Retrofuturism: How Yesterday viewed Tomorrow

Starting at a Hacker News thread on Retrofuturism, I spent a good part of the morning following the crumbs on this seemingly endless internet trail. To begin with, here’s Wikipedia:

Retrofuturism (adjective retrofuturistic or retrofuture) is a movement in the creative arts showing the influence of depictions of the future produced in an earlier era. If futurism is sometimes called a “science” bent on anticipating what will come, retrofuturism is the remembering of that anticipation. Characterized by a blend of old-fashioned “retro styles” with futuristic technology, retrofuturism explores the themes of tension between past and future, and between the alienating and empowering effects of technology.

Bruce McCall, whose work you may have seen on New Yorker covers, gave this charming talk in 2008:

There’s an entire issue of The Appendix about “about how past generations have reckoned their collective futures”:

Several pieces in this issue suggest that we should study the futures of the past not simply because they’re quaint or charming, but because they show us that even our most confident predictions can go wrong.

There’s this delightful gallery on retrofuturism, with illustrations featuring things “from family flying saucer rides to domestic living on the lunar surface”.

And there’s the Paleofuture blog, “where we explore past visions of the future. From flying cars and jetpacks to utopias and dystopias.”

I could go on, and so can you. Before you begin, think again: the future of your past will rob your present.