Back to the Future

Last week, I blogged about the Future Library – a 100 year artwork where each year for the next 100 years, a writer will be commissioned to write a work for the Future Library.  However, the works will not be viewed by anyone or published until 2114.  Readers in 2114 will get the chance to look back and see how the world worked 100 years previously and possibly get glimpses of the future. Over the weekend, I discovered an almost opposite project – France in the XXI Century.  France in the XXI Century is a series of postcards by a number of French artists created for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris.  The postcards were futuristic drawings showing what the artists thought France would be like in the year 2000.  There are at least 87 known cards and 51 of these have been added to Wikimedia Commons.  The cards are out of copyright and in the public domain. The cards are interesting in their own right but having discovered them at more or less the same time as the Future Library, I couldn’t resist the serendipity of it all.

You can view all 51 images on Wikimedia Commons but below are some of my favourite images.

Divers on horseback by Jean-Marc Côté.

This has to be my absolute favourite – divers riding seahorses.  So far, it hasn’t come to pass but maybe there’s still hope for the future.  I totally want my own seahorse to ride; I think I will call him “Bubbles”.

Air Tennis by Jean Marc Cote ?)

This card seem particularly appropriate as the Australian Open Men’s Singles Final was played on Sunday.  I wonder how Rafa and Roger would have fared playing air tennis?

Electric scrubbing by Jean Marc Cote

This image – electric scrubbing – at least has an idea that has come to fruition with the Rumba vacuum cleaner.  Unfortunately, the artist wasn’t clairvoyant enough to predict cats riding electric cleaners.

Future School by Jean Marc Cote

This image does bring to mind all of our students walking around campus with their headphones on (hopefully listening to lectures and not Spotify).  The artist has successfully predicted a feel for online learning but I’m not so sure about the book munching machine.

Auto-rollers by Villemard

This is probably the only idea shown in the postcards that actually came true.  Although, we didn’t have to wait until the year 2000 for roller skates.  The fashions in the postcards are almost as wacky as the 1970s!

Well, I hope you enjoy our visit back to the Future!  Take a look at the whole collection and share your favourites in the comments below.