What is Retrofuturism?

The simplest definition is: Retrofuturism is the future as envisioned by the past.

Retrofuturism itself can be broken down into two subcategories:

Artifacts – These are film/video, books, magazines, advertisements, products, and more from the past that envision future technology and society.

Retrofuturist Genre – These are modern day art, literature, film, and more that mimic retro styles and visions of the future. By some definitions, this can also include the flip side of that (often seen in Steampunk works) where modern or futuristic technologies are applied to a historic time.

Subgeneres include:

  • Steampunk – Victorian era
  • Dieselpunk – Period between World War I and World War II
  • Decopunk – 1920s – 1950s, a shinier version of Dieselpunk
  • Atompunk – 1945 – 1965
  • Raygun Gothic – Visual style with aspects of Googie, Streamline Moderne, and Art Deco styles

What is Dieselpunk?

Dieselpunk, a successor sub-culture to the Steampunk movement, is growing in popularity. As with Steampunk, the “punk” element refers to the reinvention of the future, in this case with the aesthetics of the interwar years in the U.S. This was the period of the Chrysler building, of thrilling new technologies in the air, of the explosion in production of the internal combustion engine, and of sinister but exciting new arms. This was the era of Detroit; jazz, big band, and swing; and glamorous transatlantic travel; as well as true movie stars, Prohibition, radio, skyscrapers, outrageously impressive cars, and serious talk of going to the moon. More than anything this was the era when U.S. power was unchallenged industrially, militarily, and culturally, and when the future too was all-American.