Wandering through the future

@chriswoebken spied this one — an art film by Marjolijn Dijkman (NL, if you couldn’t guess) called Wandering Through the Future in which the artist takes 70 science fiction films and uses them to explore how they imagine the future. In an interview, there are some curious and relevant sentiments surrounding the production of the film — particularly this observation that the nearer in the future the film takes place, the more recent the film is. It’s as if we’re trying ever harder to imagine a possible near future, whereas in the earlier days of science fiction film, it was expected to imagine some time far, far in the future.

There’s also a timeline that goes along with it, evidently, of stand-out quotes from the films. I’m guessing this time line is also apparent in a recent book

When I collected all the scenes for this project I couldn’t find a single optimistic future scenario. It started as a timeline of the future along which I placed all the films I could find according to the fictional date when they are set. The distant future is mostly represented through films from the early days of science fiction cinema, and in general the closer you get to visions of the near-present, the more recent the film.

Scenarios change from Barbarella rocking in her space ship in 40,000 AD to almost hyper-realistic and feasible scientific models of the future in which nothing is playful at all.

I think in the 1960s and 70s culture you could still imagine far future scenarios, but nowadays people are already so afraid of the coming 30 years that they cannot think ahead. We live in a science fiction future already; the future of sci-fi has shrunk from the day after tomorrow to today. Yet we should think beyond science fiction and face the future in a different way. The films which comprise Wandering Through the Future often represent a worldwide apocalypse – the entire earth variously becomes frozen, a desert, flooded, contaminated by influenza, a single totalitarian state or taken over by robots. Cinema here does not think of local scenarios or the possibility that different phenomena might happen in different places and at different scales. It’s important to stress that we cannot only paralyse each other with fearful scenarios for entertainment but we should also think of possibilities and create new scenarios to be able to imagine a long term future again.