Wednesday 21 June 2023

The Electric Hotel by Segundo de Chomón

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. So goes the adage that Westerners like to tell themselves, spoken by Science Fiction authors channelling the spirits of racial "scientists" of a century past who saw others only as ignorant savages. While those "savages" were well aware that the man holding the box that made images of them was simply the owner of a technology, the adage has gotten a fair bit of mileage in the Western world as a means for updating old tricks. What was once magic became alchemy became science!.

For Segundo de Chomón, science was useful in giving a gloss to his cinematic world of trick photography. Instead of a demon-infested inn, his hotel would be a supermodern marvel automated by electricity! How else to explain all the nifty stop-motion work throughout, except that sufficiently advanced technology can produce limitless marvels?

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Moscow in the XXIII Century

William Gibson once described Science Fiction not as true speculation about the future, but rather, the colonization of the future with the present. A dramatic example of this truism can be found in the postcard series Moscow in the XXIII Century, produced in 1914.  

Published by Einem, one of the biggest and most popular confectionary brands in Russia, these cards purported to show the grand Russian capital as it would become between 2114 and 2259... The same mixed image of metropolitan futurism with the social and aesthetic conventions of the day seen in the French En L'An 2000 card series. Unfortunately, Einem could not predict that a scant three years after production of these cards, the blight of Communism would seize Russia, murdering tens of millions and dashing any such hopes as these. Whereas En L'An 2000 has a wistful air, Moscow in the XXIII Century has a tragic one. 

Eight cards were produced in the series, collected here...