Rebuilding the Universal Trampoline: Machine Dreams in 1925 and Digital Anxieties in 2005

By:
James Reeves
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Here is a timeworn observation: Technology has completely reconfigured our culture and it continues to evolve at breakneck speed, leaving us little time to catch our breaths and assess its full potential and pitfalls. This was just as true in 1925 as it is in 2005. If today’s digital world is to be intelligently constructed and happily inhabited, we must not forget the initial impact of radio waves and telegraph cables. The early Modernist design movements embraced new technologies as the path toward realizing their visions of utopia, whether it was the machine-driven bedlam of the Futurists, the eager Constructivist factory “where a gigantic trampoline is being created for the leap into universal human culture,” or the Bauhaus promise of “a new unity” between art and technology.

What is our vision today? Who is holding the roadmap? Where are the earnest and hopeful manifestos for better living through technology? This paper explores the optimistic Modernist notions of a technology-driven revolution in the social, political, and personal realms of the future – and compares these romantic visions to our faith and fears about technology today.


Keywords: Design History, Social Science, Design Education, Politics, New Technology, History, Modernism, Postmodernism
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Rebuilding the Universal Trampoline


James Reeves

Visiting Instructor, Art & Design Education, Pratt Institute
USA

James is a design educator, graphic/interactive designer, and co-founder of the NYC art/design collective Red Antenna. He holds a B.F.A. in Graphic Design from the University of Michigan and a M.S. in Art & Design Education from the Pratt Institute. He currently teaches a graduate course on the History of Design Literature and an undergraduate course in instructional technology at the Pratt Institute. He lives and works in Brooklyn.

Ref: T05P0124