The Arcade Machine as a Monolith
Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey” is as symbolic as it is a masterpiece. The most memorable icon in the film (and perhaps the most memorable icon in film history) is The Monolith; a giant rectangular machine built by an alien species that when in contact with humanoids— motivates them to progress in technology and the science of time travel.
This slab is reminiscent of the rectangular smartphones that we all carry with us everywhere we go. These structures are symbolic of the technological achievement that humanity has given us, reminding us of the ominous quality of technology in the postmodern era.
For many of us, the first monolith was not the smartphone, but instead was the Arcade Cabinet we saw in pubs, laundromats, and game centers. Arcade Cabinets were rectangular technological monoliths in their own right, seeming to be from the future and operating as gateways to the futuristic and fantastic.
Perhaps ironically, these monoliths of yesterday are not gateways to our future but nostalgic relics that transport us to our past.
This is Arcadism: The study of how Arcades operate as symbols within culture.
When we truly think about it, we discover that perhaps the arcade gives a community their first true engagement with technology as a collective— Before the home computer, Arcade cabinets made us gather round in fascination and awe… It made everyone imagine what might be possible in the future.
What will the world look like in 2001?
Written for gengargengargengargengar