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Archaeology of the Future

Research & Visuals by Lily McFly Culture Club
Major technological trends of the last decade have extremely accelerated global culture to the point that the future is happening to us much faster than we could ever have imagined. Aé has identified the most significant ideas in culture, lifestyle, art, music, fashion, and literature of the present that will help you to chart the future.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

– Søren Kierkegaard

i. culture

We live in “the extreme present”
Our lives used to feel like stories; now we are increasingly dependent to a constantly refreshing stream of posts and tweets. In the book The Age of Earthquakes, today’s intellectual heroes, writer Douglas Coupland, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and editor Shumon Basar, call current historical moment “the extreme present”. While the internet is changing the structure of our brains, and technological progress modifies our world in unpredictable ways, our reality is one step ahead of the language we’ve inherited from the past. That’s why they propose a set of new words and terms to describe today’s phenomenons. Their glossary of the 21st century includes words like “Deselfing (n)”, which means “willingly diluting one’s sense of self and ego by plastering the internet with as much information as possible”, or “Time snack (v.)” meaning “often annoying moments of pseudo-leisure created by computers when they stop to save a file or to search for software updates or merely to mess with your mind.”

ii. lifestyle

With consumerism being a noticeable part of global culture, the world’s obsession with all things material costs us the Earth and human happiness. “We purchase things, not to fulfill our basic needs, but to fill some voids about our lives and make social statements about ourselves,” critic of excessive consumerism Annie Leonard explains. “It turns out our stuff isn’t making us any happier,” she argues. The problem of overconsumption brings us to the crisis of Self. And while minimalists encourage people to buy less but choose better, Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo offers her philosophy of decluttering. She has written four books on organizing, which have collectively sold millions of copies worldwede. The main idea of her books is keeping only those things that “spark joy” and getting rid of everything that makes you feel heavy inside. “Tidying up means confronting yourself. You come to realise what’s truly important in your life,” writes Kondo.
Buy Less. Live more


The artwork you will never see
One of the basic purposes of art is the search for immortality and a tangible connection to the future. But some contemporary artists interpret it literally: Their art becomes an actual time-capsule with a message for the future. For instance, the Black Square XVII, created by the American artist Taryn Simon, is made from nuclear material and currently being stored at Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM). A glassy black cube of vitrified nuclear waste was fabricated in May 21, 2015, in collaboration with ROSATOM during the centenary year of the debut exhibition of Kasimir Malevich’s Black Square. It will remain there, encased in steel and concrete, until May 21, 3015, when its radioactive properties have diminished safe for human exposure and exhibition. Cast within the black square is a two-ply cylindrical steel capsule holding a letter to the future that Simon wrote. As a foreign citizen, Simon hasn’t been allowed onto Russia’s state-controlled Rosatom nuclear agency, so for both safety and security reasons she has never physically touched or seen her own work of art. Instead, she has communicated with a team of Russian nuclear physicists. And while nuclear Black Square is hidden within the soil for 1000 years, it represents the ambivalent state of distance and closeness. It exists in the present moment, but none of us will ever see it. But there’s still a chance that someone will see another work of art, aimed at future audiences. In 2015, writer/actor John Malkovich and director Robert Rodriguez created a film that will be out in November 2115. According to IMDB, “the content of this film is currently a secret, due to be revealed only when the title is released in 2115.” There are rumours that the film is nothing but a good way to promote the sponsor of this film, Louis XIII Cognac, which takes 100 years to make. While an empty void in the wall of Garage Museum awaits Black Square XVII arrival 999 years from now, and 100 Years movie is being held in a special safe with a timer, we keep guessing whether it is a beautiful art concept or just a sophisticated promotion. Time will tell.

iv. music

Last summer, Ypulse, a youth marketing and millennial research firm, surveyed 1,000 young adults, asking them about music genres and artists. It found that while millennials are passionate about music (76% within the 13- to 17-year- old bracket said they wouldn’t be able to last a week without it), 79% of 13- to 32-year-olds said their tastes didn’t fall into one specific music genre. Just 11% said that they only listened to one genre of music. “It seems,” Ypulse noted, “that millennials are a genre-less generation”. Nowadays, popular music becomes akin to fast fashion: it imitates the sound of iconic or independent bands and artists, whether it’s electronic, indie-rock, or hip-hop, appropriating, or even “neutralising” it for masses. For modern listeners, music journalists and tastemakers are no longer getting in the way. Millennials are the first generation to literally have the entirety of the world’s music at their fingertips. They’re likely to be influenced by friends, celebrities or music on commercials. Samuel Potts, Columbia Records’ head of radio, says that “online culture is inherently global, so genres that were distinct and contained to geographical locations are now cross-pollinated throughout the world. As a result, you get artists like 19-year-old Raury, who’s championed by the likes of Kanye and André 3000, and cites everyone from Bon Iver to Phil Collins as an influence.” Moreover, artists don’t want to record full-leight albums. Kevin Parker, the leader of the Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala says: “Right now, doing an- other album doesn’t excite me. There’s something narrow-minded about thinking an album is the only way you can put out music, especially in the world we’re in at the moment. Anything is possible. There’s so many people doing interesting things with the internet and technology, there could be so many ways of making music and listening to it.”
A Genre-less Generation

v. fashion

Wearable tech is the new black
The speed, with which technology has been adopted by fashion, is dramatically increasing. While fashion developes faster and faster, there is something more progressive than design and style changes. And it is not about selling clothes online. It’s about innovations that alter the entire concept of clothing. Studio XO is a fashion laboratory that operates on the intersection of science, technology, fashion & music. Founded in 2011 by the pioneer of merging technology and fashion Nancy Tilbury, Studio XO has a team of hybrid experts from fashion designers to coders, engineers to materiologists. They’ve created the world’s first flying dress for Lady Gaga, the “interactive clothes” for Black Eyed Peas and the “digital mermaid bra” for Azealia Bank. Inherently, Studio XO are designers; they are interested in fashion aesthetics. But they also explore science, making fiction a science fact. At Studio XO, “digital couture” experience merge 3D printing, LED pannels, and sensors. Global giants also embrace new technologies. Adidas works on creating smart clothes for athletes that will monitor their real-time performance, tracking heartrates, respiration, movement and more. With these garments, Adidas hopes to get sportswear to another level. Wearable tech is the new black for the whole industry. Even though it is very difficult to make people change their behavior, especially with the whole new generation growing up on fast fashion, the concept of clothing is going to change.

vi. literature

Experimental interactive literature exists; it’s video games. Paradoxically, if you want to think of yourself as well-educated, or well-read, you need to engage with them. Today, video games have become not only well-designed, but also well-written. Naomi Alderman, the author and games writer, picks examples of great video games, which experiment with interesting storytelling. Her top ten includes games like Her Story, Gone Home, The Stanley Parable, and of course, the sublime Journey. Journey is an indie video game developed by That game company and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for PlayStation 3. In Journey, the player travels in a vast desert towards a mountain in the distance. The player can discover other players and join them, but the only form of communication between the two is a musical chime. Reviewers praised it for its unique emotional experience, and have since listed it as one of the greatest games of all time. Ultimately, reading a story involves a transaction between the reader and the text. We read for pleasure, for a unique experience, and for gaining meaning. Video games allow us to interact with a story, illustrating its space and time, just like our own imagination does when reading a book.
Video games might be the greatest storytelling medium