(Images by Steve McGhee, all rights reserved, reproduced with permission)
Those familiar with Graham Greene’s short story The Destructors, or the film Donnie Darko, will have stumbled across the ironic concept of destruction as a form of creation. Canadian artist Steve McGhee takes this idea to a whole new level, stating that, for him, “inspiration comes from the epicenter of the horrific and the heavenly in equal measure.” If Christophe Dessaigne’s post-apocalyptic art depicts the remnants of a shattered world, Steve McGhee’s digital disaster images frame the events that create such dystopia.
Hailing from London, Ontario, Steve McGhee is a graphic designer and digital artist by profession. But it’s from his personal artistic pursuits that many of his most inspired – and destructive – creations originate. McGhee attended George Brown College in Toronto and honed his Photoshop skills by sneaking into third year advanced classes while still a mere first year.
Advancing at a rapid pace – and driving his teachers to distraction in the process – McGhee acquired the skills he would later use to turn the urban landscape into scenes of disaster and dystopia. In addition to top notch Photoshop abilities, the other ingredient necessary for this apocalyptic cocktail would be a vivid imagination, which he has in awe-inspiring abundance.
Drawing on some of the darker moments of his own life, McGhee said: “For me, the only way to heal is to use the moments that knock us down in the same way as the moments that build us up. Whether it be death or life, it seems to take me in the same direction. It seems to end at the same place – the desire to create.”
Our world abounds with lost civilisations, from the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah to the enigmatic lost city of Atlantis. Whether real or imagined, their fates were the same – destroyed by earthquakes, fire and water. McGhee’s digital art takes us into the eye of the storm, underscoring the futility of words in the midst of nature’s fury. In an odd sort of way, these moments bring people together and remind us of our common humanity.
His breathtaking digital art depicts aircraft crashing to earth, ships swallowed by whirlpools and entire cities consumed by water. But McGhee also suggests a strangely serene aftermath where a new breed of urban explorers dive the submerged remnants of the modern world. Like abandoned buildings and places, ruined icons like the Statue of Liberty take on an entirely different atmosphere and even architecture in desertion.
Speaking of the motivation behind his work, McGhee said: “It gives me a place to put feelings that would otherwise be too overwhelming and it is the only way to be truly original, truly groundbreaking.” Like Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, there is a strangely hopeful message in Steve McGhee’s digital art that goes beyond disaster’s ability to unite. For after the storm has subsided and the dust settled, nature stages a comeback and the cycle of life begins again. (Discover more from Steve McGhee.)
Guardians of Time: Mystic Sculpture by Manfred Kielnhofer
Alan Weisman: The World Without Us
Poetic Yet Terrifying: Post-Apocalyptic Art by Christophe Dessaigne
Legendary Lost City of Atlantis “Found” in Southern Spain