Saturday 18th September, 6-8pm
Venue: MB518, Aston University Booking
An oven constructed from wartime radar equipment? A daily commute by gryo-copter? A hidden, ‘Blazing World’ behind the North Pole? This session explores past visions of future technology, including choice clips from restored documentaries of the early twentieth century, alongside examples from Renaissance science fiction. As our speakers explore some tensions behind these visions, we invite you to submit your own ideas of what might be seen in centuries to come. Suitable for ages 12+.
In conjunction with this event, there will be a special screening of Metropolis at the Electric Cinema, on Sunday 19th September. Time and booking details to follow.
Dr Tim Boon, Chief Curator, The Science Museum – Plenty of Time for Play: The Future in the 1930s
The Electrical Development Association released its film Plenty of Time for Play in 1935, imagining the future world of 1955, where the daily commute was by gyro-copter, work complete by mid afternoon, and delicious food produced in seconds by the turning of dials. This fascinating film, in its incorporation of a backward-looking conservative voice, encodes many of the contemporary debates about the nature of technological change, and the impact of mechanisation of work. Using selections from this film and contrasting works from the same decade, this talk disentangles some of the tensions behind this breezy look into the future.
Professor Peter Bowler, School of History and Anthropology, Queen’s University Belfast
Professor Bowler presents some highlights from a 1949 documentary about how science and technology can help improve everyday life.
Film provided by Duncan Miller, with financial support from Anglia Ruskin University. With thanks to Richard Jeffs and the Baim Collection.
Dr Clare Jackson, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge – Early Modern Imaginary Societies
This talk explores utopia visions of scientific and technological futures in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Writers such as Thomas More, Sir Francis Bacon and Margaret Cavendish placed a premium on scientific discovery as a means of understanding and controlling nature in non-religious frameworks. Drawing inspiration from the ‘new science’ of the Royal Society, early modern authors created fantastical futures alongside disturbing dystopias.
Picture of Future London (from the cover of Wired)