Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future

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Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future

Post by bystander » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:06 pm

Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
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Re: Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future

Post by neufer » Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:08 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chesley_Bonestell wrote:
<<Chesley Knight Bonestell, Jr. (January 1, 1888 – June 11, 1986) was dubbed the "Father of Modern Space art." Bonestell was born in San Francisco, California. His first astronomical painting was done in 1905. After seeing Saturn through the 12-inch (300 mm) telescope at San Jose's Lick Observatory, he rushed home to paint what he had seen. The painting was destroyed in the fire that followed the 1906 earthquake.

Bonestell studied architecture at Columbia University in New York City. Dropping out in his third year, he worked as a renderer and designer for several of the leading architectural firms of the time. While with William van Alen, he and Warren Straton designed the art deco façade of the Chrysler Building as well as its distinctive eagles. During this same period, he designed the U.S. Supreme Court Building and several state capitols.

Returning to the West Coast, he prepared illustrations of the chief engineer's plans for the Golden Gate Bridge for the benefit of funders. When the Great Depression dried up architectural work in the United States, Bonestell went to England, where he rendered architectural subjects for the Illustrated London News. In the late 1930s he moved to Hollywood, where he worked (without screen credit) as a special effects artist, creating matte paintings for films, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). In 1986, Bonestell died in Carmel, California, with an unfinished painting on his easel.>>
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Re: Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future

Post by Ann » Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:10 am

I didn't see much of Chesley Bonestell when I grew up, but what little I saw touched me deeply. It sparked my first interest in astronomy.

Chesley Bonestell brought home the "reality" of other worlds. One problem though, which wasn't his fault, was that it made many individual objects in space seem equally "reachable" to humans. So when American astronauts landed on the Moon in 1969, but left the Moon in 1972 and didn't go on to visit Mars and Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, some people whose astronomical sagacity had been formed by the images of Bonestell may have thought there was a big cover-up here. Why, if space had been conquered, and people had been to the Moon, didn't NASA send people to Mars, too? Maybe because no astronauts had landed on the Moon at all?

Chesley Bonestell brought home the reality of other worlds, but didn't help people visualize the enormous (and extremely different) distances between them. He helped spark the wonderful universes of science fiction where planets and worlds are both fantastic and nearby - or if they aren't nearby, the marvellous spaceships of the future will easily bring future human explorers to them anyway.

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Re: Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future

Post by Nitpicker » Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:47 am

Nice little video.

Ann, conflating Bonestell's influence with "moon hoax conspiracy theory" sounds like another conspiracy theory.

I have never been disappointed with space exploration. And I was too young to experience the Apollo missions as they happened. That so much gets done on a relatively small budget these days, by robots (controlled by humans), is fantastic.

Happy for the robots to explore the magnificently remote, desolate and inhospitable parts of the universe. I still think it is remarkable that I can be served a hot meal at 30,000 feet, on my way to some lovely place on Earth.

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Re: Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future

Post by Ann » Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:39 am

Nitpicker wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:47 am
Nice little video.

Ann, conflating Bonestell's influence with "moon hoax conspiracy theory" sounds like another conspiracy theory.

I have never been disappointed with space exploration. And I was too young to experience the Apollo missions as they happened. That so much gets done on a relatively small budget these days, by robots (controlled by humans), is fantastic.

Happy for the robots to explore the magnificently remote, desolate and inhospitable parts of the universe. I still think it is remarkable that I can be served a hot meal at 30,000 feet, on my way to some lovely place on Earth.
Point taken, Nit. And I have never been disappointed with space exploration, either.

For all of that, it is my impression that the "Moon landing hoax" was the first really "explosive" conspiracy theory. Okay, maybe not the first. The first one may have been the claim that NASA covered up the "fact" that we are being visited by space aliens, after the Roswell incident in 1947.

An acquaintance of mine claims that the crashed "UFO spaceship" was a military prototype containing the sort of mannequins that are used for crash tests of cars. And because the crashed "UFO" was a military prototype and top secret, the military tried to hush up the incident, but the result was that lots of people believed that we were being visited by aliens, and that the U.S. government tried to hide that fact from ordinary people.

I can see where that conspiracy theory may have come from, but what about the Moon landing hoax? I would never make Chesley Bonestell solely responsible for making people believe in a universe where other planets can easily be visited. Long ago, I came across an anthology of really old science fiction, and it contained a story of one of those professor/inventor/engineer sort of geniuses, who cobbled together a spaceship in his backyard. Then he launched his intrepid young nephew into space, and the boy liked it so much that he made a grand tour of much of the Solar system before returning home for lunch. I also remember seeing an old black and white movie, where a group of people fought heroically to build a spaceship and launch it into space. Once they had broken free of the gravity of the Earth, they decided to go exploring the Universe.

So there was this general idea that the gravity of the Earth kept people captive on the surface of the Earth, but once they had overcome that gravity, space was their oyster. Countless science fiction movies tell stories of the wonders and terrors of distant worlds that are nevertheless quite easily accessible.

So Chesley Bonestell was just another person dreaming of seeing other worlds. Unlike almost all other astronomy popularizers and science fiction writers, Bonestell had both the scientific curiosity and the artistic ability to create extremely dynamic and in-your-face realistic (for its time realistic) images of worlds beyond the Earth. The power of his pictures probably made many Americans dream of other worlds.

But I think Bonestell's images helped reinforce an idea that already existed in America, namely that it is "easy" to travel in space once you have broken free of the gravity of the Earth.

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Re: Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future

Post by Nitpicker » Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:16 pm

Perhaps you're right. Past generations held many ideas that seem so ridiculous today. If you think the idea of smoking is ridiculous, you're only just scratching the surface, viz:
https://allthatsinteresting.com/blowing-smoke

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Re: Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future

Post by Fred the Cat » Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:23 pm

People who think freely and risk being criticized for voicing those ideas must be applauded if their purpose goes beyond personal self-aggrandizement.

Like Nitpicker indicates, ideas that seem to be a detriment to society may offer new opportunities in our future given a scientifically-based effort which includes a well-informed public (link from SA commenting why just say no doesn't work) and plans utilizing new ideas.

Funny how it's possibly to take opposite ends of the same debate and still discus it with civility. :wink:
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