Futuristic Automotive Art, Lost Highways & We Liked Dick
March 1, 2003 12:05 AM   Subscribe

The Future We Were Promised is an exhibit of illustrations, ads and comics by a visionary artist named Radenbaugh whose career spanned the '30s thru the '50s. If you live near Philly, an exhibit opens March 7 at Lost Highways, a museum that bills itself as a crossroads where architectural & automotive history and 20th century design and culture collide. Past exhibits look fun too - The Family Car on Mars, about station wagon design 1956-1962, and We Liked Dick, a feature about Nixon & the press during his V.P. years. The store has some cool artwork too. (via uren.dagen.nachten)
posted by madamjujujive (18 comments total)
Let me be the first to quote Avery Brooks: Where's My Flying Car?
Beautiful art, and a little insight into why the future didn't turn out as advertised: because Radebaugh and his like were much better connected to the advertising business than anybody in technology or engineering. Next you're gonna tell me the writers of "The Jetsons" didn't have technical consultants...
posted by wendell at 12:45 AM on March 1, 2003

Sounds like a good stop for First Friday.
posted by password at 1:08 AM on March 1, 2003

[this is good]

Radebaugh and his like were much better connected to the advertising business than anybody in technology or engineering.

Yes. This stuff betrays no knowledge of strength of materials. If ever the One Ring is destroyed, all those pretty buildings are going to come crashing down.

I also can't help but think they would make great targets for terrorists. Sigh.

In those immense glass panels there's also no thought of energy conservation. Or safety, that matter: there's one picture of what appears to be a parking garage with glass walls. Someone is a little tardy with the brake, and there's nothing to stop him falling a couple of stories. But that was an age with a lot less emphasis on safety: no seat belts in cars, pre-OSHA, etc.

Oh, and pre-feminism, too. I don't think nowadays you could do an immense public statue of a naked woman, even an Art Deco/Soviet Realist one, like the one on the front page. Someone would feel oppressed by it.

BTW, William Gibson wrote an entertaining dark fantasy, "The Gernsback Continuum," (collected in Burning Chrome), that posits such as world as depicted in this art as existing, along side our own, and occasionally poking through into it.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 1:21 AM on March 1, 2003

[this is freakin' excellent]
posted by webmutant at 2:09 AM on March 1, 2003

Really, really good post!
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:03 AM on March 1, 2003

My favorite detail is the "hospital in space" where patients would float in crystal balls, with the idea of "concentrating" sunlight to treat, of all things, cancer.

Also great -- the idea that the primary benefit of antigravity technology would be to float the country club up above the ground so as to "catch the breezes." Can there be such a thing as visionary frivolity?

Great post, madam.
posted by BT at 7:40 AM on March 1, 2003

Exquisite site.

My favorite "in the future..." quote came from a film about the future we watched in junior high school that featured monorails and flying cars:
    "In the future, computers will do so much of the work that we do today, that mankind shall come to enjoy the 3-day work week. "The greatest challenge of the mankind in the 21st century will be what to all that leisure time."
This silicon-slave says: Bhwahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
posted by Dunvegan at 9:26 AM on March 1, 2003

"The greatest challenge of the mankind in the 21st century will be what to all that leisure time."

That hurts. That just plain hurts : )
posted by Shane at 9:28 AM on March 1, 2003

Thanks for the post madame. His futuristic tractor is fantastic. I'd like to go to the exhibit but I don't live anywhere near philly. If you like concept cars from the 50's and 60's, this site has a nice gallery.
posted by snez at 10:16 AM on March 1, 2003

Thankyou Madam Juju! Great stuff, as always.
posted by plep at 10:19 AM on March 1, 2003

Great post--I was looking for something really cool to do in Philly while my boyfriend is in town, and this certainly fits the bill. Thanks. :)
posted by eilatan at 10:34 AM on March 1, 2003

very cool! thanks!
posted by jjb at 10:40 AM on March 1, 2003

Somehow this reminds me of the phone company propaganda from the 70s. We were all told that by the mid 80s we'd all have VIDEOPHONES! Funny enough, talking to people older than myself revealed that in the 50s, they said that by the mid 60s we'd all have VIDEOPHONES! Never mind the idea that maybe few people want this technology. Do you really want to dash out of the shower to catch the videophone? Do you want that guy who just won't loose your phone number to have visual cues that you aren't really just on your way out/dyeing your hair/in the process of moving? And what about at work? Do you think the ID-ten-tee client you've been dealing with won't notice your eyes rolling when he asks stupid-question?

Now of course we are told that high speed internet access and cheap digital cameras offer us the promise of VIDEOCONFERENCING! From what I've seen, I think I may as well wait for my flying car.
posted by ilsa at 12:12 PM on March 1, 2003

There's a book called "Yesterday's Tomorrow" published by MIT Press, I believe, in the mid-1980's, that's an excellent resource on this subject. Also check out some of the bigger names in architectural futurism (1910-1935 or so) like Sant'elia and Hugh Ferriss. Ferriss' Metropolis of Tomorrow was republished a few years ago in its entirety with a great foreword. Good stuff, and lots of images.
posted by Kevs at 1:52 PM on March 1, 2003

[this is good]

I can't get enough. Publish these in a high quality coffee table book and I'm first in line
posted by kevspace at 5:18 PM on March 1, 2003

i always wonder about this sort of thing.
the sunday times in the uk always prints these type of woeful science articles.
i cant find it but there was a great one around the hype of virtual reality where instead of going out to a club one would don a vr suit that looked like a boiler suit and go to a vr club.
call me cynical , but theres a element of brainwashing in this sort of stuff that cancels out the naive hopefullness/modern superstition.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:01 PM on March 1, 2003

Cor! I had a dream about this last night, and a lovely one it was, all thanks to Madamejujujive. Many thanks for another delight.
posted by hama7 at 5:15 AM on March 2, 2003

Very good link mjjj. Thanks!
posted by riffola at 12:49 PM on March 6, 2003

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