Director William Gazecki's charmingly rough 2006 documentary Future by Design (if you haven't seen it yet, watch it here) never lacks for interesting ideas, and that's all due to its fascinating subject, Jacque Fresco, and his influences — especially, Fritz Lang's Metropolis.
Metropolis has loomed large in the imaginations of designers and future-enthusiasts for almost 90 years now. Its monolithic art deco cityscapes have shown up in sci-fi films and literature often enough to render it cliché by now, but one aspect is oft forgotten: the dreary, slavish existences of the city's inhabitants. It doesn't matter how gorgeous the skyline if the citizens are miserable.
Fresco looked at Metropolis' mixed signals and accepted only the most optimistic ones before embarking on a career of industrial design and architectural innovation. Since it's never clear that his particular brand of futurism is feasible, Future by Design isn't so much a blueprint as a 90-minute conversation with a particularly cool and accomplished grandfather.
So how did you feel about Jacque Fresco's career as featured in Future By Design? Let's talk about this thing!
Possible Discussion Topics
1. Can you think of a modern building or city plan that accurately depicts futurism done right?
2. Is futurism blind to humanity's need for recognizable aesthetics? (Consider fake cobblestone or the "Thomas Kinkade influence" on many planned communities.)
3. Is it hard to respect a futurism that didn't anticipate computers? (See also: much of science fiction literature.)
4. Do you live in a dome? Would you live in a dome?
5. Are the 1990s too recent an era to qualify as retro-futurism?
6. Does Jacque Fresco's kinship with local raccoons bolster his credibility when it comes to social engineering?
Price Peterson is a comedy writer and TV recapper from Los Angeles, California. His work currently appears on Vulture, TV.com, and The Atlantic Wire.