Real & Imagined Histories

What came first, reality or fiction?
How does the past inform the present and influence the future?

Date Completed
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My team and I were asked to create a visual timeline that looks back 100 years and forward 100 years. We chose to map the history and future of innovation through the lens of our favourite science fiction movies. Because we believe that fiction helps shape our reality.

The books we read, the movies we watch, the worlds we inhabit in our imaginations all have an influence on tomorrow. The descriptions and visualizations of future innovations aren’t just good fiction, the narratives help define our future realities. This data visualization shows how complex and far-reaching the interplay between fiction and reality actually is.

The timeline maps the science-fiction movies we’ve watched, and the innovations the films depicted. The arcs drawn from certain films show when the fictional events were set temporally —illustrating when we imagined our future histories. The timeline also blocks out technological eras, and features real technological milestones over the 20th and 21st centuries —contextualizing what may have influenced and inspired fictional ideas, or vice versa. As a whole, the data visualization presents the relationships between innovations realized, the adjacent possible, and the fantastical imaginary.

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