In the Future-Past Tense

(0)


The fantasy of the future and the utopian promises of new technologies have always gone hand-in-hand. If the history of technology's evolution tells the story of our culture, we can also trace our present-day novelties back to the root of our anxieties about the future and the problems these devices hoped to solve. With this correlation in mind, the interactive DVD novel The Imaginary 20th Century (2007) by Norman Klein, Margo Bistis, and Andreas Kratky, jumps back to the fin de siècle era between the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a time of wonder when new technologies and their representation were wedded in documents like panoramic films of public light shows and short actualities about newfangled transportation devices called roller skates. The novel tells the story of "the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, and the story of a woman (Carrie), who in 1901, selects four men to seduce her, each with his own version of the new century" in a recombinatory visual narrative that overlaps 2,200 images culled from primary documents, architectural plans, photos, and other ephemera with an original score. The project speaks to the multiplicity of visions circulating about what the new century would hold, and it's an even more past-tense follow-up to Norman Klein's interactive novel, Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles, 1920-1986 (2003). Klein's work has clearly resonated with at least eleven people, because closing this week at Otis College of Art and Design's Ben Maltz Gallery is "The Future Imaginary," an exhibition that responds to The Imaginary 20th Century with the work of artists Deborah Aschheim, Jeff Cain, Tom Jennings, Jon Kessler, Ed Osborn, Lea Rekow, Douglas Repetto, Phil Ross, Kari Rae Seekins and Aaron Drake, and Susan Simpson. Each contribution embodies the special genre of historical science fiction while speaking to Klein's interest in the phenomenon of "misremembering the future." Fortunately, the show isn't in too much risk of being misremembered, given the extra steps taken by curators Tom Leeser and Meg Linton to document the work. They've made a YouTube playlist full of video interviews with themselves and the artists about their kinetic sculptures, sound installations, and other multisensory forms of fortune nostalgia. - Marisa Olson