What is retrofuturism? It’s the future as imagined in the past, usually through illustration. And it is priceless!
I love it for two reasons:
- It’s interesting to see what were considered improvements to the standard of living—sometimes they weren’t too far off!
- It’s nice to see they typically had a lot of faith in what we could accomplish—sometimes they were really far off!
Usually it’s a quirky mix of the contemporary norm and the fantastic.
A lot of retrofuturism was produced between the 1930s-1950s. During the Great Depression it provided an escape to a better world, something to look forward to, and post-World War II, it rode the wave of actual technological advances. We believed anything was possible back then!
This is one of my favorites! A little FaceTime circa 1930? I love that they have a personal aircraft parked in the background, a common theme—everyone will have their own flying machine.
This one is later, from the ‘50s or ‘60s, and again, not too far off: Google has been talking about developing a car that drives itself, and there are cars currently on the market that parallel park with limited input from the driver.
Another good one: this dashboard looks very similar to cars on the market now. I wonder what they imagined the information on the screen to be conveying? Apparently not GPS, rear-view camera or radio. I’m also curious about the need to reconfigure the road lanes!
Buildings would get so tall that we would have layers and layers of roads. Come on, Boston is confusing enough as it is!
Or perhaps the streets will go completely underground…between the auto fumes (these must be electric vehicles) and the spiral escalators this scenario would likely make me sick! HA!
The following are from a series of illustrations that came in French candy wrappers in the 1950s…
Talk about a super-highway…is this road spanning the Mediterranean Sea?
And of course space travel will be commonplace.
Looking farther back (and further forward from the artists’ perspective) is this remarkable series of German postcards from 1900, depicting the year 2000. Here are my favs:
These moving pavements don’t seem to have much purpose…perhaps they are like the conveyor belts in airports?
Apparently, in the year 2000 anyone can walk on water!
Take that Leonardo DaVinci!
Controlling the weather…
Crime-fighting x-ray machines!
I highly recommend you check out the sources below—such fun! When surfing the web for this topic, be aware there are present-day artists that work in this genre, making new-old visions of the future. Just pointing that out…not everything that looks old is old as we know!
I just might be on the lookout for retrofuturism pieces as I hit the antique scene this summer and fall. If I find any I’ll certainly share them!
What do you think? Do you find these illustrations to be funny, sad…just interesting? Have you your own vision of what the future will bring? Share in the comments below or over on Facebook!
1950’s-60’s Driving Concepts:
33 Amazing Concepts About Future Transportation: Past & Present, http://www.ridebuzz.org/retro_future_transportation, accessed June 11, 2016.
All These Moments Will Be Lost in Time, http://recordssoundthesame.com/blog/2015/09/26/all-these-moments-will-be-lost-in-time/, accessed June 11, 2016.
1950’s Chocolate Wrappers:
French Retro Futurism As Told By 1950s Chocolate Wrappers, http://www.messynessychic.com/2016/05/10/french-retro-futurism-as-told-by-1950s-chocolate-wrappers/, accessed June 11, 2016.
The Gloriously Unrealistic Atompunk Mega City, https://steampunkopera.wordpress.com/tag/retro-futurism/, accessed June 11, 2016.
1900’s German Postcards:
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900), http://paleofuture.com/blog/2007/4/24/postcards-show-the-year-2000-circa-1900.html, accessed June 11, 2016.