he early 1900s brought a lot of innovation that had given high hopes to the contemporary population towards a more technological future. One of the biggest milestones to note at the time would be on December 17th, 1903 when the Wright brothers had taken off in the world’s first powered aircraft. Since ancient times, our kind has only dreamt of flying, but with this possibility proven to the world, it had really pushed the boundaries of imagination upon what would the world look like in 100 years.
This is what led to the creation of some futuristic pictures of Jean-Marc Côté dating from 1900 to 1910. These pictures had made their appearance on many different things such as cigar boxes, postcards,s and another packaging that attracted people. The series of futuristic illustrations had been not only illustrates the imagination of the artist, but also the general opinion of the western world upon how the world would look like in the year 2000.
It was not just Jean-Marc Côté, but also other French artists that had created similar illustrations, but he is the most prolific, so we are going to take a look at some of the futurist art pieces to see what influenced people to see the 21st century in such a manner and most importantly, how close had it become to predicting the early 2000s.
Flying as the main source of transport
Airplanes are definitely a big part of our lifestyle in the 21st century. It is the most convenient source of transport, especially in a world that is becoming more interconnected. Seeing the simplicity behind the engineering of the first plane and how quickly planes evolved from 1903 until 1910, the western world was more than sure that airplanes would be the main source of transport.
Of course, in 100 years the technology would skyrocket, and planes would only be one of the many ways people would fly. One of the main concepts was the invention of some sort of wings that would use a propeller, sort of like a present fly suit, but without the prop. Also taking into consideration that you would have a police officer control the traffic mid-air, this would mean that there would be a lot more people using air transport than vehicles, something that is not quite the case even to this day.
Technology at the time was new, and people would not question the safety of something, I mean let’s not forget about Franz Reichelt also known as the “Flying Tailor”. He was the creator of the parachute in 1912 and also died the same year testing his own invention by jumping off the Eiffel Tower to prove the efficiency of his invention. When the first World War came around, the people didn’t really take into consideration the mortality rate when testing out new technologies because it was a war.
A world made easier by technology
Technology brought convenience into people’s lives which overall meant a better quality of life. People dreamt that they would do a lot less work whilst technology would take their place, something that we can arguably say is currently happening. We don’t wash clothes either dishes by hand, crops are not gathered by hand any longer and we even have robots to vacuum the house.
We could say that by the year 2000 all of these things were already planned to be put into practice 10 years later. The idea of improving technology was to offer people more time, as time is the most valuable resource in life. Why should we wait weeks on end to talk to another person on the other end of the world when we should be able to communicate at an instant visually and vocally? It seems that people in the early 1900s even managed to predict our advanced source of communication present in the early 2000s.
It seems that the world from 100 years ago truly predicted that our society will be taken over by technology to the point that we are interlinked to use technology on a daily basis because it makes our lives easier. One interesting aspect at the time was the interesting perspective of neuroscience which was thinking that by the year 2000 our world would have created a way to directly transfer information from one brain to another or from a book to a brain without reading the book. Once again we see their aim of saving time by not studying, just directly digesting information.
Automation after automation, but an interesting aspect within these illustrations is that even if the world is automated, the human factor is still present to control this automation, showing that people never thought that technology could replace them by taking their jobs. Since then many jobs have disappeared due to technology, have a look at this small list of jobs you never knew existed.
Utilize the rest of Earth
The most interesting aspect for me out of all of these illustrations must be the ones where the artist shows how humans and sea creatures interact together and how some humans choose to spend most of their time underwater. Let’s not forget that 71% of Earth is made up of water and yet we barely use any of that space. The first time we explored the seafloor of an ocean was in 1872 during the Challenger Expedition.
Even to this day, 80% of the oceans remain unexplored and this is because we have taken a bigger interest in space and other planets rather than exploring our own. Although people in the early 1900s had big ambitions for the 21st century, they missed predicting flying into space. I think that if we were to be grounded by the year 2000, we would in fact be exploring our oceans and even looking at the possibilities of living underwater with sea creatures just as presented in the illustration.
Maybe the world thought that we would not face any more wars and the population would significantly expand to the point where people would be housed underwater, or just preferred to live within this vast aquatic zone.
Although this prediction may not be so close to the reality of the 21st century, they did have a realistic approach in the sense that most of the things shown in the illustrations are probably possible from a technological perspective such as jet packs instead of wings with props or living in the ocean. However, from a resource perspective, it is not convenient.
Apart from this, these illustrations are pretty spot on. I wonder what the world would look like in the year 2100 (22nd century). Let me know what you think our world would look like in the comment section below.