Each era has had its own vision of the future which, to a large extent, has been conditioned by the milieu that feeds it.
This exhibition seeks to offer a reflection on the future. To understand how we thought about the future in the past and why, and what alternative futures we can imagine today to respond to the challenges we face.
From the most popular current TV series, the latest films, literature and even advertising, our culture is full of images of the future. Many of them strike us as fascinating, although the majority are only the current versions of ideas that we have had for over a century. Each era has had its own vision of the future which, to a large extent, has been conditioned by the milieu that feeds it. The exhibition ‘The Great Imagination. Stories from the future’ – curated by Jorge Camacho, an expert in the design of futures – aims to provide a reflection on the future. We want to understand how we used to see the future in the past and why, to see how these ideas continue to influence how we imagine it and to rethink how we can explore new futures from this moment onwards.
Have we always imagined futures that are so radically different, as we do today? How has our idea of the future changed at different moments throughout history? What impact have these ideas had on the development of our societies? How do these images appear and evolve and what role do imagination and creativity play in the dreaming up of possible futures? To explore possible answers to all these questions the exhibition provides a journey through a universe of fiction and daydreams that, at different times in history, have suggested what a future time might be like by means of literature, films, comics, design and architecture, among other disciplines. The exhibition thus presents projects ranging from the first utopia to the most contemporary speculations, passing through the whole spectrum of imagination that began to spread after the Industrial Revolution and from which we continue to draw upon to a large extent.
Weaving a dialogue between imageries ranging from the 18th century to the present day, the exhibition asks to what extent our current vision of the future remains anchored in ideas and values from the past, and what role imagination and creativity can play in the production of possible alternatives. In a century beset by multiple crises, the future of which may be crucial for the history of our planet, is it still valid to speculate on idealised futures such as those imagined in the past? What alternative futures can we imagine in response to the challenges we face? Unleashing the transformative power of the imagination to envision “radically different” worlds is perhaps more necessary now than ever.
‘The Great Imagination. Stories from the Future’ can be visited free of charge on the 4th floor of Espacio Fundación Telefónica, from 3 November 2021 until 17 April 2022. Booking is essential.