FUTURE IMAGE LAB
TRANSCENDENTAL HOPE IMAGE
Lab Author: Dejan Lukic
Like a lighthouse in the sea of buildings, roads, and urban tribulations, stands a new library, high on the upper floors, sandwiched among the busy offices of e-commerce company. Will this kind of interior architectural void be the only place left, in the city of the future, for the transcendental pause?
Example: Wutopia Lab designs Satory Harbor library in the VIP shop’s new headquarters in Guangzhu, China.
180 DEGREES OF SEA IMAGE
Will the abandoned islands fulfill failed utopian visions of the past? Climate change will guide new populations back to islands for a new form of archipelagic living, as quality of air becomes the greatest luxury on the planet, and study of aerosoles (tiny particles of dust, fumes, mist) a decisive investigation for future survival on the planet.
Example: The island of Antikythera serves as a meteorological melting pot where dust from the Sahara, tephra from Mount Etna, and cinder from Canadian wildfires merge. Climate scientists from around the world are gathering at the new climate observatory which is being transformed into a superstation.
ALTERED CONSCIOUSNESS IMAGE
Will images and projections from science replace all need for personal experimentation, as we end up seeing all the obscure processes of our consciousness, clearly and lucidly outside of us? Will this conjunction of art and science lead to new types of lucidity, a clear-headed thinking, where altered consciousness will be viewed with aesthetic fascination, rather than with compulsive physiological dependency? We will continue to see what was so far invisible.
Example: Art and science venture, Sensescapes, creates an exhibition space with projected light and immersive music created from brain data of people in altered states.
Image: Sarah Schoenfeld, “All You Can Feel/Maps, MDMA” (2013): http://www.sarahschoenfeld.de/2019/03/05/all-you-can-feel/
Golden shimmering lines intersect each other like lasers; we can tell where they begin but not where they end; they extend themselves into the dark infinite. The artist constructs this magnetized space in order to change us, alter us, as soon as we step into it. The heightened sensitivity of the future will rely on the development of magnetic capabilities.
Example: Brazilian artist Lygia Pape (1927-2004) constructs unforeseen emotional experiences through performance, sculpture, and installation.
Image: Lygia Pape, “Tteia 1, C (Web)” (2011)
At the core of art lies the power of clairvoyance. Artists manifest the invisible, in whatever medium they work. Now science too makes what is invisible to human eyes visible. Our future will be determined by the ability to see invisible currents of water and air, for they are the sole shapers of the fate of this planet.
Example: Oceanographers are mapping the Gulf Stream that runs like a giant river through the Atlantic ocean, carrying warmth. The seeming weakening of this arm of Gulf Stream will bring monstrous changes in climate.
Image: Designed and produced by Michael Beswetherick, Ruru Kuo, Jesse Pesta and Rumsey Taylor.
We will soon learn how to float into the far distances of space guided only by the sheer thermal powers of the Sun and propelled by the winds alone. This will be a form of navigation which was in the ancient times reserved only for sailing on water and for the insects and birds. Now this eternal dream of sailing in the air, silently, is becoming reality.
Example: Artist Tomas Saraceno engineers a floating installation able to carry a human being without any fossil fuel.
Image: Studio Tomas Saraceno.
ANIMAL EYE IMAGE
The story goes that there is a sacred area of wilderness wherein only a single rule exists: that all animals are kept from extinction there. The doctors here discovered that looking into the eyes of animals cures anxiety and distress. The animal eyes serve as a remedy adjusting human beings' mental misalignments. Doubtless, this will be the last form of medication for our lonely and abandoned humanity.
Example: Visionary writer Velimir Khlebnikov, the central figure in the Russian Futurist movement from the 1910s, and author of "The Snake Train," "The King of Time", and "The Tablets of Destiny" writes stories about the future of life on our planet and the necessary alternative formations in language, architecture, art, and science.
CAMERA EYE IMAGE
The greatest luxury of the future will be the ability to be outside the view of the camera. As every inch of the public space on the planet is being monitored, only few will be able and willing to avoid this perennial gaze of the camera eye. Indeed, today we live and breathe inside the technological lens which we do not even see.
Example: China’s surveillance initiative called Sharp Eye blankets all public space in the country with security cameras.
Image: Sinan Saglam / EyeEm / Getty Images
One of the first games a child learns is hopscotch. Later we take pleasure in hopping on the rocks in a creek. Then the scale increases and one jumps from one island to another. The final dream is one of hopping from planet to planet, traversing the cosmic archipelago which constitutes the known and the unknown interstellar space. All science fiction films point to this. Mechanical and bio-engineering is lagging behind, but not for long, as dreams force themselves upon the machines.
Example: In a disquieting yet humorous way, French artist J. J. Grandville draws images of the future, which are somewhere between a dream and a scientific discovery.
Image: A Bridge Leads from One World to the Next, from Another World, 1844
Will the future be composed purely from synthetic biology, where entire worlds will be built artificially from nature’s original building blocks - cells? Will the future be defined by a final reconciliation between the artificial and the natural? And will we ever be able to tell the difference between the two?
Example: Artist Amy Karkle works with bio-nano scientists to build objects from cells.
Image: Amy Krakle, Regenerative Reliquary, 2016
There is no escape from the game. Existing means being part of the invisible rules (physical, social, virtual). Each of these carries a series of codes and as such everything is prescribed, yet everything is at play. The future can only be conceived as such a playful ascertainment, or else as an exuberant divination.
Image: Joshua Sortino
It is said that one of the architectural inspirations for the movie Blade Runner 2049 was a design for the unbuilt Neanderthal Museum. Indeed, we intuitively feel at home in these futuristic enclosures, with smooth oblique wall finishes, which remind us of caves, where only interplay of light and shadow matter. The future is always a combination of the prehistoric and posthistoric.
Image: Estudio Barozzi Veiga (Barcelona, 2010)
Can there be a fully mathematical model of reality? Is it all just a science of configurations, that is to say, geometrics? Ancient astronomies and numerologies relied on mathematics too, at the core of which was a mystical number. The future will precisely balance these two domains as well: the mathematical and the mystical.
Example: Architect R. Buckminster Fuller developed a theory of synergetics according to which patterns and regularities give rise to scientific and mystical knowledge.
Image: US Pavilion for Expo 67, designed by R. Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao, erupts in flames. Montreal, May 20, 1976. https://d2zfqweka4o4h0.cloudfront.net/design/files/2016/02/Pavillion_descreened_e_g-784x1024.jpg
FUTURE CITY IMAGE
Human beings have always felt out of place: first from nature, then from technology. They were not able to reconcile with their own animality in the past. And they are unable to reconcile that they are partially computers now. The future will be one of this reconciliation where the human will comfortably be animal and machine, organic and inorganic, synthetic and natural. It is for these humans without impediments that cities of the future are built.
Example: The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, designed by Santiago Calatrava, is used as a backdrop in science-fiction series Westworld, where androids mingle.
Ciudad ciencias y artes Valencia. Contributor: Kristof Bellens / Alamy Stock Photo
In the shadow of the ancient civilizations, what will our future edifices look like? It seems that the very word “civilization” remains buried in the great pyramids of north Africa and central America for good. The future temples will be more impressive in terms of scale and color, and less profound. For the insides of it will have to be devoid of any ritual, so that the visitors can take photos of themselves, undisturbed.
Example: Artist-couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude build the largest sculpture in the world called Mastaba outside of Abu Dhabi. It was conceived in 1977 and soon to be finished.
Image: Christo, The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates), Scale model 1979
Enamel paint, wood, paint, sand, and cardboard
82.5 x 244 x 244 cm (32½ x 96 x 96 in)
Property of the Estate of Christo V. Javacheff
Photo: Wolfgang Volz 1979 Estate of Christo V. Javacheff
The latest science of sleep tells us that nightmares are healthy, as they process and prepare us for potential traumatic events. The truth is that we know very little about the role and the effect of dreams. Without a doubt they are liminal phenomena of our psyche. And as such, they flutter, like the wings of the ancient goddess Psyche, who is said to have had butterfly wings, for silent arrivals to our dreams.
Link: Treatment of nightmares changes in most recent sleep and trauma studies: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210330-why-we-shouldnt-be-afraid-of-nightmares
Image: Secondary Electron Microscope. Image of a few butterfly wing scales.
The striking feature of the monoliths is that they are silent devices pulling us toward a future. In the movies and science fiction novels they are mysterious initiators of human evolution. In ancient cultures, they are markers for the ineffable. They are concrete, outside nature, portals into the unknown.
Link: New monoliths mysteriously appear in Utah, California, New Mexico, and Romania.
Image: Famous monolith from a movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”: https://thehundreds.com/blogs/content/seeing-ourselves-how-stanley-kubrick-saw-us-2001-a-space-odyssey-essay-monolith-screen
GALAXY BRAIN IMAGE
Will we one day view the entire galaxy, everything formed and still unformed, as one gigantic brain? The more we study neuronal connections in our brains, the more we see their resemblance to galactic filaments. The leading conversation of the future will occur between astrophysics and neuroscience, provoking a completely new understanding of the human.
Link: Astrophysicists and neuroscientists are exploring Galaxy Brain theory, which shows curious overlaps in the structure of the brain and structure of the galaxies:
Immortality is not up in the sky, in the abstract beyond. Rather, it hovers in the depth of the sea. And so it is in this inhuman element that we will find possibilities of eternal life. The secret hides in the biomorphic technique of a tiny jellyfish.
Link: One jellyfish specie - Turritopsis dohrnii - has the ability to revert to its earlier stage of development, thus starting its life anew time and time again: https://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/on-exhibit-posts/the-immortal-jellyfish
Image: © Takashi Murai/The New York Times Syndicate/Redux
The greatest luxury of the future will be clean air. Air will be what gold used to be - a coveted currency. We will not dig for it. Instead, we will use devices to purify it, thus returning to the old art of alchemy, which changed base into a noble matter.
Link: Atmos Mask that purifies the air while being worn is being developed for the future use of the global population: https://www.ao-air.com/theatmos
POST_021: TIME-TRAVEL IMAGE
It is not unimaginable to conceive the entire universe as an ever expanding sculpture. The first gesture in making a sculpture is that of twisting. If we could twist space, the time would twist with it. Some say this is now just a matter of engineering; of developing a contraption which would allow for such gravitational twist to occur. Then there would be no more past or future. There would be only infinite looping.
Link: Traveling time machine prototype is currently in the making at the University of Connecticut: https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/laser-powered-time-machine
Image: By Grandfailure. Stock illustration ID:650958632. https://www.istockphoto.com/vector/man-with-a-lantern-standing-in-front-of-the-big-golden-clockwork-gm650958632-118608243?irgwc=1&cid=IS&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_source=TinEye&clickid=wVUzC3WZvxyLR8x05-R4sULoUkBxGgxxRy-YRs0&utm_term=&utm_campaign=&utm_content=435504&irpid=77643
POST_022: 10,000-YEARS IMAGE
Inside a mountain, a clock is being built. It will tick once a year for 10,000 times. It will play melodies no one will hear. It will measure human time of an entire civilization. It will make us aware that “our” time is measured in thousands of years...
Link: Designed by Danny Hillis for the Long Now Foundation, on the land in western Texas owned by Jeff Bezos, a clock which is meant to last for 10 millenia, and powered by sunlight and visitors, is being built: https://longnow.org/clock/
POST_023: ABSOLUTE TIME IMAGE
There is no absolutely objective time. Time at sea level and time on the mountain pass differently (always slower the closer we are to the sea). The stronger the gravity, the slower the passage of time. At the core of the earth, there is no time, just magmatic alloy of iron-nickel. The temperature of the inner core is the same as that of the surface of the Sun. In these solar temperatures even time melts. Here, the future is the past and the past is the future.
Link: Current physicist explains time misperception and its relation to heat and entropy:
Image: Earth core structure. Elements of this image furnished by NASA — Photo by Shad.off
POST_024: COLOR HEARING IMAGE
At some distant point in Earth’s history, senses began to differentiate themselves and different living entities ensued. Humans are limited to five. Each has its own function. Changing a function of a given sense occurred only in avant-garde literature, or in cognitive rarities like synesthesia. But soon it will be possible for all. And if we then hear colors, will we still be called human?
Link: Google Arts & Education develops a machine learning system that allows visitors of a museum to experience paintings auraly: https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/hear-color
Image: Kandinsky's synesthesia is thought to have heavily influenced his 1925 painting Yellow, Red, Blue. Image: Guillaume Piolle/Wikimedia Commons
POST_025: NO FUTURE TENSE IMAGE
There are now almost eight billion humans on the planet. (It took two million years to reach the first billion and only 200 years to gain 6 billion more.) The greatest threat of the future is the further expansion of a global mass. The most valuable, because the most rare, will be the consistency of the small number. Like the little known Livonians. The most amazing thing about their native tongue is that it has no future tense…
Link: Europe’s smallest ethnic minority numbers only 200 individuals in present day Latvia. They speak Livonian language with complex grammar that has 17 cases and genderless nouns: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20210516-europes-language-that-few-speak
Image: Scene from an old Baltic folktale absent of strict deities by artist Šarūnas Leonavičius.
POST_026: RISE OF THE INDIGENOUS IMAGE
In the future, territories will be recognized not by the borders of the nation states, but by the names of ancient and current tribes. A new mapping has begun, one that is not claiming possession but rather unveiling the names of the eternal ones.
Link and image: Visualization by a collective that is patiently mapping the ancestral lands of the native tribes around the world: https://native-land.ca/
POST_027: ALMOST EXTINCT IMAGE
Without a doubt, humans are in the process of destroying all life on Earth. They consume with a conviction and obliviousness that could be mistaken for a destiny. The rare is being suffocated under piles of human waste matter. The planet will eventually fall through its own orbit, unable to carry the weight of future anthropogenic mass. This is the meaning of the old philosophical idea of the void - falling into oblivion.
Link: For the first time in geological history anthropogenic mass weight (mass produced by humans) surpasses the biomass of the planet: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210520-could-humans-really-destroy-all-life-on-earth
Image: Global Biomass versus Human-made mass. Credit: Itai Raveh
POST_028: SPECTRAL IMAGE
There is an invisible, inaudible, illegible spectral infrastructure which lies within each organism. It is a form of ephemeral organization which could be called a “drive” or “affect”. But it goes way beyond human psychology. This invisible scaffolding underpins institutions, cultures, biological entities, and artificial intelligences. It forms unbeknown to us. As the future brings us more and more super-sensitive devices, perhaps we will develop the capacity to see it or hear it (our essence).
Meshes (Spectral Infrastructure), 2021
Sublimation print on flag material
58 3/10 × 47 1/5 in
148 × 120 cm
POST_029: ALCHEMICAL IMAGE
The mysterious quest of the future stays the same as it was in the past: how to transform base materials into gold (or whatever will be considered valuable and beautiful in the future)? How to give the decomposed energy of work, of matter, a new life?
Link: Mexican artist Fritzia Irizar transforms old worn-down parts of tools into solid gold and thus creates a testimony to worker’s everyday tools: https://muac.unam.mx/exposicion/fritzia-irizar?lang=en
POST_030: ALIEN IMAGE
The future has always been here, hiding in the present, in the form of an alien, that is to say unknown, creatures which remind us that complexity of form knows no scale.
Link: Intricate surface of the tiny predator reveals the alien morphology among the common inhabitants of the Earth. It morphs into debris of leaves when threatened: https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/terrestrial/invertebrates/brown-marmorated-stink-bug
Image: Terrestrial Turtle Bug (Bimodal wart stink bug) by Dustin Rhoades:
POST_031: BIO-INK IMAGE
If human body parts come from outside the Earth, are they still human? In the future, we will have our bodies developed outside of “home”. That is to say, in environments without gravity.
Example: NASA scientists are printing organs with bio-ink in 3D printers in orbit because the gravity on Earth makes the necessary coagulation of an organ impossible.
Image: A 3D bioprinted structure suspended in clear silicone:
POST_032: UNSEEN IMAGE
What will determine our cosmic life in the future, the understanding of our galactic environment, is still unseen. We only have an intuition of this image, an idea of what composes it. But we are yet to reach that cloud which envelops us. The unseen that the future will reveal is coldness itself.
Link: Just outside of the heliosphere, in the farthest reaches of our Solar system, floats a vast, frigid, icy Oort cloud, contaminated by other stars from the outer universe. Scientists hope it will be reached in 300 years: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210618-the-solar-systems-icy-shell-contaminated-by-other-stars
Image: Wikipedia commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oort_cloud.png
POST_033: FAILED UTOPIA IMAGE
All we have are failed utopias. That is to say, alternative communities which existed for a short time before they disintegrated into more predictable political formations. Yet the desire to create a society which will be different from the preceding ones, including the one we live in now, persists. The future will be shaped by the capacity to imagine these alternatives anew.
Example/Link: In the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard lies an abandoned Soviet mining community:
Image: From a series by Finish photographer Ville Lenkkeri.
POST_034: EMDR IMAGE
Certainly, the eyes tell the whole story. Not their color, or their sharpness, or their acute vision, but rather, their movement. In the future, where everything will be determined by some sort of “rewiring”, so will our health. And it is likely that we will be able to undo our traumas with “eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing.”
Link: Radical psychotherapy claims that eye movement desensitization can heal individual old traumas: https://aeon.co/essays/how-emdr-helps-to-reprocess-traumatic-memories-at-warp-speed
Image: Photo by Guido Mieth/Getty.
POST_035: MESSENGER IMAGE
Example: In 2017, astronomer Robert Weryk spotted an asteroid-like object which differed from the crowd. It came from outside the solar system and was named Oumuamua, Hawaiian for ‘first distant messenger’ or ‘scout’.
There are millions of asteroids in our planet's environment. A lot of cosmic debris. Yet one object seemed more like a formed sculpture. An intergalactic art exhibit of one. It has begun. And yet, we are still unsure.
POST_036: TREMULOUS IMAGE
Finally our silhouettes will be overcome with an unpredictable shimmer. For the intelligence of the AI creates the highest degree of wavering shape. Soft, tremulous, fitful. Divinely distorted, purely atmospheric, and utterly real. And as a result, the garments for our bodies will transform us into shimmering bodies.
Link: Artist Silvio Vujicic, in collaboration with the architect Miro Roma, introduces the AI fashion designer named Soll, as part of his studio brand E.A. 1/1 S.V. Existing and thinking as a cloud of images and a search engine, that is continually growing, Soll draws from an immense database of images and words which populate the entire oeuvre of the brand: https://ea11sv.com/soll/
Image: Artist’s website: https://ea11sv.com/product-category/ea11ai/
POST_037: SEASONLESS IMAGE
One possible scenario: we are staring at a seasonless future. There will be no more changes in the temperature, colors of the landscape, sounds and smells of the air. Just one big greenhouse. We are staring at the extraordinary extermination of heterogeneity and variance, which will remain as the highest unattainable virtues.
Link: The snow depths are decreasing rapidly, changing the pathology of the communities that used to be surrounded by it:
Image: BBC/Javier Hirschfeld/Getty Images
POST_038: TRACKING IMAGE
The stratosphere will be the final zone of engagement from which life on earth will be guided. In a fashion similarly imagined by the Slavic Futurists in the 1920s, self-guided balloons with free internet recently flew above Peru. For us humans, who are turning from creators to observers, what remains is just fear and trembling.
Link: Google Loon Project was initiated in order to provide free internet to most remote areas of the world. The first flight was from Puerto Rico to Peru. AI guided balloons learned ancient sailing techniques on the go and decided to aler their course: https://x.company/projects/loon/
Image: Undated video from Google: https://www.computerworld.com/article/3008459/googles-loon-balloons-now-fly-for-three-months.html
POST_039: PREBORN IMAGE
Dreams prepare us for the traumatic entry into the world of forms. Dreams as visual images are preconscious and presubjective. They are therapeutic devices for the world of the real.
Link: Neuroscientists find that mammals dream before they are born as a preparation and training of their senses: https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/mammals-dream-before-birth
Image: Michael C. Crair et al, Neonatal waves, Science, 2021.