Imagination is essentially memory
December 8, 2010 3:06 AM   Subscribe

2019: A Future Imagined - A short film were Syd Mead, designer and concept artist (probably most notable for for his work on Blade Runner, Aliens and Tron) “reflects upon the nature of creativity and how it drives the future.” (SLVimeo)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (13 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
So there will still be ugly sweaters in the future?
posted by stargell at 6:12 AM on December 8, 2010

I love me some Syd Mead design.
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:42 AM on December 8, 2010

I have this set aside to watch; I wish I could download it so I could watch it with my husband on the TV instead of the laptop screen.
posted by immlass at 6:47 AM on December 8, 2010

I have to say I was kind of disappointed with this. The guy is great and his designs and ideas are awesome but there's just very little content in the actual video.
posted by Riptor at 7:48 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

3min25s in, spotted Syd's LEGO Technic Bladerunner Spinner.

4 seconds later, checked Google, found this

3 seconds later; woe and despair. Sigh.
posted by Molesome at 7:51 AM on December 8, 2010

3 seconds later; woe and despair. Sigh.

Does it use special parts? Because you could always, you know, make it yourself.
posted by brundlefly at 8:12 AM on December 8, 2010

I remember being kind of depressed about 10 years ago when an artist friend of mine complained about how many art school students were so wrapped up in Blade Runner and Syd Mead that they weren't putting any original concepts on paper.

There is certainly something to that -- it's easy to get stuck in a creative rut and not realize it until you finally push your boundaries a bit. But Blade Runner is, was, and will always be a fantastic example of science fiction done right.

Mead's work is really great but I think it works best when paired with somebody who's a real storyteller, somebody who can really throw a wrench in things and be OK with that. The stuff Mead creates is sort of emotive in the same way elevator music is -- all the anxiety is taken out, and you've got this romantic world where you can sit back and just enjoy it 100% of the time. That's fine, but if you're an art student basing your work on it, you still have to learn to look beyond the object, beyond the big smooth tires and beyond the lens flares (did you notice the lens flare in the video? Holy cow) and see what's going wrong, and who's suffering, and give them a voice.

The future contains really neat flying things, that we're sure about. But we all fear what Blade Runner really illustrates -- our lust for objects blinding us to corruption and things going terribly wrong behind the scenes.
posted by circular at 8:36 AM on December 8, 2010

Several custom colored parts according to the thread here.

Oh, and upon rewatching, does additional lensflare make the interview seem more futurist or less? At times it was distracting me away from the sweater.
posted by Molesome at 8:43 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

The sweater is an artificial construct AI that is reprogramming and taking over your brain via the visual cortex using the lens flairs
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:59 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Any time I even see the words "Blade Runner," Blade Runner Blues immediately starts up in my head. Good job, Vangelis.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:39 AM on December 8, 2010

The stuff Mead creates is sort of emotive in the same way elevator music is -- all the anxiety is taken out, and you've got this romantic world where you can sit back and just enjoy it 100% of the time.

Personally, I feel this is doing Mead something of a disservice - he is a commercial artist, working to a brief, paid by clients who want their dreams rendered in a very positive way. When given the chance to drift - and his work on Blade Runner really attests to this - Mead is perfectly capable of depicting a certain kind of grim reality. His depictions of a neon-drenched future L.A. are almost uniquely nightmarish, as though Edward Hopper was beaming paintings from 2019. Equally, Mead's designs for Tron are brilliantly (even thrillingly) utilitarian, describing a world entirely absent of grinning couples and the quiet ice-rattle of a perfect Martini. His range is considerable.

Maybe I'm missing something, but the vague snark going on in this thread - sweaters and so on - seems rather petty and a bit baffling. SF authors generally write about the future, but are we going to critique their wardrobe also?
posted by specialbrew at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2010

"and beyond the lens flares"

It's always important to remind students that Syd paints his lens flares by hand... in gouache.

immlass, you can buy 2019 on DVD here (I did) so you can watch it all you want! There are also rental and VOD versions.

Also, if you don't have it already, there's a much longer film documentary, Visual Futurist, which gets much further into depth with history, interviews, a lot of looks at his work.

If you're an artist or art student, or would just like to see how Syd does what he does in great detail with Syd himself teling you all about it, there's his fantastic Gnomon Workshop instruction series, available on DVD and via download; he starts from scratch on an illustration and you see every step until the 20x30" gouache painting is finished.

As of right now, Syd's got a new book out: Sentury II, continuing in the same vein as the previous Sentury which is now really, really hard to get and expensive, like most of his stuff that's out of print.

And finally, you can see the entirety of his now-impossible-to-find Sentinel II book, containing a whole lot of his old stuff including a few from the even more impossible to find US Steel books, on the new artist-to-art-fan nexus website, (disclosure: I know the guy who started the site and I'm a member of it). Enjoy! (This link might be a little weird - if you don't get to Syd's page, use the menu under "Books," choose "Illustrated Books" and then either search for Sentinel or scroll right in the previews frame until you see the cover art.)

Syd has his own site too, and has a newsletter for which you should sign up if you want to get news from him before everyone else! :)

On preview, I agree with everything you just said, specialbrew. "Happy Future Land" is an advertising/marketing trope, and that's what has paid most of Syd's bills for the last 50 years.

You may not like Syd's sweater, but his taste in cars and other designed items is impeccable. He owns an original gull-wing Mercedes, fergossake!
posted by zoogleplex at 4:12 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by The Tensor at 10:49 PM on December 8, 2010

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