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Entries in omni magazine (3)

Tuesday
Aug022011

Lust in Space: Sex and the Future in Penthouse Magazine (1978)

Readers of Penthouse magazine were treated to a special "Science and the Future" issue in October of 1978, which acted as a sort of coming out party for OMNI magazine. OMNI, "a magazine of science, science fiction and the future," was launched in October, 1978 by Kathy Keeton, the future wife of Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione.

The issue included an article on robot rights, fiction by Anthony Burgess about the decline of the British Empire in 1985, hilarious 70's fashion photography of the future, a look at six different car designs of the year 2001, and a nine page preview of what makes OMNI the "first magazine of the 21st century."

As a gentleman of the post-print pornography generation, I can't say that I'm terribly familiar with Penthouse. But this issue looks like pretty standard fare with a sci-fi twist; naked women [dressed as aliens] in provocative poses, hokey cartoons, and those infamous Penthouse letters. I never thought anything futuristic like this would ever happen to me but...

 

SPACE: the final, full-frontal frontier... the last hurrah... to go where no man has ever gone before, the forbidden and yet insidiously alluring planet of NYMPHON in the second quadrant of PHI DELTA PUBIS, hard by the tumescent moons of GLUTEON MAXIMUS. It was here that I said good-bye to an intrepid friend, a great lady, whose heaving decks and smoldering afterburners had served me well -- the Yenta Prize, peripatetic mistress of the cosmic seas. I beamed down... down into the swirling, choking vapors that envelop NYMPHON, down to the very floor of this curious planet where, unused to the dense, jellylike atmosphere, I passed out.

The Star Wars cartoon below certainly reminds me of this article from 1928 about robot lovers of the future

Monday
Jul112011

David Byrne's 1987 Predictions for the Computers of 2007

The January, 1987 issue of OMNI Magazine included a cover story titled, "14 Great Minds Predict the Future." OMNI asked influential people from a variety of fields what was in store for humanity in the year 2007, twenty years into the future. There were predictions about everything from peace in the Middle East to 3D televisions.

David Byrne, lead singer and songwriter of the Talking Heads, gazed into his crystal ball to write about pop art, the future of television, and why computers will never help the creative process. With the benefit of hindsight it's a little hard to believe that Byrne was so pessimistic about the potential for computers as a creative tool, especially when futuristic designs for computers were getting so many others excited. An excerpt from the OMNI piece appears below. 

David Byrne, Lead Singer, Talking Heads

I don't think computers will have any important effect on the arts in 2007. When it comes to the arts they're just big or small adding machines. And if they can't "think," that's all they'll ever be. They may help creative people with their bookkeeping, but they won't help in the creative process.

The video revolution, however, will have some real impact on the arts in the next 20 years. It already has. Because people's attention spans are getting shorter, more fiction and drama will be done by television, a perfect medium for them. But I don't think anything will be wiped out; books will always be there; everything will find its place.

Outlets for art, in the marketplace and on television, will multiply and spread. Even the three big TV networks will feature looser, more specialized programming to appeal to special-interest groups. The networks will be freed from the need to try to please everybody, which they do now and inevitably end up with a show so stupid nobody likes it. Obviously this multiplication of outlets will benefit the arts.

I don't think we'll see the participatory art that so many people predict. Some people will use new equipment to make art, but they will be the same people who would have been making art anyway. Still, I definitely think that the general public will be interested in art that was once considered avant-garde.

Sunday
Mar272011

Ebert's Art Film Revolution (1987)

OMNI magazine interviewed Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert about the future of movies for their June, 1987 issue. Ebert makes some bold and accurate predictions about how a revolution in the delivery and distribution of movies will open up the "art film" market, allowing people greater access to movies that may not make financial sense to screen in the theaters of smaller cities. An excerpt from the interview appears below.

OMNI: How will the fierce competition between television and the movies work out in the future?

EBERT: We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it. You'll not go to a video store but instead order a movie on demand and then pay for it. Videocassette tapes as we know them now will be obsolete both for showing prerecorded movies and for recording movies. People will record films on 8mm and will play them back using laser-disk/CD technology.

I also am very, very excited by the fact that before long, alternative films will penetrate the entire country. Today seventy-five percent of the gross from a typical art film in America comes from as few as six --six-- different theaters in six different cities. Ninety percent of the American motion-picture marketplace never shows art films. With this revolution in delivery and distribution, anyone, in any size town or hamlet, will see the movies he or she wants to see. It will be the same as it's always been with books. You can be a hermit and still read any author you choose.

Later in the interview Ebert says that "by the year 2000 or so, a motion picture will cost as much money as it now costs to publish a book or make a phonograph album." Ebert was right, but it wasn't just film production and distribution costs that came down. With the rise of book self-publishing with sites like Lulu, the democratization of online music distribution with CD Baby, and the fact that I just can't keep up with the staggering volume of "puppy tries to roll over but can't OMG how adorable" videos, the internet really has fundamentally shaken up the media landscape.