September 05, 2005


Retrofuturism portraits images of the future as they were seen in the past. It also portraits images of the past as if they were the most futuristic ones. The effect is truly amazing, when done right, as retrofuturism can be more futuristic than futurism alone. Examples can be found in every art. My favourite example is the song "one more kiss" in the soundtrack of Blade Runner (a movie full of retrofuturistic references). In videogames, you can see it at work in the "Fallout" series. Retrofuturism works because it's emotional, somehow nostalgic.

In techno, a good example is the soundtrack of "Metropolis" by Jeff Mills. Clearly, with that work, Mills was pursuing something retrofuturistic and, IMO, he completely succeed, at least if you listen to his music as you watch the film. I remember to read in hyperreal that all the DJ/rave culture is highly retrofuturistic, as you have the most electronic and futuristic music combined with the "old-fashioned" vinyl. Also, this wonderful motown-with-electronics sound that we all *love* posses a retrofuturistic touch.

The most amazing thing is that, when you are into retrofuturism, you can no longer look at some images of the past in the same way. Some things done in the past work perfectly as retrofuturistic today, even when the author had no intention of doing it. It does not even need to be artwork. That happened to me when looking at the videos of the "mother of all demos", that is, the demos made in 1968 by Doug Engelbart, father of the mouse. They would work perfectly as backgrounds for a Jeff Mills session. Take a look at them, you will be amazed.

What about Kraftwerk? I think they sounded futuristic at their time, but they sound more and more retrofuturistic each year ("computer love", "the model"). However, that is a *good thing*, and proves that their music will remain forever.

Well, "the future is not as it used to be" (who said that?).

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