What did people think our time was going to be like? Studying concept art, architecture, and history we get something totally cool: retrofuturism – our ancient scifi future.
As we explore the future through science fiction, it’s valuable to see our present through the lens of the past. Retrofuturism is a valuable part of that lens, and I incorporate RF elements in Mesh. Every science fiction fan should be familiar with retrofuturism. Let’s dive down the rabbit hole together. Inside, we find an infinite universe of creativity spanning people, places and things.
RetroFuturism All Over the World
First, the top picture here is something I’ve talked about before: the Wuppertal Suspension Railway. The monorail looks like a steampunk fantasy, but it’s completely real. You can even watch a Youtube video of the journey!
Next in America, you can see examples of retrofuturism browsing back issues of Popular Mechanics. One piece of retrofuturism I’d love to own as a poster is Verticalville – a newspaper concept cartoon of what they thought skyscrapers would look like in the future. Sadly, it only lives on as a jigsaw puzzle. Let me know if you find a poster – I’d love to get one!
After that, we see another example: these Soviet futuristic buildings. Russia has traditionally been comfortable with wild architecture, expressive public art, and bold urban planning. Even somber places like a crematorium were opportunities to create provocative art.
Some projects never materialized. The Palace of the Soviets was a *massive* project dreamed up by the Congress of the Soviets. Construction was terminated by the German invasion. Nonetheless, the project’s concept art is breathtaking. You can kill a few hours wondering what life would have been like if the Palace was actually built. Other parts of the world have their own retrofuturism to discuss. Check out this RF-inspiring picture of a Japanese hovercraft.
What Did You Learn?
As I said at the outset, studying retrofuturism is valuable for any scifi fan. It allows us to see our present through the lens of the past. What did people think our lives were going to be like? Did they get the details right? Did they get them wrong?
There are deeper questions, too. Where did the dreams take the dreamers? Did those dreams, that imagination, result in a good outcome? If we dream that big, what happens? Do we miss small, important details?
I hope you find this discussion about retrofuturism and our ancient scifi future to be valuable. Dream big, dream small. Whatever you do, know that you’re tapping into a fun, beautiful universe. Go exploring!