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Tomorrow Now
When design meets science fiction
Alexandra Midal + Björn Dahlström, December 24, 2007
Haus-Rucker-Co., Laurids Ortner, Günther Zamp Kelp, Klaus Pinter_Fly head, 1968
Haus-Rucker-Co., Laurids Ortner, Günther Zamp Kelp, Klaus Pinter_Fly head, 1968
 
The invention of modern science fiction: Hugo Gernsback

Luxembourg-born Hugo Gernsback (1884-1976) invented the English term “science fiction”. Following the “scientific marvel” by Maurice Renard and the “scientific novel” that notably qualified the stories of Jules Verne, it was this young émigré to America, the editor of a modest publishing house of pulp fiction, who was the father of the term “science fiction”. He invented it in 1929 for the editorial of the first edition of his magazine, Science Wonder Stories, and contributed to its popularisation through the magazines he published.

Since childhood, Gernsback had been fascinated by the relationship between science and technology
and he liked to imagine future inventions. At the end of each year, from 1951 onwards, he published a review titled Forecast in which he revealed his personal vision of the future. From Superception, a metal circle which goes round the forehead and which, via electronic impulses in the brain, recreates television images, to the Teledoctor, a remote-controlled robot that allows a doctor to treat people in their homes, from a distance, not forgetting the concertina handbag for alphabetical order, or the electronic assembly line which infallibly detects future conscripts... the verbose author constitutes a technological and heterogeneous
arsenal to magically facilitate future daily life.


Konstantin Grcic and Nitzan Cohen_Installation Space-1, 2007
Konstantin Grcic and Nitzan Cohen_Installation Space-1, 2007
 
On the occasion of the Universal Exhibition in New York in 1939, the American designer and theatre decorator, Norman Bell Geddes (1893-1958), created an exhibition of the city of the future for the General Motors pavilion, the Futurama. It presented a preview of what the city would be like in 1960. Sitting in pairs in chairs that circulated on a conveyor belt, the astounded visitors observed the city of tomorrow from below, with its skyscrapers, traffic lights at every junction, interchanges and expressways. They also admired the automated farms of the future in the countryside of tomorrow. Each visitor received a badge stating “I have seen the future” as a souvenir of this voyage through time. The Futurama was a project with enormous social ambitions and embodied the issues surrounding the recent discipline of design that was aimed as much at urban planning as at the production of contemporary consumer objects.

Norman Bel Geddes_Futuroma Project, 1939
Norman Bel Geddes_Futuroma Project, 1939
 
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