We’ve certainly done our fair share of “moonbag gendankenexperiments” on these pages previously, but now let’s try looking waaayyyy further out: let’s look down the road so many generations that financial returns couldn’t possibly have any bearing, to a time and place where only cultural returns have meaning.
So instead of selecting artefacts (or abilities) intended for the generations we can actually touch and feel – the ones we’re so inextricably connected to and who must clearly bear the torch of humanity after we depart – let’s attempt to engage with future civilisations so far into that future that they couldn’t help but see our present moment as entirely foreign, or at least as foreign as early Medieval Crusaders are to us. Hard to imagine, right?i But fun to try!
So how could we best convey our short blip on the continuum of civilisation to the year 3024 AD, what with all its presumably advanced
technology magic? What physical expressions of our culture do we feel best capture our cultural zeitgeist in 2024?
With that, here’s your humble author’s Time Capsule Artefacts for the Fourth Millennium:
1. Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic:
The most beautiful car ever built, commissioned by none less than Baron Victor Rothschild in 1936, based on the Elektron(!)-bodiedii Aerolithe concept from 1935, and overall a sterling example of the type of machine that has come to dominate the shapes of our urban experiences more than any other. Of course this cultural automobile-obsession may just be a passing fad, but in the meantime it still represents emancipation from fixed location better than just about anything else.iii And from every angle!
2. Silly/funny family photo:
Why silly/funny? Because, for the most part at least, the past is always considered too seriously (if its considered at all) and we moderns (ie. woke, humourless, standing in line to pay $50k for mid-ass party invites)iv all too easily forget that earlier times were much, much funnier than current times (mostly because death was closer then and humans are really just the animal that laughs… laughs to forget his mortality…). Also, fun is weirdly powerful. Just ask Elon!v
3. Vacheron Constantin 57260:
As tempting as it is to pick an “everyman” choice like the Rolex Daytona 116595RBOW-0002vi to represent the mass-market moment that is 2024, the highest heights of our culture’s potential (and horological obsession) are much better embodied in the most complicated pocketwatch ever manufactured by mankind, one boasting a Henry-Graves-Supercomplication-topping 57 complications in its beefy 98mm x 50.55mm case, including a Hebraic perpetual calendar functioning on a 19-year Metonic cycle with accommodation (and indicator!) for years with either 12 or 13 months (link).
4. Hand-cranked vinyl record player:
Music, unlike physical art and architecture, is all too easily lost to the sands of time. What kind of music did the Pharoahs listen to during the Exodus? Enquiring minds reading Haggadotvii would like to know! But which music from our current moment should we select? Personally, tempting as it is to throw in a Deafbeef vinyl record, that might be a bit too, how shall we say, “recherche.” So keeping it more mainstream is Electronic Dance Music (EDM)viii for more of a “pop” flavour but then also an equal sampling of Classical Music and Big Band Jazz, both of which are the literal foundations of yours truly’s mental clarity and sanity while spending time with family in the house or while commuting in the car. What kind of music would you pick?
5. Costumes from the movie Fifth Element (1997):
Designed by Jean Paul Gauthier for the film, set in the year 2263 AD, these costumesix represent perhaps our craziest and most comedic interpretation of costuming and visual culture in the distant-ish future. It’s like early 1900s drawings of flying cars in the year 2000, but nuclear-powered in its sexuality and silliness and strapped to our skin, and what’s not to love about that? Frankly, if this lonely little sci-fi film is any indication, the world in 2024 ought to be doing a much better job of dreaming about the distant-ish future than it is currently. Obviously, we’re doing what we can on these pages to correct this oversight, but here’s hoping that the 2040s (or 50s?) are more like the 1990s in that respect, and for
more people of the best among us.
Feel free to leave your own artefacts in the comments.
- Think about it this way: doesn’t Julius Caesar or Jesus Christ seem hugely closer in our historical imaginations to the times of Leif Erikson or William the Conqueror than to our own? And yet the latters were essentially smack dab in the middle! So too will future civilisations see our own primitive moment as closer to that of spear-chucking Neanderthals than their nuclear- (and solar)-powered superage. Surely! ↩
- Elektron = 98% Magnesium and 2% Aluminum… a super combustible combination, thus the rivets! ↩
- Except a Boeing 787? Which could work as a time capsule artefact too! but I just get the sense that 1) we’d need a much, much bigger time capsule, and 2) a jet-powered airplane is just much less functionally legible? ↩
- To quote from a recent piece:
Even the most spiritual of systems needs to concentrate physically somewhere – whether that’s Jerusalem or Vatican or Giza or Mecca or Davos – which is why BAYC/MB primary value prop was “parties” (that fry your eyeballs… in more ways than one). And why NFT Paris and Art Basel Miami are probably only going to increase in relevance and importance in the coming decades of digital art (aka inutile systems manifestations). Why? Because there still exist expressions that we can’t express… codes that we can’t code… and networks that grow only from touch and feel and SMELL. No amount of Terminator-esque/Her-esque/ReadyPlayerOne-esque futures seem likely to disrupt the divine power of kinetics, in our lifetimes at least.
- Per CEBK on the back of Tucker’s (lulzy?) Putin interview:
You’re much more powerful when you’re having fun. Funny memes about Putin—“pro” or “con”—are much more “useful” than handwringing “analysis” (& are also much more free to be interesting instead of just “yay” or “boo”). The web should bring your day brief bits of exuberant thought
— CEBK CEBK (@CEBKCEBKCEBK) February 10, 2024
- What happens when you take the most world’s most important mass-market men’s jewelry brand, take their most iconic model, glitz it up to 11 and voila! : this full-bling RBOW is our ideal manifestation of peacocking and male decoration. Will it look as ridiculous to the fourth millennialists as ornate rapiers do to us? Almost surely. Per Zohar & co: men don’t have swords on their hips to flex valour/status anymore, but we do have wristwatches! What does that say about our contemporary culture? Mostly that we’re efficiency-obssesed, always looking to optimise our time in the relentless (and impossible) pursuit of eternity.
- Speaking of multiple Haggadahs, I recently came across this 500-year-old example at The Met in NYC while touring the exhibitions with my good man NFTier. Check it!
- Let’s say Tiesto, Hardwell, Axwell or even the whole Apple Music Pure Dance Row playlist, the literal foundation of my physical fitness since I got bored of hip-hop/rap in the last 1-2 years. ↩
- As more fully outlined by Gabriela Silva. ↩