn’t get Westworld out of my mind. What took me past the central question of “what makes us human?” was the realization that this series is not too far off from the future. In fact, I would have been only 53 years old when Maeve made her brave escape and re-escape from Delos headquarters, which made me think “how far are we from achieving the reality Nolan creates so effortlessly”. I like to call this “subtle futurism”: in which science fiction applies itself to the near future. The technology is close enough to our own that we can easily place ourselves in the story’s environment. Applying this to my medium of fashion photography brought me to “City Girl Sentimentalism”, my take on Westworld and fashion in the now, as opposed to the future.

“City Girl Sentimentalism”, an octet for winds and percussion written by Shuhei Tamura, contains the futuristic allure that Westworld sells. The piece begins amazingly groovy, composed of several distinct melodious sections that exchange motifs, painting a scene of the subject’s daydream wandering through her old neighborhoods. Merging the tonalities of Jazz music with elements of classical, Tamura writes, in music, the subtle futurism that Nolan explores. Featured in the images is Olivia Johnson, a city girl herself. With each passing tableaux, the mood grows more collected, more sentimental. Images of cities appear as she mentally places herself back in her environment.

– Jacob Ward

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