The only thing we know about the future is that it is going to be different
- Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (1973), Pt. 1, Ch. 4.
The above message, written in the past concerning the future, is spoken by a speech synthesis algorithm unavailable in 1973. The message is recorded and amplified on cassette tape recorders produced between 1968 and 1979. At their time, these technological artifacts were material participants in the imagination of “The Future” through both function and visual design. Today, they have become obsolete and fashionable several times over.
These recording technologies condense time, allowing the past sentiment about the future into the present, while simultaneously amplifying time-difference through the sonic signifier of recorded fidelity. Taking advantage of the mechanical systems at play, Drucker’s statement continually scrambles itself in time – creating unpredictable sense, non-sense, and new-sense – illustrating that indeed, the only thing we know about the future is that it is different, although perhaps not in the ways we expect it to be. Ironically, without prescience or clairvoyance, this knowledge is only known through contemplation of the past. – Adam Basanta