Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Glittering, Antiseptic World



Just a note to add to Spillway's post on Orwell and Modernism, something I've been meaning to post about for some time:

'The world of today is a bare, hungry, dilapidated place compared with the world that existed before 1914, and still more so if compared with the imaginary future to which the people of that period looked forward. In the early twentieth century, the vision of a future society unbelievably rich, leisurely, orderly and efficient - a glittering antiseptic world of glass and steel and snow-white concrete - was part of the consciousness of nearly every literate person.'
Emmanuel Goldstein, Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism

23 Comments:

Blogger Will said...

Oh, nice one Owen, that had completely slipped my mind. Case closed.

2:03 pm  
Blogger n said...

Great picture,
i believe i know the car, but as an architectural semi-literate, what is the building please?

5:22 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

House is by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, Weissenhof Siedlung, Stuttgart, 1927. About as glittering, glass, steel and snow-white concrete as I could think of.

5:26 pm  
Blogger n said...

I thank you.

8:18 pm  
Blogger Giovanni said...

Has any systematic work been done to chart these imaginary futures at different times and in different societies? I think it would be tremendously interesting, and I'd wish it to include not solely the imaginings that have been visually represented (for instance) but also those that have been written about - including alien spaces. Is that too much to ask? But seriously, you sound like the person who may know of such a thing.

On a not entirely unrelated note: In praise of the sci-fi corridor.

5:59 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is quite geeky, but i do like a good corridor myself (now these things remind me, one thing computer games have got really good at are sci-fi corridors).

Such a book would be fascinating. find books on more limited (and perhaps western) themes such as 'utopia'.

As in Matthew Houlding's recent exhibition 'Sons of Pioneers':

http://www.dlwp.com/WhatsOn/ExhibitionDetail.aspx?EventId=1094

it seems we are still drawn by those previous visions. His models were most interesting though where they drew on a certain element of Islamic art- suggesting, at least to me, a hybrid of Islamic geometric abstraction combined with modernism- i presume such has been built somewhere?

8:13 pm  
Blogger rob said...

Here are some further future imaginings of the same city linked to above by Giovanni. I guess scifi is always a speculative imagination of the future, and what's interesting is the oscillation between utopic and dystopic corridors. Star Trek's kind of kitschy yet open and light space can be counterposed to its flip underbelly; service shafts, often fetishised in the the shows mise en scene. These spaces often host subversive activity, be it (ostensible) terrorism, or the crews attempts to regain their enemy ridden ship. Whereas the recent Battlestar Galactica remakes have these boldly triangular corridors, yet always a little dingy, a kind of exotic modernism. With the rise of the (oh don't envoke that french dude, oops) HYPERREAL program these corridors signify the desire for the exact opposite of "a glittering antiseptic world of glass and steel and snow-white concrete". The pristine façade wants to get dirty.

10:02 am  
Blogger Giovanni said...

Curse you, Rob... I've been spending the last week trying to think of which picture of Auckland I had originally in mind. It is in fact this glorious number from Bernard Roundhill (1956).

Okay, as you all were.

7:46 am  
Blogger rob said...

So pertinent.

http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/19842001.html

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