Aircraft as an art form

steelpillow

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This topic http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,22664.0.html just prodded me into airing a recent thought - to consider aircraft design as an art form or, more prosaically, to consider the application of artistic talents to their design.

For example the de Havilland "moth wing" tail is a touch of pure art which became a characteristic of the marque. Somebody mounted a Concorde nose cone on a pedestal and sold it as a work of art.

Design descriptions of aircraft often go on about the aerofoil section used and other vital statistics, they seldom mention the artistic judgements the designer made along the way. That is our loss.

Indeed, there is a sense in which any model facsimilie, such as an Airfix kit, is a portrait: one work of art depicting another, much as Canaletto painted pictures of famous buildings. In this light I have also started seeing my "what-if" plastic models as works of sculpture as much as of engineering design.
 

steelpillow

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Thanks for the link. That debate was mostly about form and function, here I am musing more on the will of the designer and the understanding of aircraft as art objects independent of their function.

Great art always "looks right" - indeed, that is pretty much how we judge the greatness of a work of art, just how right does it look? The design of the Fairey Delta 2 is wholly functional, yet it is sometimes said to look righter than most aeroplanes. Does that make it a great work of art or more like an objet trouve such as a pretty pebble on a beach? Does art require the conscious aesthetic intervention of the designer, as with the de Havilland "moth wing" tail?
 
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