Backwards and forwards in [social] time: two different artists’ impressions

This week I came across two very different works of art which nevertheless have something important in common: they both aim to transcend the shackles of linear time and peak into another historic period with the help of artistic (and sociological!) imagination.

The first one is a now outdated look into the future. It is always fascinating to see how our life today differs (or is similar to) what our great-grand parents imagined it. Think about how you imagine the year 2100. In 1910, the French painter Villemard produced a series of futuristic postcards with his vision of life in 2000. What is most fascinating is that most of his predictions have come true: the imagery is different, but the technical functionality of today’s world is heavily based on the reveries of our Victorian ancestors. The future is to a large extent a self-fulfilling prophecy – at least within a the framework of a modern society !

See the collection of 20 postcards here and on flickr

The second time-erasing magic is in the works of Russian photographer Sergey Larenkov (Сергей Ларенков). He replicates with amazing precision existing images taken during the Second World War by retaking the shots from the same perspective and angle today, and merges the old and new images. (Larenkov is not even a professional photographer: he is a sea pilot whose hobby is history! Check out his website here) Twenty of his photos were initially posted here and a little later the author also gave an interview to the Mymodernnet website which can be read here.
Photo: Sergey Larenkov. Source:

What do you think? Do you have interesting visual materials – yours, or gems that you have found on the web? Email us on and we’ll feature them in our Visual Sociology column!

Categories: The Idle Ethnographer, Visual Sociology

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