51 Fascinating Depictions Of How People In The Past Envisioned The Future
Retrofuturism is the past’s vision of the future — that is, it’s what the people of yesterday thought today would look like.
These visions run the gamut from charmingly naïve and amusingly ambitious to alarmingly accurate, and they’ve inspired a movement in the present as artists, designers, musicians, and filmmakers channel the technological dreams of a bygone age.
The term “retrofuturism” is a relatively recent one. It appeared in the wake of the technological advances of the ’70s and ’80s, when science made enormous strides — but not always in the directions that the inhabitants of the early 20th century had anticipated. The dreams of the past began to look quaint and implausible in a way that many found nostalgic.
It makes sense that retrofuturism as a genre rose to popularity at the same time as dystopian science fiction and fantasy were garnering renewed interest. As the future was beginning to look like a stranger, scarier place than it once had, a new enthusiasm emerged for the sometimes comically rosy predictions of previous generations.
Today, retrofuturism is on the rise. While previous decades have seen the movement confined to cult classics, its themes and iconic looks are becoming increasingly mainstream. The Incredibles director Brad Bird cited retrofuturism as one of his influences, and it’s not hard to see retro sensibilities in the look of the Pixar classic.
Video games have also taken an interest, notably the popular BioShock series, which was influenced, according to designer Ken Levine, in part by retrofuturistic works like George Orwell’s 1984.
It’s enough to make you wonder — what will the generations of tomorrow think when they look back on our visions of the future? What will they think about our dreams?