“Future thinking and making require the capacity to create narratives for near and far futures and to compose proposals to meet the imagined needs of the future. Future-oriented creative practices also require future literacy—understanding the temporal continuum in which future-oriented work is created and being aware of the underlying incentives, motivations and structures of works, commissioned or self-initiated.”
Sylwia Żółkiewska for Future Lynx
Once, there was once a philosophy-based stream in art called Futurism. It stood for a rejection of the past and a celebration of speed, machinery and industry. So, what is next? How accurately are we able to predict the future of visual arts?
First, let’s make one thing clear. Orwell (and others like him) was not a visionary nor did he “predict” CCTV. Like many sci-fi authors, he simply picked up on already existing societal tendencies of certain regimes and exaggerated them into a dystopian vision. Surveillance had already existed back then. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great observer and prediction maker – as many so-called prophets and oracles are. Assumptions are truly based on forecasting. Qualitative and quantitative research that determines the course of development across fields of study and culture.
How do trese attempts at FUTURE FORECASTING fare in art? The most aesthetic aspects of dystopian works of art overshadow the dark sides and eventually seep into the mainstream. Take up our offer to embark on a journey through a hand-picked selection of artists and works we cherish, and that clicked right into place with our new theme.
One leg of the journey will lead us to the so-called vintage/retro-futurism ideas, artistic styles and visions, which will manifest either in the concept or the aesthetic. Post-apocalyptic world affairs of cyborg warriors. Domestic animals bred in fridge-like boxes at typical countryside homes. Alien civilisations as friendly-looking fellas, visiting our home planet for the holidays.
The other leg will meander though super-futuristic AR/VR technologies, digital fashion, AI automated art and patterning, transhumanism and more. It might be an extraterrestrially glamorous virtual dress or slimy, sleazy, wet but sexy mutants living in our darkest fantasies. As most of these are the result of extensive 3D modelling and programming skills and research, one might dare to say that the digital artists of today are closer to scientists than they’ve ever been in history.
Speaking of history, artists’ fancy for depicting the future might have been sparked by biblical Apocalyptic notions or the excitement over the potential existence of more advanced cultures and civilizations as large swaths of the world as we know it today were still uncharted.
Now we turn to art to offer us a form of escapism (again). Busy and hyper-realistic immersive installations filled with endless reflections of unique artistic visions and never-seen-before narratives. As the boundaries between the public and the private begin to merge into blurred depictions of ‘reality’, contemporary art is a mechanism that enables us to respond to a renewed understanding of existing and possible futures.
Gerhard Richter said that, “art is the highest form of hope.” We at SWARM believe that art could be beautifully weaponized to create a better future. It ignites the imagination and encourages us to visualize alternative endings. And once we visualise something, it comes into existence and shapes all of our fates.
Join us, it will be fun, you’ll see. You can place your bets.
ANIMATION AUTHOR / BIO / Guillaume Legoux
Guillaume wrote about himself / I mainly do illustration work in the airbrush style, it is a technique that I particularly like for its aesthetic side when rendering, for the imitation of different materials and natural textures. Just the sole fact that this tool was originally used on cars made me choose it and it also has this retro/vintage aspect that I love. It went through a super popular stage in the 80s just to turn into an artistic niche nowadays, albeit in the digital form.
The first thing that triggered my passion for illustration was the discovery of heavy metal album covers when I was 6. They left such a strong impression and aesthetic mark on my life, and I’m trying to reproduce this feeling 18 years later. The covers of the magazine “Métal Hurlant” also influenced me enormously, as did the plethora of airbrush artists of the 70s and 80s. Sci-fi movies and video games too.
I come from a region in France where the population is aging more and more. All young people go to big cities for studies and work, I did the same. But returning home gives me a very strange sensation: that of observing a ruin under construction and that the people who live there know more dead persons than alive. It’s very disturbing and that’s probably why I have a great interest in empty monumental spaces, without life. Or maybe at least with skulls and that sort of thing a bit, which represent the relics of a past life.
But in my imagination of a phantasmatic future, life does not disappear completely, it is replaced by a higher power, creatures or machines that sweep the universe to annihilate all life, in search of an uncompromising and emotionless suppressor. This is probably my unconscious vision of the future, a great loneliness for humanity due to an impossible space conquest. Right now, we must live on this toxic planet. It is a gradual erasure of humanity in an industrial and dangerous world without hope where the only salvation is nothingness.
Post-apo and dystopian themes are very dear to me and I like to ask the question: What if? What if humanity took this direction and not that one? Maybe that’s also why I create, to show envisioned worlds, worlds that are waiting for a spark to emerge. This is my future forecasting.
Guillaume Legoux aka @sunboy_deathstar
FOR YOUR READING AND EDUCATIONAL PLEASURE
1/ The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism by Nick Land
2/ #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader by Robin Mackay
3/ Red Pill by Hari Kunzru
5/ The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age
6/ 0(rphan)d(rift>) cyberpositive by 0(rphan)d(rift>)
7/ Postcapitalist Desire: The Final Lectures by Mark Fisher
8/ Zeros and Ones by Sadie Plant
9/ Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Bio-Technology and the Mutations of Desire by Luciana Parisi
12/ Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space by Luciana Parisi
13/ Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures by Mark Fisher
14/ Ž40 -Živel / Overground Against monoculture
15/ Trilogy by Liou Cch’-Sin Death’s End
1st book: The Three-Body Problem (三体) (Problém tří těles)
2nd book: The Dark Forest (Temný les)
3rd book: Death’s End (Vzpomínky na Zemi)
16/ The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
17/ Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 by Nick Land
18/ BIG. Formgiving. An Architectural Future History
19/ The Dark Enlightenment by Nick Land
21/ Xenofeminism by Helen Hester
22/Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction and Social Dreaming, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby
Text / Františka Blažková (mostly) & Markéta Kosinová
Artworks & Animation / Guillaume Legoux @sunboy_deathstar