Shanghai’s Retro-Futures: The Demise of Progress in a Progressive Age

Dr. Rinaldi's Horror Cabinet

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Shanghai is a city hungry for the future. To get a taste, head to the heights of the financial district in Pudong’s Lujiazui. At dusk, the view from the ninety-first floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center is fantastically alien. Outside the enormous windows, the metropolis stretches out like an off-world fantasy; a film apparition of a science-fiction city.

– Anna Greenspan,   Shanghai Future

Reading Anna Greenspan’s Shanghai Future: Modernity Remade which is a great introduction not only to Shanghai, but to the underpinnings of our current malaise regarding the future itself (here she speaks of the old World Fairs of previous eras):

Today, in the developed world at least, this progressive optimism strikes many as archaic, absurd and shockingly naïve. It is not so much that GM’s vision of the 1960s is outmoded— after all the Futurama pavilion foreshadowed the immensely transformative US interstate highway system, which was built…

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