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How “Hubris Kills” and “The Speed-Up Speeds Up”: Syd Mead on Blade Runner, Transportation, and Biotechnology

the one and twenty

the one and twenty

Visual futurist Syd Mead reflecting upon the nature of creativity and how it drives the future.

2019: A Future Imagined is an eight-minute featurette by Jim Hunter and Joaquin Montalvan, embedded below, about “Visual Futurist Syd Mead [reflecting] upon the nature of creativity and how it drives the future.”

In case you haven’t heard of Syd Mead: he’s the artist behind Blade Runner’s iconic city background and vehicle design, the terrific exterior of the U.S.S. Sulaco in Aliens (interior design by Ron Cobb), and, not to forget, loads of stuff in Tron.

As a visual futurist, Syd Mead is also what I like to call a visual storyteller. Everybody who learned something about writing techniques knows that every good story has a “theme” which is explored from many different angles, preferably comprehensively. What writers often don’t realize is that in visual media like movies or video games, everything should add to this theme, from graphic design and character design to pieces of code for SFX or physics engines that determine how something physically behaves in this world. While movies are collaborative storytelling, provided they have a story and a theme to go with at all, video games even approach cocreative storytelling: which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the circumstances.

In case you speak German, you can find variations on the theme “The Speed-Up Speeds Up” or “The Acceleration of Acceleration”—dubbed “Proceleration” by Douglas Coupland in his New York Times piece “Dictionary of the Near Future”—scattered all over our video podcast series »Die Ästhetische Gesellschaft« on Vimeo [RIP] or iTunes [RIP] and in Siggi’s numerous blog posts tagged »Beschleunigung der Beschleunigung« over at … was wyrd [RIP].

One more thing. A commenter on Vimeo asked Jim Hunter about the overuse of lens flares in the featurette, to which he replied:

[W]e intentionally shot with a lot of flaring, knowing Jean-Marc would accentuate them in post. To answer your question…in my mind the light somewhat represents the future…kind of like a freight train coming right at you!

And it will.

2019: A Future Imagined



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