White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise Model

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by plynch, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    I don't think that's a valid comparison. The historical context is very different. Star Trek came along at the cusp of the space age. It ended just a month and a half before humans first set foot on the Moon. While there had been at least two prior SFTV shows that had made some effort at scientific accuracy -- Tom Corbett, Space Cadet from 1950-55 and Men into Space from 1959-60 -- Star Trek was the only SFTV show to portray spaceflight in an intelligent and non-cartoony way during the period when crewed spaceflight was becoming a reality. And that put it in a unique and important position, enabling it to resonate and synergize with the real space program in a way that no prior or subsequent SF franchise could match.


    Everything should be open to critical examination and question. That's just basic rationality. There is no holy gospel here. Truth is found by asking questions and keeping an open mind.

    Yes, we have images of the model before its restoration, but under what lighting conditions? It's been said that the stage lighting washed out a lot of the detail. The model in the gift shop is under much gentler lighting. One thing that a lot of people don't understand about film is that the way something looks to the naked eye can be very different from the way it looks in a photograph, due to the nature of the lighting, lenses, film stock, etc. being used. For instance, Kirk's velour tunic in the first two seasons was actually avocado green like his wraparound tunic, but it photographed as gold because of the way the material reflected the bright stage lighting. So we can't assume that the way something looks in a photograph is a reliable representation of how it would look to the naked eye.

    Based on the information I've been given, I suspect that the original miniature was somewhat more detailed than it appeared in photos, but less detailed than the Miarecki restoration. But that's just a supposition. I don't know for sure.

    So what we need is to move beyond supposition to something more useful. Ideally, this is something that should be tested by experiment. Somebody should make replicas representing various levels of surface detail, photograph them under conditions matching those under which the existing pre-1974 photographs were taken (same lighting, same camera equipment, same film stock and exposure), and see which version most closely matches the available photography. That would help take the guesswork out of it, or at least minimize it. Arguing doesn't resolve anything; experimentation could. There are a number of amateur and pro modelmakers out there who could be recruited to conduct such an experiment. (Or we could suggest it on the Mythbusters fan site. They've done Star Trek myths before.)


    I think that's expressed a bit harshly, but I do agree that alteration is incompatible with the goals of restoration.
     
  2. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    And that's why we need those who have actually researched the subject in depth.

    I can't argue with that.
     
  3. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    Note, I've just heard back from Robert Sawyer. He is in wholehearted agreement with this petition and has agreed to begin promoting it.
     
  4. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    I'd like to clarify my remarks, just so there's no danger of us talking past each other.

    I've neither made nor implied a comparison between Star Trek and Transformers or any other franchise. Rather, I've addressed the question of criteria by which either franchise, both, or any other should have their artifacts exhibited at the National Air and Space Museum. Whether artifacts of a franchise should be exhibited at the museum is best determined by evaluating the franchise against the mission of the museum, not by comparing franchises against each other.

    Furthermore, as the curators of NASM have already deemed Transformers worthy of an exhibit at the museum, however temporary or permanent, a determination that exhibiting artifacts from that franchise is consistent with their mission, as they see it, has already been made.

    The main issue I've addressed is: What is the mission of the museum? If—hypothetically—the mission of the museum includes reaching out to people who find that SF franchises besides Star Trek resonate better to them today, then in that case that's what the mission is.
     
  5. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    Same thing with the monster makeup in the old Universal FRANKENSTEIN movies. Originally, the idea was NOT that the monster was supposed to have green skin. They just used green makeup on Karloff because it photographed as a corpse-like pallor when filmed in black-and-white . . . which fit with the idea that the Monster had been stitched together from pieces of dead bodies.

    Somehow, though, the idea that the Monster has green skin crept into the public consciousness, which is why the Monster is painted green on Halloween masks and toys to this day.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  6. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    Assuming the petition gets sufficient traction then I think it would be a great idea to open the funding to donations. Even if it's only $5, $10 or $20 from an individual it could really add up. And if some significant names (Shatner and Nimoy aren't bad suggestions) even made a token donation along with someone like Nichelle Nichols or anyone else connected to the franchise (even from behind the scenes) it could give the petition some visibility beyond just fans.

    I'm not American and I don't live in the U.S. but I'd kick in some money for it.
     
  7. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    1. Forgive if this is a repeat, but I did tweet Mssrs. Shatner, Nimoy, Takei, Okuda, Rod Roddenberry, Spiner, and Levar Burton. That's whose handles I knew. And a couple Trek feeds. And the CQ at Starfleet.

    2. Re. Christopher's comments - yeah, we only have photos of the original; but we have, I think, comments from eyewitnesses, who described the lines as light and in pencil, including Matt Jeffries, iirc. We have the top of the saucer too, though those lines may have faded over time. It is pretty clear from what I've read that the lines were much lighter in person than they are now. And perhaps nonexistent on the secondary and nacelles.

    3. If you restore it as an artifact, you'd bring the item back to what it looked like in real life, not as it appeared on TV, right? Hence my wording in the petition, "we now ask that this important artifact be restored as closely as possible to its original state." Still open to interpretation I suppose.

    4. Please note I tried to be respectful to Mr. Maerlecki in the wording. Things have been cool here, but I understand he's been ripped a new one sometimes.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    I don't agree. When TOS occurred, the fact that it was simultaneous with the development of manned spaceflight, makes it important to the history of spaceflight in a way that no later franchise could possibly be. Maybe that's just an accident of history, but it's still part of history. You can't ignore that any more than you can ignore WWII when considering Casablanca's role in history. Casablanca is going to have a more legitimate place in a museum about WWII than, say, Raiders of the Lost Ark is, because the former actually came out during that part of history and was a piece of the overall story of that era. You just can't ignore the respective historical contexts of the different works when considering their relative historical importance.


    And in this context, treating ST as just another franchise is overlooking its unique historical significance. Museums are not about pandering to what the audience expects or wants to see; they're about teaching the way things really were. ST's importance to the history of spaceflight is a function of when it came out and how it influenced people at the time. It's not about how people perceive it today. So it's not going to change just because the popularity of the franchise wanes.
     
  9. Jonas Grumby

    Jonas Grumby Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    I agree with this. Any contribution made to the space program by the Enterprise model was in the area of public relations. It just doesn't measure up to actual air- and spacecraft that achieved real-world accomplishments (often risking real lives in the process) that count for much more than just entertainment or even inspirational value.

    If I'm not mistaken, the Smithsonian has a museum devoted to TV and motion picture arts. That's where it belongs.
     
  10. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    The Natl Mus of American History, named in the petition. I stole the idea from someone in another thread, though; I think Maurice.
     
  11. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    So, you don't agree that the stated mission of the museum should provide the best criteria for deciding which artifacts to display in it? That's a truly bizarre position.

    If you go back and read what I said, you'll see that I acknowledged the historical significance of the influence of Star Trek as an arguable reason for keeping the model at NASM. But also, I acknowledged that the museum's mission statement, as written, would seem to allow artifacts from science fiction franchises solely to inspire future generations to become involved in aviation and spaceflight.

    Your criterion for displaying the model is not one stated in the museum's mission statement. You'll see that I recommended amending the mission statement, if the model is kept at NASM.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    ^Aren't you forgetting that the miniature has already been on display in the museum for over 38 years? When it was donated to the Smithsonian in the first place, they chose to put it in the NASM rather than some other museum. They displayed it prominently in various NASM galleries from 1974 to 1993, and aside from loaning it to the Hayden Planetarium for a year, they've never displayed it in any other museum except the NASM. I just don't understand the argument that it doesn't belong in that museum when that's the museum where it's been for most of its lifespan. If it had never been there and someone were proposing moving it there for the first time, then your arguments might make some kind of sense; but that's where it's actually been for nearly four decades, so why is it suddenly wrong to keep it there?
     
  13. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    No, I'm not forgetting that at all; I already took that into account.

    While the artifact inspires the public to become involved in air and space, and by extension come to the museum, the mission allows it. Should it overall cease to serve that role in the eyes of the general public, the stated mission doesn't.

    I'm willing to accept the possibility—if not the probability—that, in earlier decades, the model was more inspirational to the general public than it is today. If make-believe artifacts are to go in the museum for other reasons, like telling historical narratives, then amend the mission statement. It's really clear cut.

    As for who am I to say it doesn't belong there? Well, first of all, I never said it doesn't belong there, did I? And second of all, who would I have to be anyway to have an opinion about where it should go? Everyone has a right to believe it doesn't belong where it is. It's appalling that that should be called into question.

    Myself, I think there are fair arguments on both sides of the issue, of whether it should stay or go, as I've already elaborated. However, I've essentially said that, if the mission statement is to remain unchanged, then, yeah, the model doesn't belong where it is, because it's simply incongruous.
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    You know what...I know someone who helped Mireki work on the model. Let me ping him about what LOD (Level of Detail) was apparent on the model when Ed first got it.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    I think you're taking the whole "mission statement" thing too literally. I doubt they weigh every single item against the exact letter of their mission statement before deciding whether to display it. I assume it's just a general set of guidelines, and actual decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. You could probably find a whole bunch of items on display there that wouldn't fit a strict, legalistic interpretation of their mission statement. Which is why that's not what the mission statement is for. It's intended to be a launching point, not a set of restrictions.

    I also disagree with your interpretation of the mission statement as written. I've already explained why I think the Enterprise miniature is indeed "of historical interest and significance to the progress of aviation and spaceflight," for reasons that have nothing to do with the shifting tastes of a fickle public. So I don't see any need to amend anything.


    That's not what I meant. I just meant that I don't understand your reasoning. The NASM is where it's always been, and the museum's own operators have always been fine with that. I'd call that sufficient precedent to justify its inclusion there. If it was deemed historically significant before, I don't see how it would stop being historically significant just because the show isn't as popular these days.
     
  16. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    I think Christopher has the right idea. The E has been in NASM for nearly 40 years. That's clearly where it belongs.

    I would however like to see it restored, or rebuilt, to the way everyone remembers it. If that means that its not entirely accurate, then so be it. Display it in a diorama with a star field and maybe a planet. Play a soundtrack of excerpts from episodes, captain's logs, etc.

    Younger generations need to be reminded why not only the ship, but the show itself, was important to the fledgling space program. Those of us old enough to remember won't be around forever ...
     
  17. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    That's a mighty big if that it's been there all these years because of its historical significance in the development of actual real world spaceflight. I think that's an idea worth questioning, if not doubting.

    Anyway, we're going to have to agree to disagree here.
     
  18. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    I emphatically disagree. Museums should be about preserving the past accurately, not pandering to people's preconceptions about it. The truth is not a popularity contest. A restoration should be based on the most scientific reconstruction possible. If that goes against people's expectations, then that's a good thing. That's what museums are for -- to teach us things we didn't know, and to replace beliefs and assumptions with solid evidence.


    Which is not indicative of what it looked like in the 1960s, because it was after a prior restoration done without accurate reference.

    Like I said, we should stop wasting energy rehashing the old debates and apply some real experimentation to this. Let's try to find someone who can build replica miniatures with various levels of detail and figure out which one best matches the original photos when shot under equivalent conditions. Science is better than rhetoric.
     
  20. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: White House Petition to Restore/Preserve and Move the Enterprise M

    Who said it was?