People complain. The future, they say, is not what it used to be. No moon base, no flying cars. We were promised jetpacks. Sure, we have pocket computers with more power than NASA had in 1969, but we hate them. They’re irritating and we mainly use them to see how much worse the world is than it was when we got up. Which it always is. We’ve got a cyberpunk dystopia on layaway, and it’s boring.
I wasn’t sold on Tomorrowland, though. I don’t miss the first futurism, so much — it could imagine soaring spires and space colonies, but not that a little girl might want to be more than a stewardess. What I do miss is hope — hope expressed in the scope of the world. There is, it appears, someone out there that has that hope. He is not an American.
Dahir Semenov is, so far as I can determine, a Russo-Turkish engineer with an eponymous company, Dahir Insaat. Its Youtube videos have delighted and puzzled the internet for some time now. Does Dahir Insaat produce prototypes? Buildings? Anything? What it does produce, for certain, are reams of CGI proposals for remaking the world.
The ideas are not what you would call, by and large, good ideas. The turnkey city plans are in the grand style of Le Corbusier, which is as much as to say that they would become hideous unlovable projects within three months. The buildings and public transportation systems defy everything we know about how people like to move and to live. And the quadcopters are … well, I have to admit, the quadcopters own pretty hard. I mean you can’t pick off every plane at an airbase this easy, you just can’t, but it’s amazing to see someone try.
What remains with me about this future that Dahir Insaat imagines is not merely that it is unapologetic, it is that it is not American. Although the videos are dubbed in English, they are mostly released in Russian and Arabic, and it is not hard to see that the Russian army is the triumphant one in the war scenarios. Never mind that the scenarios have the plausibility of the backyard setups in ‘80s toy commercials — these too are commercials, and even when commercials sell something that does not exist, the desire for it is real. Whether Dahir Insaat could ever begin to deliver on its promises, one thing is certain: these are dreams, and they are not for us, but they still are. In the black of the ocean at night, it is still a fine thing to see lights in the distance.