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Entries in brian horrigan (6)


The Trench Destroyer (1917)

This chilling image from the height of World War I appeared on the February, 1917 cover of Hugo Gernsback's The Electrical Experimenter. The excerpt below is from Yesterday's Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future by Joseph Corn and Brian Horrigan.

The design of this mobile dreadnaught, with its steel-tired, spoked wheels, suggests that its inventor may have been influenced by agricultural tractors or perhaps an amusement park Ferris wheel. The trench destroyer also embodies the common goal of military visionaries: maximum offensive power with total defensive security.

 Previously on Paleo-Future:



History of Hip: Yesterday's Tomorrows (Feb 2, 2010)

UPDATE: You can watch the video podcast of our presentation at the Minnesota History Lectures page on iTunes.

I'll be speaking about retro-futurism this coming Tuesday (February 2nd) at the Turf Club in St. Paul, MN. This Minnesota Historical Society event, The History of Hip: Yesterday's Tomorrows, starts at 7:30pm. I'll be sharing the stage with my friend, neighbor and retro-future co-conspirator Brian Horrigan. Brian wrote a book in 1984 titled Yesterday's Tomorrows to accompany the Smithsonian exhibit of the same name. We'll be taking a look at some of our favorite film clips and images from 20th century futurism.

The Turf Club is a bar, so unfortunately it's not an all-ages event. But if you're underage I'm sure you can find a good fake ID by Tuesday. Rumor has it that the first 10 people who arrive will receive a free hoverboard. But rumor also has it that I'm a liar. Swing by and drink up; it should be a good time.



Are We Heading Toward the Day Everything Stops? (1968)

My friend Brian Horrigan, co-author of the retro-futurism bible Yesterday's Tomorrows, writes a blog for the Minnesota Historical Society called Covering 1968. Brian recently blogged about the cover of the December 14, 1968 Saturday Evening Post. Its headline, "Are We Heading Toward the Day Everything Stops?" is an odd juxtaposition against the colorful (though certainly crowded) world depicted by illustrator Gene Holtan.

As Brian notes, the illustration style pays homage to popular futuristic images of the late 19th and early 20th century, like this one from an 1895 issue of Judge magazine. An excerpt from Brian's post appears below.

The editors of the Saturday Evening Post suggest here that 1968 was similarly full of warning bells–and this time the “future shock” had to do with massive infrastructural gridlock.  ”We are going very fast just to stay where we are,” the editors write.  The nation has a choice of where it will be in 25 years (that is, 1993):  ”Either an efficiently computerized and integrated transportation system . . . or an air-land-and-sea traffic jam so enormous that it will bring our entire society to a virtual standstill.” 

If you live in the Twin Cities and don't yet have plans for Groundhog Day (I realize this is a very busy holiday for people) come to the Turf Club in St. Paul where Brian Horrigan and myself will be talking (and drinking) at the Minnesota Historical Society event, The History of Hip: Yesterday's Tomorrows.

Previously on Paleo-Future:



Buckminster Fuller Screenprints (1981)

The 1981 catalogue Buckminster Fuller, Inventions: Twelve Around One is a gorgeous keepsake from the Carl Solway Gallery in Cinncinnati, Ohio. Their 1981 exhibition of screenprints, derived from Buckminster Fuller drawings, must have been stunning. The catalogue reproduces thirteen screenprints which were produced under the supervision of Fuller. The edition was limited to 60 numbered portfolios which are selling today for $45,000!

A photo of Fuller signing the screenprints appears above. Below you will find the introduction to the catalogue. Look for more from this rare book soon. Many thanks to Brian Horrigan, co-author of Yesterday's Tomorrows, for lending it to me. (I only recently discovered that Mr. Horrigan and I live just blocks from each other, and he was kind enough to lend me some great rare material.)

This catalogue reproduces a portfolio of thirteen screenprints and text by Buckminster Fuller published under the supervision of Buckminster Fuller by Colophon, Cincinnati, Ohio. The edition is limited to 60 numbered portfolios (1-60) and 20 hors commerce (I-XX).


Each of the thirteen prints consists of two 30" by 40" screenprinted sheets, one of which illustrates drawings for a patent invention by Fuller, and the second sheet illustrates the realization of the concept. These two sheets may be presented separately, in two frames; or together, as an overlay, in one frame. This catalogue reproduces both presentation options.

The patent invention drawings are screenprinted in white ink on a clear polyester film. A plain blue backing sheet, provided with each print, may be placed under the clear film patent drawings to create the effect of a blueprint. The accompanying photo realization of each invention is a screenprint on Lenox 100 percent rag paper. The text pages and the blue backing sheets are Curtis Tweedweave 100 percent rag paper made especially for this portfolio.

Each of the thirteen prints in the portfolio is hand signed and numbered by Buckminster Fuller on the clear film element.

See also:
Fuller's Traveling Cartridge (circa 1960s)
The Most Well-Documented Lives in History
Sea City 2000 (1979)



Gadgets for the Home (1930s)

In his 1986 essay titled, "The Home of Tomorrow, 1927-1945," Brian Horrigan describes the shift of emphasis to gadgets inside the "house of tomorrow," rather than the homes themselves. The essay can be found in the book Imagining Tomorrow: History, Technology, and the American Future. An excerpt appears below.

Although, like the public at large, American corporations ultimately refuse to underwrite a future full of modernist mansions or mass-produced homes, they were attracted by a shinier side of the Home of Tomorrow coin: the house as a wonderland of gadgets. It is not surprising that the companies that associated themselves most readily with the Home of Tomorrow were the major manufacturers of electrical appliances. General Electric exhibited a "House of Magic" at most of the major fairs of the 1930s. Alleged to "walk and talk," the house was not really a separate structure but a gimmicky update on the department store "demo" home, a kind of stage set on which glamorous women were cast as housewives, running the household machinery and making a sales pitch. Westinghouse, not to be outdone, built an entire "Home of Tomorrow" in 1934 in Mansfield, Ohio. It was intended as a lived-in laboratory in which the company's engineers and their families would temporarily reside to test the equipment. This house, a tour de force of household electrification, was designed to attract attention, which it did quite effectively. Designed by architect Dwight James Baum, the house was a conventional wood-frame and stucco structure, only slightly odd in style - a sort of Regency-Cubist affair, employing virtually none of the already notoriously "futuristic" modern vocabulary. Indeed, architecture was quite beside the point, according to the Westinghouse engineer responsible for the house. "A new profession of 'house engineers,'" maintained Victor G. Vaughan, "will soon absorb all architectural functions except those of a purely aesthetic nature." The engineers had a field day with the Westinghouse prototype, providing a connected electric load equal to that of 30 average houses, "ready to do the work of 864 servants with the flip of a switch." Some of the features of the house were air conditioning, an electric garage-door opener, automatic sliding doors, an electric laundry, 21 separate kitchen appliances, burglar alarms, 140 electrical outlets, and 320 lights. All this was available, or so it was claimed for around $12,000. Westinghouse admitted that the price would probably place the house beyond the means of most families in the future, thus further removing this spectacular exercise from the democratic rhetoric of the prefabricators.

See also:
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Computersville is almost here (1970)
Closer Than We Think! Robot Housemaid (1959)
Maid Without Tears (1978)
Living Room of the Future (1979)
The Future of Real Estate (1953)
Startling Changes in Housing in Year 2000 (Chicago Tribune, 1961)



The Air-Ship or One Hundred Years Hence (1908)

It saddens me greatly to read about films that are forever lost to deterioration. The 1984 book Yesterday's Tomorrows by Joseph J. Corn and Brian Horrigan mentions a film that was released in 1908 under the title The Air-Ship or One Hundred Years Hence. The ad below advertised the film, giving it second billing to The Great One Hand Pianist. This ad for the Electric Theatre appeared in the May 19, 1908 La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wisconsin).

Anyone with more information about this film is encouraged to fill us in. For now, let us raise our glasses to this paleo-future wonder, currently playing at The Great Showhouse in the Sky.