Retrofuturistic depiction of a flying locomotive, in a dieselpunk style reminiscent of the early 1940s
Retrofuturism (adjective retrofuturistic or retrofuture) is a movement in the creative arts showing the influence of depictions of the future produced in an earlier era. If futurism is sometimes called a 'science' bent on anticipating what will come, retrofuturism is the remembering of that anticipation." Characterized by a blend of old-fashioned "retro styles" with futuristic technology, retrofuturism explores the themes of tension between past and future, and between the alienating and empowering effects of technology. Primarily reflected in artistic creations and modified technologies that realize the imagined artifacts of its parallel reality, retrofuturism can be seen as "an animating perspective on the world". However, it has also manifested in the worlds of fashion, architecture, design, music, literature, film, and video games.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an early use of the term appears in a Bloomingdales advertisement in a 1983 issue of The New York Times. The ad talks of jewellery that is "silverized steel and sleek grey linked for a retro-futuristic look". In an example more related to retrofuturism as an exploration of past visions of the future, the term appears in the form of “retro-futurist” in a 1984 review of the film Brazil in The New Yorker. Critic Pauline Kael writes, "[Terry Gilliam] presents a retro-futurist fantasy."
Several websites have referenced a 1967 book published by Pelican Books called "Retro-Futurism" by T. R. Hinchliffe as the originator of the term, but this account is unverified. There exist no records of this book or author.