I've been hearing and reading lots about the near future and atemporality recently - what the web is perpetuating and how writers and designers aren't really thinking so big anymore, not thinking so out there. I think it's half true. And I do think it's a problem. The whole, we have magic screens and semi-inteligent computation is only the physical bit not the emotional bit. The dream bit.
In the early 1900s the Italian and French art communities went a bit potty for Futurism. It was all speed, industrial power, progress, launching our species forward at all costs at breakneck speed. While I clearly wasn't there, looking at collected material it looked like it was exciting. Those artists playing off the industrial revolution and the change that was happening around them. Do we still have this the future, lets strive for it mentality? I'm not sure.
I saw a documentary recently (which I can't find now) where Aaron Rose suggested that all we've been doing for the last 10 years is remixing the cultures from the previous decades. Not creating anything really interesting.
While remixing is still interesting, we're not breaking new ground, we're turning over already broken soil. And this seems to be consistantly speeding up. Of course there are inspirational fringe activities happening in culture but I'm mainly refferring to the stuff that breaks the surface.
It's like building something and only reaching for the bricks that are near you. Not even considering designing a new brick. And I'm not just talking about physical things I'm talking ideas - system ideas - different approaches. And yes there are lots of blogs surfacing bits and pieces, prototypes and the like but it's not hitting the mainstream much.
Throughout the 20th century we marvelled at our brilliance, communication, vaccines, travel, the moon, computers, and so on. We dreamed of video calling, robots and jet packs. Those future vision books everyone grew up with were for everyone. They were exciting. The future was exciting. We were always looking forward. James Bridle wrote a while back:
“The problem is not that we don’t have jetpacks, but that no one is writing about jetpacks.”
And I think this is partially true. I think we've almost confused ourselves over what future is. Right now people are growing buildings in seawater. We have very impressive dexterous robot hands and exoskeletons that can make us super human. Lots of our constructs for what future is seem to have arrived. The problem was that we got hung up on the old ideas and didn't invent new ones.
The present seems to be enabling our old notion of future at an incredible rate. The immediate now is currently very accessible and dominant. Real time digital social media such as Facebook and Twitter distract us terribly. We desperately try to keep up with the now and don't sit back and dream enough. And because of this I feel we are blinkering ourselves to possibilities.
where are the dream machines?
I think some people are thinking about the future but I think they're not given the media space they once had because our technology is now moving faster than our ideas. Our now is so incredible that the future seems less important, somehow. Several people have suggested this and I think they're right.
The opinion seems to be that, our future used be sexy because the present wasn't. Now that the present is sexy the future is not. I think that's wrong.
Content production has become so easy, we're overdosing on it. And it's 99% awful. I fear that the pressure to view all this unnecessary content is preventing us sitting back and dreaming of tomorrow. Instead, we are merely catching up with now. These tools of mass distraction such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube maybe changing business and behaviour but they're really not interesting compared with the other things that are being made / dreamt up.
I think it's time to dream for the sake of dreaming again. To make dreaming sexy again.