Our literary and artistic visions of the world to come have shifted constantly over time, from the art-deco nightmares of Fritz Laing’s ‘Metropolis’ to the grimly inventive slang of Alex and his droogs in Burgess’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’. With hindsight, these attempts to read the look of the coming ages have much to tell us about the time they were created and the preoccupations of their era.
Going back to the future are three artists whose work has considered the state of things to come. Graphic designer and comic book artist Rian Hughes’ work for titles including ‘2000 AD’ and ‘Dan Dare’ from the early 1990s onwards, imagined the future in a stylised manner that has since been widely imitated; a retrospective of his artwork was titled, appropriately, ‘Yesterday’s Tomorrows’. Meanwhile, choreographer Jonathan Watkins recently produced a new stage interpretation of Orwell’s ‘1984’ for Northern Ballet, putting a twenty-first century spin on the classic vision of a totalitarian future, while Andy Croft’s novel ‘1948’ took the supposed original title for Orwell’s novel and used Pushkin sonnets to tell a noir-ish whodunnit tale, hidden inside which was Orwell’s own book, rewritten to depict our current reality as dystopian horrorshow.
Join our trio of time-travellers (and moderator Michael Stewart) as they look at the ways we have visualised the future in the past, drawing on their own work as they go and mining the characters and texts that have inspired them along the way. Pack a sonic screwdriver.