i realized this several years ago when doing some work for the SciFi Channel (now just Syfy, which is either growing on me, or is growing on me in a way that requires antibiotics). space is retro.
or at least, the notion of a utopian, techno-future, stylized space – that is retro. think Star Trek more than Star Wars. space was always filled with uncertainties about isolation, alien life, technology run amok, but it was also this place filled with possibility for discovery, exploration, a place we would go when we’d gotten good at everything else.
there was also, baked into this notion of idealism, an idealism of style – things would be minimal, yet brightly colored, a bit sparkly because of high-tech fabrics, but also light. everything was reminiscent of art deco, but moving solidly towards mid-century modern, which makes sense – because it was the middle of the century that welcomed modernity. i have no idea what idea or sensibility this century means to identify with, but it doesn’t feel terribly modern. it feels old, messy and petty. perhaps that’s why, as we moved closer and closer to this century, our ideas about the future got away from holograms and flying skateboards and intergalactic exploration/peacekeeping. things have been getting ugly for awhile, so space, when we decided to consider it again, became either decidedly planet bound, as in the Stargate series or Firefly, or it was about wandering and fighting through space while choking on each other’s air, as in Battlestar Galactica.
anyway, i was given these for my birthday/Christmas:
the top of the image was a piece of art given to me by my friend stephen. i have no idea where he found it, but i adore it. it’s happy. it is made of spare parts. it is a pleasant turquoise color. it’s a happy, scrappy ‘bot, and deserves to hang somewhere good – so that it is the first thing people see when they come into my apartment. i think it sets a fantastic tone. i’ll try to find out where he got it and post the resource here. because who doesn’t love ‘found object’ art – especially when it becomes a smiling, benevolent, robot face?
as much as i love the ‘bot, the bottom of the image is of two ornaments for the tree i wound up not getting. these were gifts from my friend andy. they’re pressed tin laser guns. i loved them immediately and started making little laser sounds that i don’t know how to spell onomatopoetically. it was this package, these two little guns that made me realize, it’s not about ROBOTS, it’s about things that remind me of robots, it’s about that art deco idea of what space would be like – colorful, well designed, a place that was about the future. these little guns, despite being so retro are still quite ‘futuristic’. the rest of my little robot collection (which is growing at an alarming rate – all of them gifts, i should add) – is also about the idea of futuristic design. it gives me a little laugh when i see them, and makes me think about what the future was always supposed to be about…
and that helps me avoid wallowing in what the future has become.