2020 has been a year of unexpected twists and turns. With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing and the disastrous effects of climate change worsening, it’s hard to picture what the world will look like in the next few months, let alone years. But a group of artists are already looking ahead to 2120. Across two decks of cards from Playing Arts, graphic designers and illustrators have imagined what the world will look like in 100 years.
Vlad Korzinin of Playing Arts, a collective art project that asks designers around the world to contribute work to different playing card decks, says he was inspired by a series of postcards created by French artists between 1899 and 1910 that envisioned what the world would look like in the year 2000. The illustrations imagined robotic cleaning machines, homes on wheels, an underwater whale bus, and aviation police flying around the air.
Korzinin stumbled upon these images in March, and as the world went into COVID-19 lockdown, he thought, “This is what I need to do, I need to ask artists what they think about the future,” he says. The Playing Arts team launched a design competition and invited artists across the world to participate, and 299 artists, designers, and studios ultimately submitted their work for the Future decks.
One design for the six of clubs shows a windmill as the suit symbol, with the blades made of leaves. “In 100 years the wind energy will be normal as the electric light,” artist Jaiver Perez from Ecuador wrote about his design. “It has become a key electricity generation resource for the transformation of the energetic model, cleaner and more sustainable.” For one eight of hearts design, a person stands outside a spaceship on a red planet, looking at a new city. “Maybe in 100 years, technology will have advanced enough to colonize other planets,” artist Peter Cobb from Spain writes.
Others are not as optimistic. An eight of spades shows water rising up to the eyes of the Statue of Liberty, depicting drastic sea level rise of the future. A king of diamonds imagines artificial intelligence as the rulers of our society, “always vigilant, always present,” artist Raul Gil from Spain writes, “nothing escapes its control from its octahedral cubicle.” On one six of spades, a man sits atop a trash heap floating on the ocean, refuse floating around him. “My illustration shows our dire fate,” artist Cuong Bui Manh from Germany writes. “In a world swallowed by the sea, the only place mankind has left is the waste it left in its wake.”
Cards portray the usual futuristic images of robots, flying cars, aliens, and technological advancements. Many artists imagined a future of unity, where the world is more connected to each other and to nature, and some are already anticipating the next pandemic, and the ways our bodies might change to be half-machine for disease immunity or the high-tech face masks that might become the norm.
The Future decks are now in production and available for preorder. This was the first Playing Arts project for which there was a theme; some designs are more realistic and others are a bit more conceptual, but either way, Korzinin hopes it spurs people to think ahead. Amid what have been undeniably a tough few months, “It’s the best year to think about the future,” he says.