Prophets.HeinrichHeine once saidthatthe historian is a prophetwho looks back onpastevents. Isthenhistorythe art of diviningthepast?
PALEOFUTURISM Seers of a Future Past
Futurology is a discipline that seeks to identify and evaluate possible future events based on rational, empirical and scientific methods; and one of it’s areas of study is called paleofuturism which is responsible for analyzing the work of futurists throughout history, in my case, "pre-hispanic cultures." In this scenario evidences of the past are examined (paradoxically) to give a glimpse of the future that men have imagined.
“We look at the present through a rear view mirror, we walk backwards into the future…” Marshall Mcluhan
Let's start by defining what is meant by futurology (science or art).
There are some who intend to rely solely on scientific and rational methods, to identify and evaluate possible, probable and desirable future events is important that we exclude esoteric practices such as clairvoyance, reading crystal balls, astrology, premonitions and so on… to wonder why?
We can see examples of these theories in sculptures, temples and pre-hispanic pedestals that are mixed all together arbitrarily to its contemporaneity.
Below is a table of the pre-hispanic periods shown:
Pre-classic 2500 - 100 AC Middle Pre-classic 1200 - 400 AC Late Pre-classic 400 AC - 200 DC Classic Period 200 - 900 DC Early Classic 200 - 650 DC Late Classic (also known as Epi-classic) 650 - 1000 DC Our Era Post-classic 900 - 1521 DC Late Post-classic 1200 - 1521 DC To the contemporary
This combination represents a "timeless" historiographical vision where science, art, mysticism, esotericism and technology come together to generate the most representative signs of it’s time.
These pieces which I call time machines share the idea that "intelligent nanobots" are integrated into our bodies, our brains and our environment; these have the potential to prolong our life and incorporate “virtual reality” in abundance to all our senses, creating an improved intelligence, but this is just the beginning; non-biological intelligence will have access to their own design and will be able to improve itself redesigning increasingly faster.
There will come a point where technical progress will be so fast that the unimproved intelligence will not understand it, this will mark the singularity, these ideas will be frightening and fascinating as it is and has always been thinking about the future.
“The first invention that broke the sound barrier was the whip, established in China more than seven thousand years ago.”
Since ancient times, many designers have imagined events that today we associate with the life of a futuristic world:
Contact with extraterrestrial civilizations, space travel, technological advances capable of remedy various ailments such as illness, old age, pain, death, and so on.
In the Middle Ages some of these utopias were not necessarily located in the future, but in a "golden age" situated outside or before it’s time, like the garden of Eden described in the Bible to some authors, the future looked like a return to the earthly paradise in which the man would return to an original innocence.
The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch ( 1503 – 1504)
Visions, inventive, utopia
At the arrival of the Renaissance the explorers realized the existence of new worlds, writers and philosophers like Thomas More, Francis Bacon and TommasoCampanellaimagined and described utopian societies with political organizations and idyllic religious institutions, at this time science was born as we know it today, in the field of graphic design the designs made by Leonardo Da Vinci were ahead of their time. Many of his visions and inventions would take centuries to develop into functional, as the parachute, the helicopter and the cannon among many others.
Centuries later during the industrial revolution between 1750 and 1850 were happening while important scientific findings and technological advances meanwhile in social circles topics like the importance of equality, equity and fair wealth were at their peak, at last, the time for the French Revolution had arrived followed by the wars of independence of America as consequences of these ideas, it was a promising future governed by the idea of progress as the main motor.
From the second half of the XIX century and early XX the pioneers of science fiction literature as Jules Verne, H.G Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs just to mention a few, published works that explored the reaches of civilization and technology, after the so called golden age of science fiction between 1938 and 1946 writers such as E. E. Doc Smith, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Arthur Clarke contributed to populate the collective imagination with cities and scenarios filled with advanced technology, fast aerial and submarine transportation as well as revolutionary methods of communication.
The appearance of this era (now we find archaic) highlights cities made entirely of metal and the mobility of mechanical devices.
Part of this futuristic neo-pre-hispanic proposal could raise the issue of retro-futurism which is nothing more than a trend in the arts to recreate the proper aesthetics of previous Futurism of the 60’s.
On the subject of the arts takes on a retro look with futuristic shades, with the addition of machines with a view from a modern perspective (television sets, computer monitors, gears, boom boxes and so forth). A striking example is the steampunk trend linking the Victorian era with modernity.
“The me that you know is now made up of wires, and even when I’m right with you I’m so far away…” -the becoming- Nine Inch Nails
Many of the predictions in time are linked to fiction, folklore, mythology, religious beliefs and fortune-telling practices, but, will there be a rational process to predict the events to come? or just the mystique of the objects will reveal the layers of time?
Which brings us as a species to throw the look to the future?
The most obvious motivation to worry about is perhaps survival (our own and our descendants), or the nearest human group, that is to say, foresee the pros and cons that prevail, in order to carry out in the present the appropriate actions to address them.
In these pieces I’ve decided to part from a futuristic present with the representation of an idealistic past.