I scanned these images from a book found in Keith Fawkes Books in Hampstead, London. It’s the messiest and most chaotic bookshop I’ve ever been into, but those are the kind of places where strange treasures like “Visions of the Future” can be found. The subtitle reads: “An exciting and novel selction of science fiction art of today”. The book was a British publication, featuring at the time young British artists. Judging from a quick round on google, most of them seem to be active still. So there is plenty of inspiration out there! Here are five of my favourite artworks from the book, which stood out among all the weird and funky sci-fi kitsch.
The Earthship is a genius concept, which turns the home into an independent ecosystem. It takes no electricity from the power grid, and does not rely on public sewage service. It is built from used car tires, bottles and cans along with natural building materials. The outer walls are made with earth-filled tires, using thermal mass construction to naturally regulate indoor temperature. Electricity is harvested from sun and wind, while rain is collected for drinking water. A greenhouse for growing herbs and vegetables all year is an integrated part of every building. Earthship Biotecture was founded by Mike Reynolds in New Mexico the 1970s, and since then the organization have built their visionary homes across the United States. Since the 2000s, many earthships have also been built in Europe, Australia, Latin America and Africa. Garbage Warrior, a documentary about Mike Reynolds and Earthships, made in 2007, can be viewed in full here.
I like the building style, which seems to be inspired by the fantastic architecture of Antonio Gaudi:
Retro designed cars have been in vogue for quite a while now, starting with the launch of the New Beetle back in the nineties. I rember seeing a concept design of the New Beetle in a car magazine as a child – a few years before it came into production, and I remember I thought it was very cool. Since then the whole auto industry have jumped on the retro trend, the New Mini and the New Fiat 500 perhaps being the most successful ones. But along the way I totally lost my interest in these remakes of the car classics – mainly because the originals are so much cooler than the remakes. Instead I would love to see more cars like the Nissan Figaro, which truly looks old, but fools you with it‘s modern engine and technical specifications. It was launched in 1989 and originally only sold in Japan. However, it has since become popular in the UK, imported second hand. As a London resident I enjoy coming across them on my walks and cycle rides around the city.
Being born in 1986, I feel privileged to have grown up during the still primitive phase of the computer age, long before touch screens, crisp graphics and social media entered the scene. To me the pixelated computer images from my childhood have a strange beauty to them which can never be rivaled by today’s crystal clear ipad graphics. I guess it’s related with the limitations of the format, the low screen resolution and the limited colour palette. The limitations create a restricted stylistic framework, much like in traditional woodcut, silkscreen printing and stencil graffiti. It seems to me that the chances of succeeding in making something beautiful increases with the restrictions, perhaps making you less likely ending up in some stylistic blind alley.
Pixel artist Jim Sachs is an artist who stuck to his restricted medium even when the times changed – He still makes old school pixel art in the iPad era. A former American Air Force pilot, he got involved with the fledgeling computer and gaming industry in the early eighties. He started writing games for the Commodore 64, then got involved in the development of the Amiga (Commodore’s legendary gaming computer). His computer art from the late eighties and early nineties must be among the greatest achievements within the realm of pixel art. My first encounter with his amazing artwork was on my neighbour’s Amiga sometime in the early nineties, in the form of a desktop background called “Amiga Lagoon” (seen below).
Today’s sleek and soulless computer animations have a long and quirky history behind them. Steve Rutt and Bill Etra were two of the pioneers of computer animation, and revolutionized the field with their video synthesizer from 1972. In the somewhat surrealistic video below, Bill Etra himself explains some of the features of their synthesizer: