edit: Personenrohrpost How fitting.
> Mead worked with major studios on the feature films: Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Blade Runner, Tron, 2010, Short Circuit, Aliens, The Spirit of '76, Timecop, Johnny Mnemonic, Mission: Impossible III, Elysium, Tomorrowland and Blade Runner 2049. George Lucas created the AT-AT for his Star Wars saga based on art by Mead.
This is in no way to diminish his work, but the impression I got (and that I'm trying to confirm/debunk, given the wikipedia article doesn't really address this) is that his art really transposes the society of its time into the future. That is, he almost exclusively addresses the technological advancement, while keeping the societal structures largely intact. For example, that's why the retrofitted houses give the impression of still being inhabited largely by working class people, while the ski resort and leisure time imagery with the sports cars still seems to be a luxury only few can afford even in the future. I don't see signs of "fully automated luxury space communism" there.
This may be me projecting though, hence the question if this is correct.
And again, this is not to take away from his work. They are stunning. :)
Looks like it to me too. Which is probably far more realistic than all the "society will radically change thanks to technology" takes. In the last 70 years we've seen technological advances we couldn't have dreamed off yet society is in most parts still the same as it was back then. Sure, progress has been made, but not as much as many scifi writers hoped for.
No one imagined Facebook and Twitter or even Microsoft and Apple. But also no one imagined gay rights and other progressive changes, or the general change in social register and emotional tone.
What hasn't changed much is - ironically - movies and science fiction itself. All the old 50s tropes - superheroes, militarism, mutant superpowers, apocalyptic alien evil, sentient robots - are still around today, although sometimes with more of a dystopian slant than was usual back then. And with much better visual FX.
It's not so much that retrofuturism is a thing, it's more that neither SF nor tech ever really outgrew it. There's been no shockingly unexpected and mind-expanding culture of neo-futurism to replace it. (Yet.)
by Brad Cox (inventor of Objective C) and David Gelertner (CS professor and entrepreneur).
I guess you could make Retrofuturistic software now by writing modern versions of those old ideas (which didn't turn out to be economically feasible / adopted, at least in the exact form predicted, although in some cases they were influential.)
This was one of the blogs I enjoyed, have not kept up with it:
Matt Novak moved to Gizmodo a while back: https://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/
Did not know he had that site as an archive.
First is the original tomorrowland, a future of rocketships, futuristic cars.
Next came EPCOT of the 1970s on the heels of Earth Day and environmental sensibilities.
Then both tomorrowland and EPCOT were reburbished with a future of computers and videao games.
Most recently it is the Star Wars experience "long ago and far away" another blast from the 1970s.
> Something — a character design, a building, anything — used to be someone's idea of futuristic. Nowadays though, it ironically has a quaint sort of datedness to it more reminiscent of the era the work came from
For example, a science fiction show from the 50s showing a video phone with a rotary dial.
It is almost impossible to see the now, we are too close to focus. My favorite in tech is that someone is porting from a legacy system. No that isn't how it works, you port from a legacy system to a future-legacy system. Be timeless and love your future self.
your comment resonates with the thesis that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism—that our inability to imagine and provision for the future, is the death of our imagination, of our transcendence, and the world.
I like your take on it, that love has to point in every direction of time, timeless.
They were right (albeit about 15 years off) about many major things: Home automation, shopping and talking over the internet, a lot of work being automated away, the psychological issues these innovations cause ...
Sadly they were also wrong about many of the great things that should've happened by now. Space exploration has barely progressed (damn, I'm glad SpaceX exists!) and we still don't care nearly enough about our environment/quality of life to have electric vehicles and good local transit.
It's weird to see that so many of the things going on today were so predictable. It paints a concering picture of our future.
The genesis of that world is interesting enough too: a post-apocalyptic world which mixes the old and the new out of necessity, rather than a deliberate desire to model things on the past.
What almost nobody predicted is that information would become practically free thanks to the internet....
Others do create / conceptualize "new" futures, though I would add that a lot of this is a metaphor for big-picture ideas and general creativity drawn from the yet-unknown, which are then birthed into the present (the future present ;-)). These people have a tough job to do, because audiences like HN share the tech space with them, but tend to be relentlessly critical of wild new ideas at the same time. We are that retro-future crowd that's short on (or generally annoyed by) new ideas, many of us.
e.g. rotary telephones were designed because that was the only option to dial numbers; but someone might find that kind of telephone to be nice today because of the user experience (just a wild example) and they could be made today but with IC's etc.
People always imagined the future full of flying cars because cars and planes were the big thing so the combination must also be big. But nobody really imagined "social networks" 100 years ago, which are way bigger now than flying cars. They had no indication that this could possibly be a thing, at least not in their current form. We imagined/had forums and all sorts of communities but not really close to the current idea of social media.
Smartphones and climate change crisis was predicted many times, but who predicted transsexual rights would become a divisive political issue in the US?
More art than actual tech, and most of the tech is one-off hand-built stuff.
70s/80s would be Cassette Futurism and Sythwave.
Also interesting to note the two non-distinct forms of retrofuturism: "the future as seen from the past" and "the past as seen from the future". Steampunk is an example of the latter.
Or maybe a world where technology is futuristic but the societal structure is from the past. Warhammer 40k, the Roman empire but in space.