PDA

View Full Version : Works of art: how to tell when we're good at something



LotusExcelle
2008-Sep-25, 10:52 AM
This is really just a playful kind of theory of mine. It goes roughly like this: you can tell how good humans are at something by how something looks. Take cars for example: early in their construction they were purely functional. Now they are rolling works of art. Airplanes are finally (thanks primarily, I think, to Burt Rutan) becoming artful in their design. Eventually I think spaceships will too.

Remember the old streamliner trains? Lovely things, those.


Anyway just a little thought I had about things. how long before spaceships become interplanetary Ferraris?

Fazor
2008-Sep-25, 03:14 PM
how long before spaceships become interplanetary Ferraris?

Probably as soon as there's enough competing companies making them. I think what drives design (from the asthetic standpoint) is competiton, not so much "we're good at doing this so lets get fancy". I mean, obviously you have to know what you're doing (function before beauty).

But as soon as you have a handfull of other companies selling the same thing that you are, you have to find ways to set your product apart.

Just my 2cents.

PetersCreek
2008-Sep-25, 03:44 PM
Airplanes are finally (thanks primarily, I think, to Burt Rutan) becoming artful in their design.

I'll disagree with you here, thinking that you do aviation history an injustice. I've known many aircraft in which the blending of beauty and function was nothing less than artful.

MAPNUT
2008-Sep-25, 03:50 PM
I think it will be a century or more before spaceships are artful by intent. That's because of the incredible costs of boosting anything into space; anything that isn't strictly functional will have a huge cost in weight. No one's going to be looking at it for very long anyway. This won't change until some breakthrough in physics occurs to make spaceflight much cheaper.

And most of the artistry in aircraft comes from streamlining. That's not much of an issue in space.

LotusExcelle, I think by "when we're good at something" you mean when we've mastered the fundamentals and can afford to have some fun.

Fazor
2008-Sep-25, 04:25 PM
LotusExcelle, I think by "when we're good at something" you mean when we've mastered the fundamentals and can afford to have some fun.

That's how I took it aswell

cjl
2008-Sep-25, 06:04 PM
So neither of these (both fairly old) designs are beautiful?

http://www.kodak.com/US/images/en/corp/1000words/steveDilullo/P51_F15_Heritage_Flight.jpg

Larry Jacks
2008-Sep-25, 07:43 PM
Airplanes are finally (thanks primarily, I think, to Burt Rutan) becoming artful in their design. Eventually I think spaceships will too.

The Supermarine Spitfire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Supermarine_Spitfire_Mk_XVI.jpg) is an amazingly beautiful plane. So is the Concorde (http://www.airliners.net/photo/British-Airways/Aerospatiale-BAC-Concorde-102/1341004&tbl=photo_info&photo_nr=9&sok=WHERE__%28aircraft_generic_%3D_%27Aerospatiale-BAC_Concorde%27%29_&sort=_order_by_photo_id_DESC_&prev_id=1341141&next_id=1340597) and the SR-71 Blackbird (http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.globalaircraft.org/photos/planephotos/sr-71_1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.globalaircraft.org/planes/sr-71_blackbird.pl&h=331&w=442&sz=28&tbnid=ZG-HNRgnF4wJ::&tbnh=95&tbnw=127&prev=/images%3Fq%3D%252B%2522SR-71%2BBlackbird%2522%2Bphoto&hl=en&usg=__PalNfIj9C9_5-dvWIyi8uSXQ7RI=&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=3&ct=image&cd=1) (IMO). A high performance sailplane (http://www.sailplanedirectory.com/images/asw27-2.jpg) is also beautiful. There are countless examples from aviation history to the present day (including many of Rutan's designs but by no means all of them (http://www.steenaero.com/Files/Articles/sport_av_1998-12_eaa_honors_aviations_greats_pitts_9.jpg)) that are beautiful.

Since most spacecraft don't have to deal with an atmosphere, there's no need for streamlining. That means trying to make a spacecraft pretty is a waste of mass and money. When it costs many thousand dollars per kilogram to get something to LEO, any beauty is purely coincidental.

mugaliens
2008-Sep-25, 08:54 PM
Take cars for example: early in their construction they were purely functional.

Oh, I wouldn't say that. Check out this picture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Benz-1.jpg)of the first wheeled vehicle with an internal combustion engine.

I find it to be quite artful, and amazingly elegant for a "purely functional" design.

(tongue in cheek, there as it's clear the design was every bit as asthetic as it was functional).

mike alexander
2008-Sep-25, 09:02 PM
But I think I see what you're getting at LotusExcelle. The blending of design and function to produce something both useful and pleasant. Typewriters come to mind, moving from an Underwood #5
http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/9303/number5rc8.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

to an IBM Selectric.

http://img140.imageshack.us/img140/313/selectricxa1.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

jokergirl
2008-Sep-27, 07:12 AM
I actually think that cars are a lot more functionally built now than they were when they were first invented. It is hard to put any real beauty into them these days when fuel consumption (streamlining) and safety (crunch zones and airbags) are so much more important than they were in the beginning.

There are some beautiful cars out there, but most mass-produced cars clearly lack something. Oh yes, there is design, but beauty?

;)

Whirlpool
2008-Sep-27, 09:41 AM
And if you want a car that is a " Beauty " , you have to really spend Big time for that. But these prevailing economic crisis , I think people now are more practical .

Romanus
2008-Sep-27, 04:22 PM
Lots of good posts here; I can only add to what others have said: spaceships will be beautiful when, like cars, they are cheap enough and common enough to become another way of expressing conspicuous consumption. In other words, when cruising in LEO or cislunar space is a leisure option as routine (for some) as a yacht trip across the Pacific. Unfortunately, barring some unforseen CATS breakthrough, I don't see that happening for many decades, if ever.

tdvance
2008-Sep-27, 05:57 PM
How about, "you can tell how good we are at something when the primary reason for choosing one brand over the other is how it looks".

Desktop computers aren't there yet because people buy PCs more than the Macs which Apple focuses more attention to styling on. On the other hand, the I-pod, I've read, is popular largely because of how it looks, so mp-3 players are pretty close to the limit of what we can market.

Euniculus
2008-Sep-27, 06:09 PM
My "art" is not visible per se. Since I'm a drug compounder the way I know a good job was done is if the person/pet feels better.

Now, if I do a crappy job one of three things happens: nothing, they get worse, they die.

No pressure!

Nicolas
2008-Sep-27, 08:01 PM
Design is an art. Take for example the audio department of Yamaha. Somehow, they managed to keep a consistent design from the late 70's until now, and it never has been outdated, always en vogue but always according to the traditional yamaha looks. And about the only company that can make a low- to mid-price slimline DVD player look distinctive. Sony managed to do that as well, once. The rest, well, I guess they do their best...

I agree with the general statement that we start to include attractive design once we master the functional basics.

novaderrik
2008-Sep-27, 09:26 PM
Airplanes are finally (thanks primarily, I think, to Burt Rutan) becoming artful in their design.

i've always found the A10 Warthog to be a beautiful plane- probably because it's form is so perfectly matched to it's function.
i like to call it "beautiful brutality"...
http://lh6.ggpht.com/Nitro2k/Rt6uNJJbDMI/AAAAAAAAAcI/SmcbWH3YX7s/s800/A10Thunderbolt2_990422-F-7910D-517.jpg

hey, i think i just thought up a cool name for a death metal band with a hot female singer- or at least the name for the new Slayer album.

Cougar
2008-Sep-27, 10:14 PM
i've always found the A10 Warthog to be a beautiful plane....

Ain't nobody gonna be messin' with that bad boy.

KaiYeves
2008-Sep-28, 01:38 AM
I think it's hard to judge if something you built is beautiful until a few days after you've finished it. When you've just finished something, you're just so proud of yourself that anything looks good if it works. For example, the model I just built of the Hubble looks very nice to me now, but in a few days, I may realize that it is really only cardboard, plastic and duct tape.

Ozzy
2008-Sep-28, 02:38 AM
c'mon

Do you think the majority of today's tin cans on wheels can hold a patch to Detroit's finest from the 1950's.

I hope my personal space craft has ornamental fins and lots of chrome.

Neverfly
2008-Sep-28, 03:09 AM
c'mon

Do you think the majority of today's tin cans on wheels can hold a patch to Detroit's finest from the 1950's.

I hope my personal space craft has ornamental fins and lots of chrome.

Yes, I was staring at the Underwood Mike Alexander had posted drooling...

THAT'S a piece of equipment.http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/emoticons7/38.gif
Wouldn't look bad with a secretary for that matter...:think:

eric_marsh
2008-Sep-29, 03:12 AM
This is the premise used in the series Babylon 5. That the older space faring races had spacecraft technology so completely developed that aesthetics became a major component of design.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1c/Babylon_5_-_White_Star.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/eb/Minbwacr_lg1.jpg

novaderrik
2008-Sep-29, 09:46 AM
don't forget about the ships in the new Star Wars movies- it was a time of relative peace and prosperity, so the ships were all sleek and artsy looking. by the time of the original movies- after a generation of what was essentially civil war- the ships were less sleek and more functional.