The Techno-Futurist Century (Part B)


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Produced for the Bachelor of New Media Arts core subject: NM1000 Introduction to New Media. The course provides an overview of communication technologies and art production in the 20th century.

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The Techno-Futurist Century (Part B)

  1. 1. Introduc)on  to  New  Media   NM1000    |    Townsville   1909  -­‐  2009   A  Techno-­‐Futurist  Century    II  
  2. 2. To  New  Horizons  |  General  Motors    Futurama  Exhibi)on  |    1939  
  3. 3. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society  
  4. 4. “ Some)mes  at  night  I  lie  awake  in  the  dark  and  try  to  recapture  the  vision  and   the  sound  of  The  World  of  Tomorrow.   I  try  to  remember  how  the  pastel  ligh)ng  glowed  on  Mad  Meadow  in  Flushing:   soT   greens,   orange,   yellow   and   red;   blue   moonglow   on   the   great   Perisphere   and  on  the  ghostly  soaring  Trylon.     I  think  with  a  sense  of  sweetened  pain  of  nights  when  I  sat  by  Flushing  River   and   saw   The   World   of   Tomorrow   reflected   on   its   onyx   surface,   in   full   colour,   and  upside  down...”   Meyer  Berger  |  speaking  a;er  The  New  York  World’s  Fair  |  1940    
  5. 5. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   The   World’s   Fair     was   once   a   hugely   significant   event,   the   right   to   host   it   fiercely   contested,   the   sense   of   technological   crystal   balls   and   cultural   exchange  omnipresent.     The   World’s   Fair   came   to   a   reconsMtuted   plot   of   land  in  upstate  New  York  in  1939.     Like  the  Paris  Fair  (1937)  before  it  -­‐    which  hosted   such  significant  events  (in  hindsight,  at  least)  as  the   hanging   of   Picasso’s   Guernica,   and   the   foreboding   cultural  face-­‐off  between  Russia  and  Germany  -­‐  the   New  York  World’s  Fair  of    1939/1940  was  to  be  like   no  other.   NY  World’s  Fair    |    Nembhard  Culin    |    1939  
  6. 6. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   Arriving   at   the   outset   of   WWII,   the   Fair   of   ‘39   was   a  naMonalisMc  display  of  democracy,  technological   achievement   and   naMonalisMc   pride,   designed   to   li;   America   out   of   the   dust   bowl   of   the   Great   Depression.     "The   Fair   will   dramaMcally   display   the   most   promising   developments   of   ideas,   products,   services   and   social   factors   of   the   present   day   in   such   a   fashion   that   the   visitor   may   gain   a   vision   of   what   he   might   a^ain   for   himself   and   for   his   community   by   intelligence   and   cooperaMve   planning.“         Grover  Whalen,  NY  World’s  Fair  president   NY  World’s  Fair    |  Nembhard  Culin  |    1939  
  7. 7. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   The   ‘39   World’s   Fair   introduced   a   vast   area   of   significant    “futurisMc”  developments  which  would   become  an  intrinsic  part  of  post  war  America  :     Television   Photo  copier   Pre-­‐prepared  frozen  foods   Vocal  synthesiser   Washing  machine   Air  Condi)oning     And   enthusiasMc   appearances   by   Superman   in   his   first  public  ouMng,  President  Roosevelt  the  author   of   the   New   Deal,   Albert   Einstein   the   inventor   of   the   atom   bomb   and   science   ficMon   author   HG   Wells.       Superman    |    Ray  Middleton    |      1939   Television  Launch  |    RCA|   1939  
  8. 8. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   Unlike   the   quaint   tourist   trade   fair   feel   of     Brisbane’s   Expo   88,   our   modest   Australian     equivalent,   the   World’s   Fair  of  1939  took  on  ‘mythic’  proporMons       Slogans  which  were  used  to  market  the  event  included:     “Fair  of  the  Future”   “The  World  of  Tomorrow”   “Dawn  of  a  New  Day”     “It   was   more   than   a   collecMon   of   exhibits;   it   was   a   wellspring   of   innovaMon   in   corporate   idenMty   and   promoMon.”        (Heller  &  Pomeroy,  1997)   NY  World’s  Fair    |    1939  
  9. 9. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   In  fact  the  World’s  Fair  of  1939  was  a  predetermined  plan   by   key   players   among   America’s   wealthiest   corporaMons   to   li;   the   country   out   of   the   depression   era   and   signal   their   mastery   of   modernist   design   and   demonstrate   the   possibiliMes  of  20th  century  urban  Utopias.     This   marriage   between   naMonal   idenMty   and   markeMng   -­‐   consumer   culture   –   was   built   around   the   proliferaMon   of   consumer   goods   developed   by   America’s   leading   corporaMons  who  exhibited  alongside  naMon  states  :     General  Motors   Wes)nghouse   Chrysler   RCA   AT&T   NY  World’s  Fair    |    1939  
  10. 10. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   In   many   ways   this   signalled   the   beginning   of   the   corporaMsaMon   of   contemporary   life   –   and   in   a   sense  the  birth  of  a  world  wide  movement  lead  by   the   West   to   blend   domesMcity   with   technological   progression.     In   an   eerily   similar   manner   to   which   conferences,   swap   meets,   culture   fesMvals,   trade   shows   and   industry   events   are   dominated   by   corporaMons   today,     this   event   was   bank   rolled   by   these   large   American  corporaMons.     These   corporaMons   invested   heavily   in   designing   this  vision  in  which  the  consumer  was  at  the  centre   of  this  technological  revoluMon.     Elektro  Robot      |    Wes)nghouse  Corpora)on    |    1939  
  11. 11. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   Leave  It  to  Roll-­‐Oh  |  Wes)nghouse  Corpora)on  |    1939  
  12. 12. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   The   Middleton   Family   Visit   the   World’s   Fair   (Snody,  1939)       As   their   name   suggests,   the   Middletons   are   designed  to  represent  the  middle  class  response   to  the  Fair's  imagined  future  of  consumables  and   social  improvement.       The   film   is   classic   corporate   spin.   The  Middletons   visit   the   Fair,   but   they   only   tour   the   WesMnghouse  Building.     The  film  is  designed  to  enthrall  the  Middletons  –   and   therefore   the   audience   –   with   the   wonders   of  an  electrified  future  of  capitalist  America.     The  Middleton  Family  Visit  the  World’s  Fair    |   Wes)nghouse  Corpora)on    |    1939  
  13. 13. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   While   the   film   follows   the   adventures   of   the   family   as   they   visit   various   WesMnghouse   exhibits,   the   plot   focuses   on   the   romanMc  struggles  of  Babs,  a  fresh-­‐faced  college  student  who   must   decide   whether   she'll   marry   her   hometown   beau,   Jim   Treadway,  or  the  European  slickster,  Nicholas  Makaroff.       More   than   offering   two   different   paths   toward   Babs'   heart,   both   suitors   represent   ideologically   opposing   antudes   toward   industrializaMon   and   progress   as   imagined   by   WesMnghouse.     It   is   a   classic   simplificaMon   of   western   propaganda   –   Marxism   and   Abstract   Art   (ie   not   to   be   trusted)   versus   homespun   values  and  corporate  servitude  (warm,  safe  and  prosperous).     “In   the   film,   Babs'   roman?c   struggle   illustrates   the   conflict   between   capitalism   and   communism   as   imagined   by   Wes?nghouse”.    (Wood,  SJSU)   The  Middleton  Family  Visit  the  World’s  Fair   Wes)nghouse  Corpora)on    |    1939  
  14. 14. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   Not  to  be  out  done,  GM  Motors  sponsored  the  not  so  subtle,   Democracity,  the  Fair’s  central  exhibit.       Designed   by   industrial   designer   Henry   Dreyfuss,     this   was   to   be  a  truly  futurist  project  which  projected  a  vision  of  American   life  in  2039.     The   Utopian   city   was   called   Centron.   It   featured   richly   gardened   communiMes   called   Pleasantvilles   and   satellite   commercial   districts   surrounded   by   farms   and   green   belts   called  Millvilles.         All  of  this  was  linked  by  a  modern  streamlined  transportaMon   network  of  highways  and  parkways.     As  the  chairman  of  the  fair’s  design  team    declared  :    “This  not   a   vague   dream   of   a   life   that   might   be   lived   in   the   far   future,   but  one  that  could  be  lived  tomorrow  morning  if  we  willed  it  to   be  so.”  (Robert  Kohn)       NY  World’s  Fair    |  Albert  Staehle  |  1939  
  15. 15. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   To  New  Horizons  |  General  Motors    Futurama  Exhibi)on  |    1939  
  16. 16. The  Future   Designing  a  Vision  of  Society   Democracity  aside,  NY  WF  provided  a  plarorm  for  the   execuMon  of  a  modern  futurist  design  aestheMc  which   would  dominate  American  life  for  the  best  part  of  a   century:     Domes)c  life     Transporta)on     Architecture  as  expression     The  explora)on  of  space     Military  technology     The  func)on  of  the  human  form     World’s  Fair  Comics    |    1939  
  17. 17. The  Designer   Designing  the  Everyday  
  18. 18. The  Designer   Designing  the  Everyday   At   the   centre   of   all   of   this   was   the   industrial   designer   Henry   Dreyfuss,   whose   exploraMon   of   such   design   aestheMcs   as   streamline   and   pracMcal   approaches   ergonomics   would   shape   much  of  the  next  50  years.     The   origins   of   his   modern   futurist   design   aestheMc   and   the   accompanying   pragmaMcs   of   naMon   building   which   underpinned   the   NY   World   Fair   of   1939   can   be   seen   even   today   in   contemporary  American  culture.   J3  Hudsons  |    Dreyfuss    |    1938  
  19. 19. The  Designer   Designing  the  Everyday   "If   the   point   of   contact   between   the   product   and   the   people   becomes   a   point   of   fricMon,   then  the  industrial  designer  has  failed.       If,  on  the  other  hand,  people  are  made  safer,   more   comfortable,   more   eager   to   purchase,   more   efficient,   or   just   plain   happier,   the   designer  has  succeeded."           -­‐    Henry  Dreyfuss   Henry  Dreyfuss  
  20. 20. The  Designer   Designing  the  Everyday   John  Deer  Tractor    |  1939   Honeywell  Thermometer  |  1952  
  21. 21. The  Designer   Designing  the  Everyday   Ma  Bell's  Princess  Phone    |    1937   Ingraham  co.  'SenMnel  Wafer'  electric     wall  clock      |    1952  
  22. 22. The  Designer   Designing  the  Everyday   Hughes  500    Helicopter    |    Circa.  1950   J3  Hudsons  |  1938  
  23. 23. The  Designer   Designing  the  Everyday   Thermos  Pitchers  (Model  549)    |    1935    The  American  Thermos  bo^le  co.    |    1937  
  24. 24. The  Computer   Designing  the  Personal  Future  
  25. 25. The  Computer   Designing  the  Personal  Future   In   1983   Apple   launched   their   new   breed   of   personal  computers.     The   Apple   Macintosh   was   setup   as   a   direct   compeMtor   with   similar   technologies   being   developed  by  IBM.     However   in   a   strange   twist   of   markeMng,   Apple   used   a   Dystopian   vision   of   the   future   to   counter   the  hegemony  of  IBM.       They   Ridley   Sco^,   the   director   of   the   1982   film   Bladerunner,   to   direct   a   TV   commercial   which   echoed  the  themes  of  George  Orwell’s  i1984.    Apple  CorporaMon    |    Macintosh    |    1984  
  26. 26. The  Computer   Designing  the  Personal  Future    Apple  CorporaMon    |    1984    |    1983    Apple  CorporaMon    |    Macintosh    |    1984  
  27. 27. The  Computer   Designing  the  Personal  Future   In   1997   the   Apple   CorporaMon   introduced   their   most   widely   used   adverMsing   campaign   to   date,   which  would  conMnue  well  into  2002.     Using   17   world   leading   figures   from   the   20th   Century,   Apple   used   the   significaMon   of   these   individuals  and  their  achievements  to  construct  the   possibiliMes   of   a   future   built   around   the   personal   computer.     In   this   sense   the   owner   of   an   Apple   computer   would   automaMcally   be   associated   with   this   knowledge   base   and   the   product   in   effect   would   accelerate  thinking  and  creaMvity  via  technology.      Apple  CorporaMon|    1997  
  28. 28. The  Computer   Designing  the  Personal  Future    Apple  CorporaMon    |    1997  
  29. 29. The  Computer   Designing  the  Personal  Future    Apple  CorporaMon    |    1997  
  30. 30. The  Computer   Designing  the  Personal  Future    Apple  CorporaMon    |    1997  
  31. 31. The  Computer   Designing  the  Personal  Future    Apple  CorporaMon    |    1997  
  32. 32. The  Computer   Designing  the  Personal  Future    Apple  CorporaMon    |    1997  
  33. 33. The  Data   Designing  Meaning  
  34. 34. The  Data   Designing  Meaning   h^p://     h^p://    
  35. 35. The  Data   Designing  Meaning   Google  Inc    |    Chrome  Browser    /    OS    |    2008   Robert  Delaunay  |    Circular  Forms,  Sun  No.  2    |       1912-­‐1913  
  36. 36. The  Data   Designing  Meaning   MicrosoT|    Windows  7  OS    |    2010   Morgan  Russell    |    Cosmic  Synchromy    |    1914  
  37. 37. Sony    |    Bravia  TV    |    2006  
  38. 38. Samsung    |    LED  TV    |    2008  
  39. 39. Conclusions   The  Techno-­‐Futurist  Century   This  is  only  half  the  story     See  :  web  browsers,  iPods,  social  networking,  data  clouds     The  techno-­‐futurist  century  began  with  a  fascinaMon  with   technology  reflected  in  art     The  techno-­‐futurist  century  ended  by  using  arMsMc  noMons   of  product  design  and  rules  of  colour  to  sell  technology     Somewhere   during   the   course   of   the   20th   Century   consumer   culture   became   the   dominant   market   for   the   manufacture  of  electronics     These  electronics  in  turn  became  the  dominant  devices  for   the  producMon  of  art