Futurisms: Film, Architecture and Urbanisms

As history marches on, all kinds of things get lost, including our future. Dredging the archives, German curator Marc Glode found an assortment of visionary films of great things to come. Sci-fi epics Things to Come (1936) and Metropolis (1926) envisioned the future as oversized. They constructed streamlined but monumentally large sets. But in each movie, the utopian architecture is undermined by the oppressive new social orders needed to sustain it.

Other examples of monumental architecture were the plans to restructure many German cities for the Third Reich. Due to his heinous war record, Hitler’s mania for urban planning is often overlooked. He spent many a pleasant day poring over architectural models when he should have been managing the war. (Lucky for us.) One of the most popular Nazi propaganda films, Das Wort aus Stein (1938) seamlessly superimposes these models onto the photos of the actual streets they were to transform. Not an easy technical achievement back then. Representing the dangerously heroic ideals of the Third Reich, mammoth white buildings, wide boulevards and manicured gardens replace old town squares as an Aryan symphony swells.

In the early 1970s, the Italian architectural collective Superstudio produced Fundamental Acts, a series of short films explaining their vision of architectural systems based on the immaterial. In a hilarious barrage of preposterous theory, these new age infomercials posit an ephemeral life (without things) lived within a network of human interaction. In Supersurface, hippies and their kids perform their daily rituals in an invisible house, living out a fabled but unfathomable existence.

Rounding out the show was Futuro, a 1998 documentary about a round plastic house called the Futuro. Developed in the late 1960s in Finland as a mountain cabin, it featured round windows, retractable sleeping pads and a drawbridge-like staircase, and it resembled a flying saucer. Marketing blunders and a global economic downturn due to the oil crisis undermined its global sales campaign. But the many Futuro prototypes found other uses such as a set for a space age S&M porno and a spaceship to fly Santa into Estonia. A group of artists including Andy Warhol conferred in a Futuro and Cristo wrapped it. (Linda Feesey)

Curated by Marc Glode (Co-presented by the Goethe Institute and Images Festival)