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Related: aestheticization of violence - art - avant-garde - constructivism - modernism - noise music - retro-futurism

People: Luigi Russolo

Photograph of intonarumori: "intoners" or "noise machines", built by Russolo, mostly percussion, to create "noises" for performances. Unfortunately, none of his original intonarumori survived World War II.


Futurism was a 20th century art movement. Although a nascent Futurism can been seen surfacing throughout the very early years of that century, the 1907 essay Entwurf einer neuen Astetik der Tonkunst (Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music) by the Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni is sometimes claimed as its true jumping-off point. Futurism was a largely Italian movement, although it also had adherents in other countries, most notably Russia. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futurism_(art) [Feb 2005]

Art of Noise

To most people, “The Art of Noise” means one thing: British superproducer Trevor Horn's early-'80s studio group and their still-cool hit “Close to the Edit.” But the band's moniker was taken from the name of an artistic manifesto written in 1913 by a painter-turned-composer named Luigi Russolo, a member of the now-legendary Italian Futurist movement. The Futurists were strident iconoclasts who sought to represent the Machine Age staples of speed, noise and progress through aggressive, dynamic art and music. -- James Rotondi http://remixmag.com/ar/remix_luigi_russolo/ [2004]


The Futurists' glorification of modern warfare as the ultimate artistic expression and their intense nationalism allowed those of them who survived World War I to embrace Italian fascism.

Futurism influenced many other 20th century art movements, including Art Deco, Vorticism, Constructivism and Surrealism. Futurism as a coherent artistic movement is now regarded as extinct, having died out in the 1920s; many of the Futurists were killed in two world wars, and Futurism was, like science fiction, in part overtaken by 'the future'. Nonetheless the ideals of futurism remain as significant components of modern Western culture; the emphasis on youth, speed, power and technology finding expression in much of modern commercial cinema and culture. Powerful echoes of Marinetti's thought, especially his "dreamt-of metallization of the human body", also remain in Japanese culture, and surface in manga/anime and the works of artists such as Shinya Tsukamoto, director of the "Tetsuo" (lit. "Ironman") films. Futurism has produced several reactions, including the literary genre of cyberpunk - in which technology was often treated with ambivalence - whilst artists who came to prominence during the first flush of the internet, such as Stelarc and Mariko Mori, produce work which comments on futurist ideals. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futurism_%28art%29 [Mar 2005]

Futurism and music halls/variety theatre

Futurists praised the qualities of the popular entertainment of variety theatres and music halls.

Jon Savage on techno and futurism

If there is one central idea in techno, it is of the harmony between man and machine. As Juan Atkins puts it: "You gotta look at it like, techno is technological. It's an attitude to making music that sounds futuristic: something that hasn't been done before." This idea is commonplace throughout much of avant-garde 20th-century art --early musical examples include Russolo's 1913 Art of Noises manifesto and '20s ballets by Erik Satie ("Relâche") and George Antheil ("Ballet méchanique"). Many of Russolo's ideas prefigure today's techno in everything but the available hardware, like the use of nonmusical instruments in his 1914 composition, Awakening of a City. --Jon Savage in MACHINE SOUL, A History Of Techno [originally appeared in The Village Voice Summer 1993 "Rock & Roll Quarterly" insert.]

Rhys Chatham on Futurism

    The post-war period in Europe and America was indeed a momentous time for music in the sense that truly new sounds were being discovered through electronic production and extended-instrumental technique: new forms and methods of composing were being forged. Once composers began to break away from traditional modes of thinking about tonality and form, they found they needed to go to the very roots of music's definition in order to seriously question what it was supposed to be. For example, if it was possible to have a single 12-note key, was it not also possible to introduce noise into the sound palette, as suggested by Filippo Marinetti in the Futurist Manifesto? Would it be possible to have a composition whose form was about not having a form, as John Cage suggested? Could letting out a butterfly out of a jar be considered a piece of music, wondered La Monte Young?

-- Rhys Chatham

Futurism and misogyny

Mina Loy (1909), photo by Stephen Haweis

Mina Loy (December 27, 1882 - September 25, 1966) was an artist, poet, Futurist, actor, Christian Scientist, designer of lamps and bohemian extraordinaire. She was one of the last 1st generation modernists to achieve posthumous recognition. Her poetry was admired by T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mina_Loy [Apr 2005]

The Futurists’ bullish aggression and marginalization of women led to the disillusionment of many of its initial female followers, including Mina Loy. After writing a feminist Futurist manifesto and a number of important Futurist plays between 1913 and 1915, Loy left the movement and attacked its misogyny in her satirical play The Pamperers (1916). The messianic phallocentrism of the early days of the movement is summed up, perhaps unconsciously, in the final words of the manifesto: ‘Erect on the summit of the world, once again we hurl defiance to the stars!’ (Marinetti, 1996: 293). However, the often abhorrent first manifesto was also something of an aberration, as none of the subsequent manifestos contained overt misogyny, nor did they even approach the excessive aggression and right-wing political rhetoric of the first. Kirby is quick to point out that very few Futurist plays and ‘were political in any way and none was explicitly Fascist’ (1971: 5).--Futurism e-visited, Steve Dixon, http://www.brunel.ac.uk/depts/pfa/bstjournal/3no2/Papers/Steve%20Dixon.htm [offline]

Futurist architecture

Centrale elettrica (1914) - Antonio Sant'Elia

This particular drawing has the same textural qualities of the cityscapes of Italian comic creator Liberatore's RanXerox series, especially the "cracks" in the surface

Antonio Sant'Elia (April 30, 1888 - October 10, 1916) was an Italian architect. He was born in Como, Lombardy. A builder by training, he opened a design office in Milan in 1912 and became involved with the Futurist movement. Between 1912 and 1914, influenced by industrial cities of the United States and the Viennese architects Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos, he began a series of design drawings for a futuristic Città Nuova (New City) that was conceived as symbolic of a new age. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio Sant'Elia [Jan 2006]

Futurist architecture
Futurist architecture began as an early-20th century form of architecture characterized by anti-historicism and long horizontal lines suggesting speed, motion and urgency. The movement lasted in Italy from around 1909 to 1944, with works by notable figures such as architect Antonio Sant'Elia, author Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and sculptor Umberto Boccioni.

Futurism has become a broad trend in modern design which aspires to create architecture of an imagined future, normally thought to be at least 10 years into the future. The beginnings of Futurism go back to the visionary drawings of Italian architect Antonio Sant'Elia, as well as the Googie architecture of 1950s California and subsequent Space Age trends. Early features of Futurism included fins and ledges, bubble shapes and sweeping curves. The city of Brasilia, designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, is perhaps the largest implementation of futurism ever undertaken. The style has been reinterpreted by different generations of architects across several decades, but is usually marked by striking shapes, clean lines, and advanced materials.

Architects who have been influential in the futurist movement include:

Louis Armet * Welton Becket * Arthur Erickson * Wayne McAllister * Oscar Niemeyer * William Pereira
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futurist_architecture [Jan 2006]

See also: 1914 - Futurism - modern architecture - architecture


  1. Selected Poems and Related Prose () - F. T. Marinetti [Amazon US]
    F.T. Marinetti (1876-1944) is widely known as the founder of Futurism, an early twentieth-century cultural revolution. This volume, a translation of more than forty poems and prose works by Marinetti, presents premier examples of his rich poetic creations, many for the first time in English. The collection represents the entire span of the poet’s career, and it includes Marinetti’s early lyrical works, poems of battle, "Words in Freedom," and love poems to his wife. There is also a biography of Marinetti and a critical review of his poetic accomplishment.

    F.T. Marinetti (1876-1944) is widely known as the founder of Futurism, an early-20th-century cultural revolution. This volume, a translation of more than 40 poems and prose works by Marinetti, is designed to present premier examples of his rich poetic creations, translated into English. The collection represents the entire span of the poet's career, and it includes Marinetti's early lyrical works, poems of battle, "Words in Freedom", and love poems to his wife.

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