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Interfaces

starwars targeting falcon

 

This is pretty awesome.  Someone at mrush.co.uk rendered various computer systems from Star Wars  and Aliens as simple programs. Almost more fascinating that they don’t really do anything, these programs satisfy through recognition and rework your computer to be like those in the movies. Once again, this kind of simulation should be discouraged for limiting the creativity of the real world, but come on, look at that sweet red and yellow  targeting reticule. Check them all out. A great effort that can hopefully be used for some critical art projects, or as suggested by the writer at mrush, for some badass fanfic.

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SkyMall Greatest Hits

A trove of products grasping at the image of the futuristic, SkyMall features a truly astounding selection of useless fetish objects that seek to fulfill the need for luxury… for the new. These kinds of goods should seem familiar, as they are what our society is build upon. For a more detailed run-through of consumerist tendencies and their origins, I recommend Stewart and Elizabeth Ewen’s Channels of Desire. But suffice to say that shiny products answering a need we never knew existed are a staple of American (read: global) life. Here, then are a few choice selections from a recent issue of the Mall, which I find best demonstrate the extremes of future-mongering in the consumer industries.

The adds speak to that sort of almost-but-not-quite future glimpsed in childhood toys or on the backs of cereal boxes. Obviously there is a strong emphasis on white and blue with smooth contours. It seems particularly fitting that the publication resides in the sky, only accessible from the already luxurious and high-tech experience of flying. Literally above the realm of every-day experience, the time spent reading SkyMall places them physically closer to the stars – the ubiquitous symbol for technological progress and social betterment – in a broken leftover from Cold-war era political bamboozling.

uv light wand

 

feng shui gadget

 

futuristic bowl machine

 

authentic tea brewer bullshit

 

wheel skates

From the Archive: Nat. Geo Our Universe

cover spaceship

Scans from National Geographic Picture Atlas of Our Universe. The book also includes some humorous 80’s illustrations of possible alien lifeforms. Here though, are pages that testify towards the universal vision of the future. Aesthetics and forms that define our present. Check ’em out because they’re awesome, but realize why you feel that way.

space station illustration

space station interior

spaceship asteroid

space shuttle orbit

Apologies for that binding line on the last one…

 

SOURCE:

Gallant, Roy A. National Geographic Picture Atlas of Our Universe. Washington DC: National Geographic Society, 1980.

 

MASDAR

just look at the little guy...

More future cars! Spotted in The New York Times last week, the “carbon-neutral” city of Masdar in the United Arab Emirates, has been infested with subterranean driverless cars. The city is apparently raised  23 feet off the ground to catch the desert breeze, and to make room for the local network of robot cars. Ostensibly little different than a subway, the very private personal transports took their design – it seems –  from well, every clean Utopian Sci Fi film ever made. Norman Foster, lead designer for Foster & Partners, who helmed the UAE’s new eco-mecca is supposedly a “lifelong tech buff who collaborated with Buckminster Fuller” – so that explains a few things.

Nicolai Ourorrsof from NYT explains:

But Mr. Foster’s most radical move was the way he dealt with one of the most vexing urban design challenges of the past century: what to do with the car. Not only did he close Masdar entirely to combustion-engine vehicles, he buried their replacement — his network of electric cars — underneath the city. Then, to further reinforce the purity of his vision, he located almost all of the heavy-duty service functions — a 54-acre photovoltaic field and incineration and water treatment plants — outside the city.

The result, Mr. Foster acknowledged, feels a bit like Disneyland. “Disneyland is attractive because all the service is below ground,” he said. “We do the same here — it is literally a walled city. Traditional cars are stopped at the edges.”

Driving from downtown Abu Dhabi, 20 miles away, you follow a narrow road past an oil refinery and through desolate patches of desert before reaching the blank concrete wall of Masdar and find the city looming overhead. (Mr. Foster plans to camouflage the periphery behind fountains and flora.) From there a road tunnels through the base to a garage just underneath the city’s edge.

Stepping out of this space into one of the “Personal Rapid Transit” stations brings to mind the sets designed by Harry Lange for “2001: A Space Odyssey.” You are in a large, dark hall facing a row of white, pod-shaped cars lined up in rectangular glass bays. (The cars’ design was based on Buckminster Fuller’s proposal for a compact urban vehicle, the D-45, which helps explain their softly contoured, timelessly futuristic silhouettes.) Daylight spills down a rough concrete wall behind them, hinting at the life above” [emphasis added].

The first 13 cars of a proposed fleet of hundreds were being tested the day I visited, but as soon as the system is up, within a few weeks, a user will be able to step into a car and choose a destination on an LCD screen. The car will then silently pull into traffic, seeming to drive itself. (There are no cables or rails.)

 the fleet in stationCheck the diagram and slideshow for more.


Umbrella Luminosity

blade runner umbrellas

Old news, really, but something that struck me as worth sharing here. The above image is, of course, from Blade Runnner (1982) and something that has been replicated in the real world fairly successfully – likely because it’s pretty easy to build compared to the film’s flying cars. You can pick one up over at Thinkgeek for a reasonable $25 plus shipping (also available are samurai and broadsword umbrellas if you prefer fantasy to your Sci Fi).  Practical value would be, I suppose, illuminating your way through a gloomy rainstorm, but we all know it’s just cool because it’s like that one movie, right man? Novelty or familiarity?

think geek futuristic umbrellaHere’s a cool homebrew one from Plecter Labs with some nice videos of things lighting up.

Fresh Scan: Sync-bot

and what's with that stadium in the background...?

Another magazine find, this time from the back cover of Make – which is coincidentally the subject of a large-ish essay I’m writing. Not strictly concerned with depicting the future, makers certainly affect aesthetics and the philosophy of progress, so I might throw it up here when it’s finished in addition to over on the parent site. Anyway, here we have anthropomorphic qualities being projected onto an what looks to be essentially an mp3 player. Personalizing and familiarizing yourself with such technology is fine, as long as you’re aware that you’re closing the gap between people and machines. When you call your car (or especially mass narcissistic tech like an iPhone) a she or a he, you are, as RAF member Jaron Lanier wrote in his 2010 book, perpetuating a” reduced expectation of what a person can be, and of who each person might become” (You are Not a Gadget p. 4)

Field Report: Household Discovery

What the?

the subject.

A can opener, apparently. This sublimely ergonomic device was a recent gift from a friend, and it is easily the most futuristic thing in my kitchen drawer. Let’s pretend for moment that we hadn’t seen the instruction booklet that came with it (which, it totally is complicated enough to warrant having one). As watchful citizens, or pseudo archaeologists, or at least someone used to the long-standing history of the common can opener, we have to ask ourselves what this strange device is. At first glance, more in line with electric razors or luxury motorcycles, the can opener belies a clear inspiration from both Modern design and the sort of hi-tech sleekness pioneered by Science Fiction. Feel that history.

ventral view.


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