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Worldwide Futures
Alex Steffen, 15 Nov 04

The future is a country of a darkness and sunshine: we tend to project extremes into the future, utopian possibilities or terriblisma-tic apocalypses. And when change accelerates, our insecurities about and longings for the future grow stronger. Given that imagining the future well gives us the ability to better see the true nature of the present, understanding how others are looking (or once looked) over the horizon is extremely useful to worldchangers.

In that spirit, here's a few interesting visions of the future I've come across recently:

The documentary Sotsgorod: Cities For Utopia tells the stories of international teams of architects (with names like "Autonomous International Colony Kuzbass" and "Bauhaus Brigade") brought into the U.S.S.R. in the late 1920s to build huge socialist cities of the future in the wilds of Siberia, and the fates that befell them under Stalin. Haven't seen it yet, but it's on my list.

Inverted Utopias: as Jim Regan writes in CSM, "Between 1920 and 1970, a Latin American avant-garde movement promoted the belief that artistic works could present possibilities for a form of utopia, and function as a pattern for an improved society." (It's a flash exhibition, but pretty cool).

Fortune-telling is the fatest-growing industry in India: "Elderly bare-torsoed men sitting under trees? Parrots picking cards spread out on the pavement? Well-thumbed palmistry primers from Cheiro? Wake up, smell the coffee. We are talk-ing call centres crammed with clairvoyants forecasting for those with the mobiles and the mind to ring in. R&D labs where newer software, to help the computer calculate horoscopes more accurately, are in perpetual make. University-affiliated classes crowded with wannabe oracles. Swank seminars in posh hotels, where delegates who refer to themselves as jyotishpandits, jyotishacharyas and jyotishmartands make Powerpoint presentations of their prognoses. Television studios continuously beaming into homes what the planets have in store. Astrologers, palmists, numerologists, tarot-card readers fronted by sleek public relations executives."

Finally, The Chairman Smiles an incredible collection of propaganda posters from before and during the Cultural Revolution depicting the bright future awaiting China under Communism (including the illustration above "Becoming More Prosperous Every Day").

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Um . . .

Am I the only one who sees a eerie vibe between some of these posters and paperback fantasy novel cover art?

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 15 Nov 04

Kitsch Utopianism?

Posted by: Emily on 16 Nov 04



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