In October, 2016 online publication The Intercept obtained a video made by the Pentagon for an internal military audience. The 5 minute video, titled “Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity,” presents a view of the future, specifically of global cities: “The video is nothing if not an instant dystopian classic: melancholy music, an ominous voiceover, and cascading images of sprawling slums and urban conflict. ‘Megacities are complex systems where people and structures are compressed together in ways that defy both our understanding of city planning and military doctrine,’ says a disembodied voice. ‘These are the future breeding grounds, incubators, and launching pads for adversaries and hybrid threats.’”
Used by the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations University as a training guide against “The Emerging Terrorism Threat,” the video gives us a clue into just how our militaries are preparing for the future. From The Intercept: “‘This is the world of our future,’ warns the narrator of ‘Megacities.’ ‘It is one we are not prepared to effectively operate within and it is unavoidable. The threat is clear. Our direction remains to be defined. The future is urban.’”
This is where we begin. Throughout the month of February, as part of Echo Park Film Centre’s Marvelous Movie Mondays, I will present three alternative visualizations of what the future might look like as proposed by media artists. I see visualizing the future as a strategy for creating it – a way to see the potentials for how it might be, how it could be, and to help us to imagine strategies that might make it better. And, as it is no doubt clear from your various social media feeds, we need alternative visualizations now more than ever.
With notes from:
Turse, Nick. “Pentagon Video Warns of “Unavoidable” Dystopian Future for World’s Biggest Cities.” The Intercept. 13 Oct. 2016.
Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity: https://vimeo.com/187093104