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robertogreco : retrofuturism   7

The Y2K aesthetic: who knew the look of the year 2000 would endure? | Technology | The Guardian
"In the year 2000, a shiny new millennium spread out before us, glittering with the promises of modern technology.

The angsty 1990s were behind us, the dotcom bubble was swelling and yet to come was the market bust and “war on terror”. Y2K – the supposed turn-of-the-century bug that would bring our infrastructure to a terrifying halt – had failed to materialise and for a brief moment there was nothing but glittering utopian futurism and faith in a new age of boundless possibility.

This brief moment was characterised by a distinct aesthetic period, encapsulating fashion, hardware design, music and furnishings shiny with tech optimism – sometimes literally.

Synthetic or metallic-looking materials, inflatable furniture, moon-boot footwear and alien-inspired hairstyles were just a few signposts of the spirit of the age. Even popular music videos of the time had a cluster of common traits: shiny clothes, frosty hues, setpieces that resembled airlocks or computer interfaces, and a briefly omnipresent “bubble pop” sound effect -– almost as if the music charts could foretell the end of the dotcom age."



"Studying aesthetics is about more than the pleasant itch of nostalgia – it can efficiently provide a full, in-depth picture of a time period, its values, its media and technology. “The sharing, discussion and experimentation I’ve seen in the Facebook group has fostered a deeper understanding and appreciation of that era than some other online subcultures, which sometimes get stuck on a few highly circulated memes and entertaining novelties,” Collins says.

“The fact that we constantly have in-depth discussions … helps us to understand the ‘why’ better, and artists gain a better understanding of the zeitgeist. We are adding something new, reacting in a meaningful way. It touches on a certain aspect of our shared culture and humanity.”

Perhaps in the future people will be able to suss out the threads of American election anxiety, global refugee crisis, or the dark comedy of Silicon Valley culture in the music, architecture and design of today. Do the streamlined, android-inspired fashion trends seen at the 2016 Met Gala point to an imminent boom for cybernetics, virtual reality and AI? What will the aesthetics of this period of time look like with a decade’s hindsight – and what might they reveal about us that we can’t see in the present?"

[See also: https://imgur.com/a/NGU9j ]
y2kaesthetic  webrococo  2016  2000s  aesthetics  retrofuturism  leighalexander  web  internet  technology  dotcombubble  siliconvalley  metgala 
may 2016 by robertogreco
No one cares about your jetpack: on optimism in futurism - Dangerous to those who profit from the way things areDangerous to those who profit from the way things are
"This review [http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/tomorrowland-is-like-watching-a-jetpack-eat-itself-1706822006 ] of Disney’s Tomorrowland (and others like it that I have read) got me thinking about something I was asked at the Design In Action summit last week in Edinburgh. I was there participating in the “Once Upon a Future” event, where I read a story called “The Dreams in the Bitch House.” It’s about a tech sorority at a small New England university. And programmable matter.

After I did my keynote and read my story, I did a Q&A. After a few questions, someone in the audience asked: “Why so negative?”

I get this question a lot. I’ve been involved in a couple of “optimistic” science fiction anthologies, namely Shine (edited by Jetse de Vries) and Hieroglyph (edited by Kathryn Cramer and Ed Finn). But people don’t invite me to these because I’m an optimistic person. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. Evidence:

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InDOzrtS42M ]

When I was trained as a futurist (I have a Master’s in the subject), I was taught to see the whole scope of a problem. That’s at the root of design thinking. The old joke about designers is that when someone asks how many designers you need to change a lightbulb, the designer asks “Does it need to be a lightbulb?” Because really, what the room needs is a window. When people talk about innovation, that’s what they mean. A re-framing of the issue that helps you see the whole problem and approach it from another angle.

America’s problem is not that it needs more jetpacks. Jetpacks are not innovation. Jetpacks are a fetish object for retrofuturist otaku who jerked off to Judy Jetson, or maybe Jennifer Connelly’s character in The Rocketeer. “We were promised jetpacks!” they whine. Yeah, dude, but what you got was Agent Orange. Imagine a Segway that could kill you and set your house on fire. That’s what a jetpack is.

Jetpacks solve exactly one problem: rapid transit. And you know what would help with that? Better transit. Better telepresence. Better work-life balance. Are jetpacks an innovative solution to the problem of transit? Nope. But they sure look great with your midlife crisis.

But railing against jetpacks isn’t an answer to the question. Why so negative? Three reasons:

1) We have more data than we used to, and we’re obtaining more all the time.

Why don’t we fantasize about life in space like we used to? Because we know it’s really fucking difficult and dangerous. Why don’t we research things like food pills any more? Because we know eating fibre helps prevent colon cancer. We know those things because we’ve done the science. The data is there, and for every piece of technology we use, we accumulate more. It’s hard to argue with that vast wealth of data. At least, it’s hard to do so without looking like some whackjob climate change denier.

2) Less optimistic futures have the power to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

When people ask me, “Why can’t you be more positive?” what I hear is, “Why can’t you tell me a story that conforms to my narrative and comforts me?” Because discomfiting futures have real power. As Alf Rehn notes:
What we need, then, is more uncommon futurism. A futurism that cares not a whit about what’s hot right now, who remain stoically unimpressed by drones and wearable IT, and who instead take it as their job to shock and awe CEOs with visions as radical as those of the futurists of yore. We need futurism that is less interested in agreeing with contemporary futurists and their ongoing circle-jerk, and who takes pride in offending and disgusting those futurists who would like to protect the status quo.


The truth is that the horrible dystopia you’re reading about is already happening to someone else, somewhere else. What makes people nervous is the idea that it could happen to them. That’s why I have to keep sharing it.

3) The most harmful idea in this world is that change is impossible.

Octavia E. Butler said it best: “The only lasting truth / is Change.” And yet, we act like change is impossible. Whether we’re frustrated by policy gridlock, or rolling our eyes at Hollywood reboots, or taking our spouses on the same goddamn date we have for for twenty years, we act as though everything will remain the same, forever and ever, amen. But look around you. Twenty years ago, thinks were very different. Even five years ago, they were different. Look at social progress like gay marriage. Look at the rise of solar power. Look at the shrinking of the ice caps. Things do change, they are changing, and they will change. And not all of those changes will be positive. Not all of them will be negative, either. But change does occur. Rather than thinking of change as a positive or a negative, as utopian or dystopian, just recognize that it’s going to happen and prepare yourself. Futurists don’t predict the future. We see multiple outcomes and help you prepare for them.

In the end, the lacklustre performance of Tomorrowland at the box office has nothing to do with whether optimism is alive or dead. It has to do with changing demographics among moviegoers who know how to spot an Ayn Rand bedtime story when they see one. There are whole generations of moviegoers for whom jetpacks don’t mean shit, whose first memories of NASA are the Challenger disaster. And you know what? Those same generations believe in driverless cars, solar energy, smart cities, AR contacts, and vat-grown meat. They saw the election of America’s first black president, and they witnessed a wave of violence against young black men. They don’t want the depiction of an “optimistic” future. They want a future where their concerns are taken seriously and humanely, with compassion and intelligence and validation. And that’s way harder than optimism."
culture  future  futurism  discourse  madelineashby  2015  tomorrowland  alfrehn  dystopia  octaviabutler  optimism  pessimism  realism  demographics  aynrand  race  establishment  privilege  drones  wearables  power  innovation  jetpacks  telepresence  transit  transportation  work  labor  scifi  sciencefiction  systemsthinking  data  retrofuturism  climatechange  space  food  science  technology  change  truth  socialprogress  progress  solar  solarpower  validation  compassion  canon  work-lifebalance 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Space Age: A Game of Space Adventure for iOS and Mac
"Space Age is a game of cosmic adventure. Set in the retro-futuristic sci-fi world of 1976, it follows a small but determined band of intergalactic explorers who land on a seemingly uninhabited planet, Kepler-16. They soon discover there’s something both strange and familiar about this alien place…

Space Age is a graphic adventure in the vein of 1990s classics, reimagined for the new millennium and its amazing mobile devices. Told in grand cinematic style, orchestrally scored, and filled with drama, humor, and nostalgia, it's a golden-age science-fiction story come to immersive life."

[See also: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/space-age-a-cosmic-adventure/id92238026/ ]
games  gaming  ios  edg  srg  2014  1990s  1976  retrofuturism  videogames 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Notes from my FooCamp 2014 session: “All of this has happened before and will happen again” | Magical Nihilism
"The session I staged at FooCamp this year was deliberately meant to be a fun, none-too-taxing diversion at the end of two brain-baking days.

It was based on (not only a quote from BSG) but something that Matt Biddulph had said to me a while back – possibly when we were doing some work together at BERG, but it might have been as far-back as our Dopplr days.

He said (something like) that a lot of the machine learning techniques he was deploying on a project were based on 1970s Computer Science theory, but now the horsepower required to run them was cheap and accessible in the form of cloud computing service.

This stuck with me, so for the Foo session I hoped I could aggregate a list people’s favourite theory work from the 20thC which now might be possible to turn into practice.

It didn’t quite turn out that way, as Tom Coates pointed out in the session – about halfway through, it morphed into a list of the “prior art” in both fiction and academic theory that you could identify as pre-cursors to current technological preoccupation or practice.

Nether the less it was a very fun way to spend an sunny sunday hour in a tent with a flip chart and some very smart folks. Thanks very much as always to O’Reilly for inviting me.

Below is my photo of the final flip charts full of everything from Xanadu to zeppelins…"

[See also: https://medium.com/product-club/interacting-with-a-world-of-connected-objects-875b4a099099 ]
mattjones  design  futurism  2014  foocamp  retrofuturism  excavatingthepast  tomcoates  mattbiddulph  recyclingideas  ideas  theory  thetimeisright  timing  readiness  zeppelins  dirigibles 
june 2014 by robertogreco
L.A. 2013 - Documents - Los Angeles Times
"On April 3, 1988, the Los Angeles Times Magazine pub­lished a 25-year look ahead to 2013. This year, USC pro­fess­or Jerry Lock­en­our is us­ing the series of art­icles in a gradu­ate en­gin­eer­ing class he teaches."
history  losangeles  futurism  future  retrofuturism  1988 
august 2013 by robertogreco
How to be a Retronaut
"Would you like to go back in time? Guess what, you can. Yes, I know, I know. But you don’t actually need a time-machine to do it. You need to be a Retronaut."
time  history  retrofuturism  blogs 
february 2010 by robertogreco

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