Does TOS Still Look Futuristic to You?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by ZapBrannigan, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    Frank Lloyd Wright may have been ignorant of the modern practical definitions and applications of the term "ergonomic," but the individual elements and principles which went into their formation and development were known to him. They didn't just spring up out of nowhere in 1949.
     
  2. aridas sofia

    aridas sofia Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think the problem in this discussion is the ambiguity of the word "futuristic". After all, none of us knows for certain what the future will hold. I hew to an idea of "futuristic" that is informed by Clarke's statement that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". In other words, the design should appear to be incapable of doing the task it does. That can mean that it can look like something that does an everyday, common task, but just so happens to be able to do something much more. Or it can look as if it does nothing and does a lot. Or something in between. To me, vagueness of purpose gives the thing added shelf life because it will be less likely that the present will catch up with what it is shown doing. If we say a communicator operates on radio frequencies and is limited to a 15,000 mile range, we may be in great shape in 1966 but in trouble ten years later. So we don't say.

    If a design fails to look ergonomic or otherwise functional by contemporary standards, the question is, is it plausible that in the future those standards will change or no longer matter? If that's the case, varying such a design feature could give something greater plausibility, not less.

    Frank Lloyd Wright consciously ignored ergonomics in some of his designs in favor of the look of the thing. I understand that would be impractical in the case of a military command center unless, as I wrote above, the standards of what is considered ergonomic change. Certainly the standards my grandfather sitting at an oak desk and chair in 1920 would consider comfortable would be very different from those of me in a zero gravity chair and Ergotron tower workstation. And presumably mine will be different from my grandson eighty years hence.
     
  3. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    Man, I love your posts.
     
  4. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I've read it six times today and I've taken something different away from it every time. In that sense, it is like watching BLADE RUNNER or TWELVE MONKEYS.

    Spelling aside, I'm actually experiencing what could be called a dementianal shift while thinking about it. You don't think this could be JOKER's relative, do you? (I'm talking the character, not the poster ... or AM i?)
     
  5. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    All of the women should be wearing pants, AFAIK.
     
  6. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Why?
     
  7. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    Because that's what most women in most real-world navies do. Nobody wears a short miniskirt on board a ship or at a shore posting in the real world, and they shouldn't be doing so in the 23rd century. Also, the ladies look better in pants.
     
  8. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    "This isn't reality, this is fantasy." - Uhura, Star Trek III

    I'm not inclined to make a judgement call on how the 23rd century military operates since I've never seen it in action. And since I'm already buying into the concepts of FTL travel, machines that take us apart and then put us back together again thousands of miles away and cross-species offspring, it's not hard for me to accept mini-skirts into the Star Trek universe. :shrug:
     
  9. aridas sofia

    aridas sofia Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^This.

    If one wishes to make something look "futuristic", why would one endeavor to make it look "contemporary"?

    I think mini skirts are fine onboard ship for certain personnel not involved in activities for which the mini skirt isn't suited. On landing party duty, I think the women should have always worn pants, because presumably they would be more protective. Though I guess it is arguable that 23rd century stockings are as warm and indestructible as the pants.
     
  10. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    In Charlie X the faceless woman wears pants. Just saw it last night.

    Above, I think Xortex means "delusional," though the malapropism (if it is one) adds layers of nuance. Read him fast and it all makes sense. Though, like any rich text there are layers of meaning and irony, I kid you not.
     
  11. xortex

    xortex Commodore

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    Sphynx like. Yoeman Colt got away with saying 'It bucks the percentages.' To which Kirk said, 'Bucks?' How that got past the censors I'll never know.
     
  12. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    There's an episode of Star Trek with Colt and Kirk in a scene together?
     
  13. xortex

    xortex Commodore

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    I guess it wasn't Colt but someone equally as beautiful if not more so. Was it Marianna Hill? as Dr. Helen Noel?
     
  14. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Celeste Yarnell didn't need no pants to kick ass in The Apple.
     
  15. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    I don't know. Though I find nothing censor worthy about the word "bucks" or the context it was allegedly used.
     
  16. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Interesting points.

    Of course, any space craft moving through space doing far beyond what we can do today will look futuristic. But is it a plausible depiction? The original Enterprise model still looks amazingly futuristic to me. It also felt more "real" than the NCC-1701D, which had a peculiar "too clean" CGI appearance.

    But as for the uniforms and interiors, TOS doesn't look very futuristic to me at all. It looks seriously dated. Even the iconic equipment employed, the phaser, communicator, and tricorder, all look like Art Deco relics now. The only thing that looks the most advanced to me from TOS is the transporter console. And of course, beaming people to planets is still intangible futurism (and always will be).


    A few years ago, I felt like TOS was still "true" Star Trek. But now? The other series have grown much more on me. I go back to TOS now and it looks really dated. I enjoy watching it from time to time, but... I won't ever look at it the same. It's more like a revisit of nostalgia. Maybe because it has been with me too long. ;)
     
  17. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The difference between "futuristic" as an esthetic and designing a plausible future has a lot to do with looking at the present and the past - how is technology actually applied to the way people live, how have people adapted to it and how is it adapted to a world that already exists.

    One class of futuristic sf design which makes the fissure between the two clear is all of those evocations of future versions of Los Angeles or New York or other major cities (like London, LOL), often supposed to exist in fifty or one hundred years, which consist of nothing but soaring new constructions. The designers are pleased to assume that everything currently existing is just bulldozed flat to make way for mile-high space needles.

    Another real good example is "futuristic" costume design. Theiss designed "magic" clothing without apparent fastenings or closures. When I get dressed in the morning, though, I make use of laces, buttons, snaps, zippers, and occasionally Velcro. The newest and arguably most "magic," Velcro, is about sixty years old; lacings are at least five thousand years old and both are in daily use all over the developed world. If I'm envisioning plausible, likely future clothing as opposed to "futuristic" then I'm going to use laces and buttons and whatever else along with "magic" - because there are esthetic considerations beyond the utilitarian that are integral to what people choose. That's called "fashion," but the reverse is also true: there are practical considerations to what people choose that trump esthetics. There is a reason that we don't live in a Frank Lloyd Wright world, among them the fact that we don't very much like leaky roofs.

    The design of any age synthesizes the ancient, the traditional and the new, the practical and the fashionable and the innovative.

    Now, in artistic design for things like, for instance, the early art for Space Command you see artists like Doug Drexler talking about futurism while evoking mainly the "Space Age" design heritage of the 1950s and 1960s. There are specific reasons for that with regard to Space Command, but it's nonetheless true that when people talk about futurism the examples seem to quickly turn to exercises in nostalgia - looking backward.

    This is an awesome Facebook page, BTW: http://www.facebook.com/SpaceAgePropaganda
     
  18. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I wish people would stop using "art deco" to describe things which aren't. Nothing much in the original Star Trek is art deco.
     
  19. aridas sofia

    aridas sofia Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm a historian trained to search for lessons of the past applicable to the present. And when I look at the precepts of Modernism with its rejection of history as having little to inform the remade world of the 20th century, I am chagrined. And yet, when I look at the future I see the possibility that human existence will change in such fundamental ways that the lessons of the past really won't be applicable. I realize the stories of such people would probably be so foreign to contemporary audiences as to be indecipherable. And yet, THAT'S the future that seems plausible to me. In an attempt to find a middle ground, I imagine there are people like us still around in a post-Singularity world, but I cannot imagine how their lives will be changed. And while such people - mortal, not cybernetically enhanced, not hive minded, etc. - will live lives influenced by the constants of human nature, the world around them will be, I think, largely disconnected from the past.
    But that's me and God knows I'll almost certainly be wrong. Prognosticators don't generally have great batting averages.
     
  20. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ This.

    Art Deco is a term coined in the 1960s and retroactively applied to a style of architecture, interior and product design, and graphic design popular in the late 1920s and 1930s. The spaceships and hardware in Universal's Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials look like Art Deco relics, because they are.

    IMO, the most Art Deco-looking thing in Trek TOS is the original Klingon battle cruiser.