This article originally appeared on VICE US
This article appears in VICE Magazine's 2019 Profiles Issue. This edition looks to the future by zeroing in on the underrecognized writers, scientists, musicians, critics, and more that will shape our world next year. They are "the Other 2020" to watch. Click HERE to subscribe to the print edition.
As another year comes to an end I find myself, as many people do, trying to come to grips with what the hell actually happened over the past almost 365 days. I tend to focus on the negative—the depressing, terrifying news coverage that dominated this past year—and find myself filing 2019 away as one to be forgotten.
Naturally, the next step is to look ahead: 2020. What kind of year will this one be? Should we be hopeful? Or will similar mistakes be made? Which people, organizations, and topics will command our attention? In the United States, the 59th presidential elections will take place and the world will be watching. As usual, a lot is at stake.
But this issue of VICE, our last for 2019, isn’t focused on those political players you’re likely intimately familiar with—there are plenty of stories about them already. Instead, we wanted to focus on the other 2020: the writers, scientists, musicians, and critics and all the big ideas they’re exploring that will also shape our world. We have a feeling 2020 will be their year.
Like King Princess, the artist making queer pop anthems for the next generation. Or Moira Donegan, who came into mass public consciousness as the woman who made the Shitty Media Men list, but is creating a life inspired far more by history than virality. Then there’s Katie Porter, the U.S. representative for California’s 45th District who has become Wall Street’s worst nightmare; Kevin Esvelt, the scientist bringing morality to gene editing; Nimai Pandit, the dairy farmer who wants to sell “ethical milk” that he’s betting even vegans will drink; and Momentum, the nonprofit that is training members of every movement you’re reading about these days. We also examine people who are merging the past with the future, like climate change deniers in academia who have found themselves reinvigorated by the Trump administration, or a record label in Memphis that’s making old gospel new again.
Our issue’s design was inspired by movement: The shifting typography is meant to feel expressive and represent all stages of progress, illustrating change, from the past, present, and toward the future. The colored gradients can be viewed as a condensed timeline, with each slice of color representative of a different period, depicting constant change, evolution, and progress toward something brighter coming our way (hence the vibrant palette).
Our cover features Richard Browning, a British inventor, donning his latest creation—a jet suit called Daedalus Mark 1. Photographer Reto Sterchi traveled to the United Kingdom to document one of his test flights in action. With his invention, Browning is making human flight possible, one jet engine–powered suit at a time. We thought it was a perfect fit for our future-facing issue.
Here’s, yet again, to a new year! —Ellis Jones, Editor-in-Chief