Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Retro-Futurism 5: Dreams of the Metropolis

Poster for Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927).

I've found a great collection of retro-futuristic pictures of urban concept art at Dark Roasted Blend.  These are speculations about a future in which "living in mega-cities was considered a privilege. That gleaming Metropolis on the horizon? - Something to aspire to, the glorious destination to dream about, to shape your life accordingly and reach it as the utmost reward... Such ideas were popular in the infant days of futurism, in fantastic literature on both sides of the Atlantic. Thankfully the 'mega-urbanism' dream is replaced today by quite the opposite idea of an affluent living in the country."  Mega-cities are a futuristic concept from the 1920s that shaped much of the twentieth century's idea of cosmopolitan life.

Still from Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927).

These architectural designs meld easily with futurism driven by dreams of space exploration, plans of conquest through war, the explosion of capitalism - or the massive growth of government.

Space and the Metropolis: Art by Sci Fi Master Artist Frank R. Paul (1933) © Frank R. Paul Estate.

Most of this stuff was imagined from the 1920s to 1940s, and still evident in Albert Speer's architectural designs for the Nazis' Third Reich through the 1930s and Second World War.

War and the Metropolis: Model, by Albert Speer, of proposed Halle des Volkes, Germania. Deutsches Bundesarchiv.

Then there's futurism and gritty fantasy.  Urban Gothic architectural images are the sort we associate with Batman's Gotham City. And really, Batman is the pulp fiction vigilante who arose naturally in the sort of city that Fritz Lang conceived in the late 1920s. Dark Roasted Blend: "The whole 'Gotham/Empire' style in architecture really took off after the conceptual work by Hugh Ferriss. His 1929 book The Metropolis of Tomorrow influenced the whole generation of architects, with its moody, colossal projections, destined to forever haunt the dreams of would-be dictators and power-mad superheroes."  A 2007 exhibition on his work and designs for buildings on Wall Street was shown at the Skyscraper Museum (link here).

Hugh Ferriss Urban Gothic design.

These futuristic architectural trends ran up to the 1970s; the winning school that survived the period was the Bauhaus style.  But futuristic megacities in Asia and the Middle East are now on many architects' drawing boards.  Several megacities that borrow the principal features fo cities such as New York, Paris, London and Amsterdam are planned to be built on top of artificial islands made of reclaimed garbage. Perhaps the apex of such plans that have actually been constructed so far is Burj Al Arab –Tower of the Arabs – a 7-star hotel, purportedly the only one of its kind in the world, in Dubai.

Design meets Reality. Burj Al Arab, Dubai. Indoor Fountains at Main Entrance.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai. Lobby. Kiwi Collection.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai. Blue Restaurant. Kiwi Collection.

The main site for the hotel is here.  There is a travel photo of the fountain here.

View all posts on redefining Retro-Futurism.

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