This brief sets the challenge of creating a vision of the future from the perspective of a world further in the future and looking back. This draws on the skills sets of black and white printing, screen printing and drawing.
To imagine our world 10 years in the future is quite a task. If we use the last 10 years as a guide then highlights must be the advances in genetics, engineering and in particular robot engineering, chemistry, image technologies plus numerous other areas, showing us that we are at the beginning of a transformation from a low tech post war society into a technologically advanced, industrially creative, inter connected human race linking the majority of the countries on the planet. A scary thought for any society not yet technologically advanced and as a consequence, the faster we advance the wider the gap between us becomes.
The assignment asks us to go further in the future and ‘look back’ at the year 2025.
What world can I imagine? A world at war? Our current threat of terrorism makes this a very real possibility. ISIS want an independent muslim state where the medieval practices of extremist religion can grow and dominate. Its roots are firmly based in an almost ‘Luddite’ approach to the western world, and the loss as they see of a more pure and ancient religious based life. The problem for ISIS is that it’s a war of attrition. Technology makes the West powerful and therefore aggressive in the face of opposition. The only real response ISIS can offer is to make Martyrs of its followers in the hope of inspiring others.
In reality neither side can win. If the Western countries destroy ISIS their name will carry on for generations and be revered by those with extreme views. If the West concede and give them a muslim state, unspeakable and barbaric crimes will be committed against those who do not comply whilst living within its boundaries. What it could do is give a breathing space to those who fear the change technology brings, but it would take generations before ‘in roads’ could be made to introduce technology again.
The problem was illustrated in a recent movie “Bitter Lake” by Adam Curtis. (See RRJ entry – Bitter Lake.)
The mostly appropriated film attempts to illustrate the deep rooted problems in Afghanistan. Essentially the problem is a tribal war with power shifting from one faction to the next with the unwitting help and assistance of the West.
This form of power struggle is not a new one. History is full of examples of this type of ethnic war. Recently Iran, Iraq, Syria and several African countries including Rwanda, Uganda and Somalia have all experienced this form of tragedy.
It’s not just a new problem though. If we just take the development of our own country from the Romans through to the 21st Century, Luddite attitudes and the resistance to change have sparked conflict so many times. We are so focussed as a nation of Western countries on advancing our technology, we fail to stop and think on the effect that can have on the deeply religious who live amongst us.
As a person in my mid 50’s I ‘kept up’ with technology advances, my mother on the other hand did not. Little help is given to those who don’t want to buy into this ‘Wondrous Technological Future,’ instead we as a society ostracise them and ridicule them for not keeping up. Advertising is now so intense it impacts on every aspect of our lives and we don’t have a choice but to accept it. How many adverts do you see where you really have no idea what’s being sold because you don’t have the latest phone or gadget and are therefore not part of the ‘in’ group. Again we don’t have a choice to exclude these adverts from our lives, instead we are left to feel inferior because we don’t have the latest technology. How do people who don’t own a computer survive in today’s world?
I recently watched a programme on television about a community of anti technology people, The Amish. This American based community chose to isolate themselves from the advances in technology for over 100 years. The rules of the church, the Ordnung must be observed by every member and cover most aspects of day-to-day living, including prohibitions or limitations on the use of power-line electricity, telephones, and automobiles, as well as regulations on clothing. Most Amish do not buy commercial insurance or participate in Social Security. As present day anabaptists Amish church members practice nonresistance and will not perform any type of military service. Members who do not conform to these community expectations and who cannot be convinced to repent are excommunicated. In addition to excommunication members may be shunned a practice that limits social contacts to shame the wayward member into returning to the church. Thankfully the Amish are peaceful.
So my 2025 retrospective assignment offers two possibilities. A technological wondrous future or a war torn battle of technology over religion. Never has it been so difficult to predict which corner we will turn or what we will find when we do.