Do you ever find yourself constantly thinking about what lies ahead? Some of us imagine a bright and optimistic future bursting with rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns. For some of us, we fear the dark and creepy side of the future that brings despair and distress. The possibilities are endless, and with the current technology such as smartphones, smart cars, drones, etc., we can only imagine what’s in store for the next 20 years.
A dystopia is defined as an imaginary, dreadful society where people live in constant terror under an oppressive government. It is the exact opposite of a utopia, which is described as an imaginary perfect place that is free of government corruption and horror. Types of oppressions that may occur include class, religion, lack of individuality, and lack of privacy. Yes, you’ve read that correctly - lack of privacy.
The origin of the word dystopia was coined by English philosopher and economist John Stuart (J.S.) Mill in 1868. Mill included the term in a speech he made before the British Parliament by Greg Webber in which he explained:
"It is, perhaps, too complimentary to call them Utopians, they ought rather to be called dys-topians, or caco-topians. What is commonly called Utopian is something too good to be practicable; but what they appear to favor is too bad to be practicable."
However, the dystopian concept was already explored in literature as early as 1846 in the French novel, The World As It Shall Be by Émile Souvestre. Émile’s dark and satiric novel is considered to be the first future dystopian novel in modern European literature. The story is set in the year 3,000 where steam machines are in the position of authority, the entire country of Switzerland has become a theme park, and there are about 684 kinds of mental illness. Sure, that may seem a bit over exaggerated for fictional purposes, but the recurring theme of consumerism and mechanization is not too far from reality.
This kind of future is frightening to think about, and as of late, we are seeing more of this depicted in films, visual art, literature, video games, etc.
Art is a form of expression that can be interpreted with many different meanings. It often combines elements of reality and fantasy. Dystopian art simultaneously shows disturbing and intriguing scenes where an atmosphere of futurism and a reflection of the "Old World" takes place. George Orwell’s '1984' has been mentioned on this blog in many instances, but its brilliance continues to make it an ever growing classic. A few days ago, we discovered a dystopian-themed image influenced by 1984 that immediately caught our eye. The artwork pictured above named 'News Maze' was created by Alex S. Martin, and he contributed his work to the Creators Project (Vice.com’s art and culture platform). Displayed in the image is a profusion of political and social issues that includes the recent media wars, dehumanization, and mass surveillance. Martin has also revealed a small secret detail about how he incorporates a “surveillance bot” in all of his drawings, which resembles a webcam with an illuminated red indicator light in the center.
Virtual reality mainstream success has opened a new door for the public, and it has now reached the Carnegie Museum of Art. The 2020 Dystopia VR exhibit will allow visitors to experience four individual 3-minute scenes with each being a different landscape. The first scene takes place in an ancient cave and the remaining scenes carry on to the year 2020. As viewers go through each scene, they will witness the decline of humanity, which eventually leads to 2020 dystopia. For curious minds, this seems like it’s worth checking out, especially since 2020 is almost right around the corner. This exhibit is featured at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hall of Architecture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Be sure to go soon as it only runs until September 4th of this year.
Is the future really now? We can certainly say that we have witnessed many predictions that were made decades or even centuries ago. For instance, Isaac Asimov’s predictions about online education, automation, and self-driving cars certainly wasn’t far off since those technologies have entered into our daily lives. As much as we’d like to know what will happen in the next 5 or 10 years, some things may be better left unknown, and that includes the future.
As a reminder, we recommend using Silent Pocket Faraday products to escape to your own utopia.
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