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USS - a portfolio of probabilities _02
June 18, 2012 9:42 AM   Subscribe

"Sometimes students are good for a big surprise - as in this case. Having read one of my shorter posts (actually this one: www.hs-augsburg.de/~mstoll/?p=411 ) on a website about retro-futurism, Dennis Bille one day came around with a quite large set of folders and unpacked these wonderfull illustrations. Obviously they once were give-a-ways from "United States Steel International" to show, how the future might look like - from a early 60s perspective."
posted by SpacemanStix (43 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Third one in on the second link = AT-AT walker.
posted by daq at 9:50 AM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


heh. cars are mostly plastic these days.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:55 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh my god it's the 80s!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:04 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing about retro-futurism, is that it is difficult to know what predictions for the future the artist was trying to portray. For instance, consider that in several of the pictures, there are strange looking animals. In one of the pictures, the animals have long legs and funny snouts. Now, I think it is obvious that the artist was not predicting a future with animals that looked like that. So what was the artist trying to portray? Were the animals just a way of adding "strangeness" to the scene, to heighten the sense that the environment of tomorrow would be unfamiliar to people in the 60s? Or are there more concrete predictions, perhaps that animals would be engineered? In general, we could ask what elements of a particular scene or object, or properties thereof, was the artist intending as a "prediction"? Sometimes there's material that accompanies the art that gives you a clue, but sometimes not.

Anyway, I love the art style. Thanks for the post.

Those snouted animals look like Combine-laamas.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 10:06 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


What's with the future fauna? Though this could be a poorly drawn (painted?) white tiger, this looks like some augmented horse-creature with catfish whiskers.


The 10th Regiment of Foot: Oh my god it's the 80s!

And for the future 1980s, a soundtrack by Les Rythmes Digitales.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:09 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the future, gay men will techno-camp with the women who just can't leave them.
posted by fatbird at 10:11 AM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Those huge AT-AT walkers: you wish, United Steel.

Also, I noticed that the people of the future still have a 1960s hipness about them: they remained cool cats. I think I'd rather get that groove back than a hovercar right about now.
posted by theredpen at 10:14 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have never ever wanted flying cars, but I could do with a future of clean lines, optimism, and large, oddly-marked domesticated cats lying about, looking disdainfully insouciant. Now, that's a future!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:16 AM on June 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


are there more concrete predictions

Oh, there are many, many concrete predictions. We will even use it to edge our lakes beside the gay techno-camps. They sure did love their concrete and gull-wing doors in the 60s.

These are great, SpacemanStix. Thanks.
posted by pixlboi at 10:22 AM on June 18, 2012


As an architect and illustrator, I can tell you why the animals in the future look like they do in these illustrations.

It's easier and faster to draw fantasy animals then it is to draw real ones. And you don't have to field questions from people such as "Why is there a tiger in this picture?" It's a future animal. Who knows if it's a pet or security or what? The designer doesn't know, which is why he illustrated it like that. It was just kind of cool and liberating to do it.

Don't overthink this stuff. On Reddit someone was asking why in Star Wars the guy referred to The Force as an "ancient religion" when the Jedi had been wiped out only twenty years before. There's no answer for this other than it sounded good at the time, and the other movies came later and Lucas either didn't think it was necessary to resolve, or simply couldn't. It's a simple, but unsatisfying answer.
posted by Xoebe at 10:23 AM on June 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Buh? Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity (among others) are all ancient religions that are still commonly practiced.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:26 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Early estimates of the supply of chrome were a tad overoptimistic.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:27 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Looks like the dude on the right is playing jai alai. Hoho would be so proud.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:28 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


These sorts of illustrations were not intended to depict a definite reality. There were intended to invoke an atmosphere of being in The Future™ One should look at them as impressions, not depictions or prognostications. Informed dreams.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:30 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, what the hell did they do to the Grand Canyon? Seriously, what is that thing in the middle? Some kind of bustling mini-metropolis? An arcology? Is the future so overcrowded that we'll need to start colonizing the Grand goddamn Canyon?
posted by Afroblanco at 10:31 AM on June 18, 2012


In the future, fender skirt repair is going to be huge.
posted by Hoopo at 10:32 AM on June 18, 2012


Extremely streamlined cars, very low to the ground. No children or old people = paradise!
posted by Cranberry at 10:35 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's with the future fauna? Though this could be a poorly drawn (painted?) white tiger...

I think that's Bubastis.
posted by The Tensor at 10:35 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the future, gay men will techno-camp with the women who just can't leave them.
Fatbird, that's how straight men looked in the sixties. Shorts were expected to be short. The 'shorts' of today were referred to as 'Bermuda shorts' and were snickered at.
posted by MtDewd at 10:35 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the future, everything will be orange, except when it's hot pink. And I guess Jackie Kennedy hair will come back.

I love these though, and they are exactly what the internet is for. Thanks, SpacemanStix.
posted by emjaybee at 10:36 AM on June 18, 2012


Also, what the hell did they do to the Grand Canyon?

It's a sort of Blade Runneresque giant skyscraper plopped down on the rim, meant to imitate the natural rock formation you can see in the background. And the interesting thing is the sightseers looking at everything together. They could have moved down the canyon and did their sightseeing in an area without human intrusions (presumably), but that giant building seems to be as impressive to them as the Grand Canyon itself.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:38 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, what the hell did they do to the Grand Canyon? Seriously, what is that thing in the middle? Some kind of bustling mini-metropolis? An arcology? Is the future so overcrowded that we'll need to start colonizing the Grand goddamn Canyon?

It's a holographic drive-in, obviously.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:38 AM on June 18, 2012


These signs look more like contemporary design than I expected. And they're in metric! I think the current crop of boring, but legible, highway signs are preferable, though.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:42 AM on June 18, 2012


My god--it's full of cars!
posted by drlith at 10:43 AM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ah, they don't need legible highway signs if the car is going to drive itself anyway. Just tell it where you want to go and it'll take care of the boring details like exit ramps.

Those snow walkers are pretty darn cool. And I can see the need for them up north, where four legged, snowshoe footed machines could deliver supplies all year. With them on the job there'd be no need to maintain ice roads or other expensive infrastructure.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:50 AM on June 18, 2012


In the future, all men will aspire to be George Lazenby.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:00 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even as sleek and styled as the cars get, no one ever sees the end of the white-walled tire!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:01 AM on June 18, 2012


The future was sure going to be groovy. These are right up my street. My dad had the soundtrack to 2001, and the vinyl album had pages of concept art from the film. They were rendered in this style, so to me, this IS how the future was.

Also, learn to render reflective surfaces, son, and you will never want.
posted by Trochanter at 11:11 AM on June 18, 2012


I hope *so* hard that Jackson Public and Doc Hammer are looking at these, and taking notes for an upcoming season of Venture Brothers.
posted by fings at 11:15 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought the strange animals were from SPAAAAACE, implying that interstellar travel existed. In fact the whole thing looks like civilian life in the 1960's Star Trek universe (if they had a bigger budget). "Spock! Uhuru wants to go techno-camping with us."
posted by gamera at 11:25 AM on June 18, 2012


Syd Mead, painter of [reflected] light. More. More.
posted by zylocomotion at 11:33 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope *so* hard that Jackson Public and Doc Hammer are looking at these, and taking notes for an upcoming season of Venture Brothers.

I stopped watching when they got rid of Brock Samson and replaced him with Sgt. Hatred, whom I quite appropriately hated.

Have they gotten rid of him yet?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:40 AM on June 18, 2012


Those augmented horse-creatures with catfish whiskers have been predicted before.
posted by steganographia at 11:50 AM on June 18, 2012


Syd Mead, painter of [reflected] light.

That's why it looks a bit like Blade Runner!
posted by Kevin Street at 11:50 AM on June 18, 2012


Yes, Syd Mead. I enjoyed this post but was a tad annoyed at the lack of credit for the artist (who appeared evident to me.)
posted by danl at 11:57 AM on June 18, 2012


Yes, Syd Mead. I enjoyed this post but was a tad annoyed at the lack of credit for the artist (who appeared evident to me.)

Thanks, zylocomotion, danl. I actually had no idea.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:01 PM on June 18, 2012


Fatbird, that's how straight men looked in the sixties. Shorts were expected to be short. The 'shorts' of today were referred to as 'Bermuda shorts' and were snickered at.

Or they're all Australian, as they seem to have kept the budgie smuggler alive and well even now.

These drawings remind me of the brothers Das, who wrote several futuristic books with roughly the same sort of aesthetic, but twenty years later.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:06 PM on June 18, 2012


My favorite is this this one. Says a lot about what the future did, and what it didn't do. Gull wing doors opening to do what looks like pay a toll.

Also, in the future, cars either have house-like amounts of interior space, or none at all.
posted by zabuni at 12:40 PM on June 18, 2012


Yeah, the car in that painting looks like a racer: sleek and low to the ground. The people of the future probably accelerate from place to place at tremendous speeds on highway/autobahns that have been carefully built to maximize efficiency in their cities. No traffic lights, or gridlock. Not many corner cafés or bicycle lanes either.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:57 PM on June 18, 2012


Is a budgie smuggler the same thing as a banana hammock?

Challenge: Phrase your Google image search such that you do not get pictures of Borat. I...............failed.
posted by maryr at 2:27 PM on June 18, 2012


Afroblanco, Brock has a lot more action in the second half of Season 4.
posted by fings at 3:10 PM on June 18, 2012


Well, now I understand why passenger rail in the U.S. was allowed to wither on the vine. In the future as seen from the 1960s not only was there a car in every garage, there was literally no perspective from which to view the world that did not have at least one car in it.
posted by sy at 6:06 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the future, everything will be composed of surfaces with compound curves. Budgets be damned, STYLE MUST PREVAIL!!!
posted by Meatbomb at 4:13 AM on June 19, 2012


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