The Imaginary Twentieth Century
/// 2007 /// Interactive Installation and Fourteen Animations
/// Margo Bistis, Norman M. Klein, Andreas Kratky

The Imaginary Twentieth Century

The perspectives of the 19th century about the imagined 20th century already anticipated the dominating technological tendencies of the 20th century: mobilization and personalization, organization of the world according to the individual user.
In the years between 1893 and 1926 in Europe and America there were an infinite number of ideas about the 20th century which were repeated and overlapped in endless variations. The overall impression one has of these future visions is astonishment. In the installation The Imaginary Twentieth Century, the power which drives these voyages through the phantoms of an imaginary future is a science fiction narrative. It deals with the picturesque adventures of a woman who, in the year 1901 allows herself to be guided by four admirers and by her personal versions of the new century. The bizarre meta-journey across various centuries, continents, historical events and recollections, imaginary worlds and utopian fantasies draws on a large interactive data bank with over 2000 pictures: illustrations, caricatures, photographs, films, advertising graphics, industrial design, urban planning, fantastical and utopian novels of the first half of the 20th century supply the pictorial material.
The Imaginary Twentieth Century presents itself in a new narrative form commensurate with the digital age. The installation comprises fourteen projections on a hot-air balloon and an interactive installation. The work is a stage for the illusion of selective possibilities in a world of absolute predetermination. The revived phantom of collective 20th century imagination invites the viewer of the 21st century to take an ironic and sometimes bizarre journey.
(Text: Andreas Kratky)

Margo Bistis (*1959 in Boston) doctor in art history and freelance curator. Her publications include essays on Henri Bergson, Georg Simmel, modernity and on caricature. In 2003, she was assistant curator for the exhibition Comic Art: The Paris Salon in Caricature at the Getty Research Library in Los Angeles.

Norman M. Klein (*1945 in Brooklyn, New York) critic, urban- and media historian and author. His books include, among others, The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory, Seven Minutes: The Life and Death of the American Animated Cartoon, The Vatican to Vegas: The History of Special Effects, Freud in Coney Island and Other Tales und Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles, 1920–86.


Andreas Kratky (*1970 in Berlin) freelance media artist and Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California. His works include award-winning projects such as the interactive costume projection of the The Jew of Malta, or Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles, 1920–86, and interactive installations such as Soft Cinema – Navigating the Database and Title TK.

Margo Bistis, Curator / Norman M. Klein, Novelist / Andreas Kratky, Media artist

A map of the world as seen by him, James Montgomery Flagg, Life Publishing, 1905

Margo Bistis/Norman M. Klein/Andreas Kratky, The Imaginary Twentieth Century, 2007, Interactive Installation and Fourteen Animations, loaned by the artists