The Short Life Of A Beautiful Idea: The Soviet ‘Sormovich’ Passenger Hovercraft

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A gas-turbine hovercraft 'Sormovich' was built in 1965. During the tests  the 'Sormovich' reached  the speed of 120 km / h, went above the surface of the earth at a height of 0.25-0.3 m, it had easily overcame the shallow water and landed gently on the beach.

‘Sormovich’ was built in 1965. During the tests she reached the speed of 120 km/h (75 miles/hr), and went above the surface at a height of 0.25-0.3 m (approx. 1 ft), – she had easily overcome the shallow water and landed gently on the beach.

It looks like an airplane’s fuselage zipping on the water…

The Soviet Sormovich: A gas-turbine passenger hovercraft that operated on an experimental passenger line along the Volga River (Gorky – Cheboksary) in 1971-1972, which was 274 km (170 miles). A round trip from Gorky to Cheboksary took one day.

The ship had a crew of 3 people and could carry up to 50 passengers. The passenger lounge was placed at the bow. Operation was complicated by problems with the dispensing gear that failed. According to the statistics the Sormovich served about 6,000 passengers.

The 'Sormovich' In A More Pastoral Scene

The Sormovich In A More Pastoral Scene

1971 'Sormovich' winter conditions test.

1971 Sormovich winter conditions test.

In 1971, tests were conducted with the Sormovich to determine the feasibility of passenger traffic in the winter.

The tests were successful, but the idea of ​​passenger traffic in the winter was refused.

This decision was unclear, because the ship was designed to operate in the winter months. Perhaps it was connected with almost completely absent infrastructure for winter navigation on the Volga river.  (English Russia)

The Sormovich decommissioned, abandoned, and in disrepair.

The Sormovich decommissioned, abandoned, and in disrepair.

The gas-turbine hovercraft was decommissioned in 1974. The Sormovich met her end on a base in the Gorky Region. There it fell into a complete state of disrepair. It was cut into pieces of lifeless metal.

(Source material and photos: English Russia)

A Fantastic Voyage – Charles And Ray Eameses ‘Powers Of Ten’

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Charles and Ray Eames (Photo via Library of Congress)

Charles and Ray Eames (Photo via Library of Congress)

Charles Ormond Eames, Jr and Bernice Alexandra “Ray” Eames were American designers who worked in and made major contributions to modern architecture and furniture. They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art and film.
– Wikipedia

That’s a very brief and simplified summation of the amazing accomplishments of Charles and Ray Eames. Entire tomes could be written about each area of their influence – indeed, such is the case. But today we’ll only look at one of their really mind expanding projects – the 1968 documentary short film, Powers Of Ten.

…rereleased in 1977. The film depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten…The film is an adaptation of the 1957 book Cosmic View by Kees Boeke, and more recently is the basis of a new book version. Both adaptations, film and book, follow the form of the Boeke original, adding color and photography to the black and white drawings employed by Boeke in his seminal work.
– Eames Office

Powers Of Ten is an amazing journey to the outer reaches of space back to the deep reaches of inner space. In fact, this is what makes it so mind blowing – by traveling through every scale the viewer is left with a wondrous realization of how relative our experience of reality is.

Sounds like pretty heady stuff, and it is, but this is what makes the Eameses film so marvelous. In Powers Of Ten, the complex becomes simple. Instead of struggling with convoluted philosophical details regarding the relativity of perception, the viewer is taken on a visual adventure that brings it all home. In fact, this is the signature of Charles and Ray Eameses work in every field – making the complex easier to perceive and enjoy.

If by the end of the film you wish to explore more of this fascinating subject, the Eames Office has set up a terrific interactive website sponsored by IBM. You’ll find it by clicking here.

So, without further ado, this is Powers Of Ten:

Directors: Charles Eames, Ray Eames
Running time: 9 minutes
Narrated by: Phil Morrison
Music composed by: Elmer Bernstein
Story by: Charles Eames, Kees Boeke

A Quick Look At The Beginning – Happy Birthday David Bowie

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David Robert Jones - aka David Bowie - at 10 months.

David Robert Jones – aka David Bowie – at 10 months.

David Robert Jones was born on January 8, 1947 – a somewhat auspicious date. Not only was it the 12th birthday of the future ‘King’ of rock’n’roll, Elvis Presley, it was also the year of the (in)famous Roswell UFO incident that ushered in the ‘we are not alone/visitors from outer space’ era. Little did anyone know at the time that little David Jones would change his name to Bowie and join Elvis Presley as one of the top rock icons of his generation. The Roswell incident seems like a strange harbinger for things to come from this future ‘Starman’ who would someday play, The Man Who Fell To Earth. But first there was the evolution. Below is a promotional photo of David Jones at fifteen posing with his first band, The Konrads.

The Konrads Featuring David Jones (front and center) - 1962

The Konrads Featuring David Jones (front and center) – 1962

Seeing things moving slower than what was acceptable, Jones did what he would do many times after – he reinvented himself. He developed a new look and began to court controversy. Below is a clip from 1964 – seventeen year old Davy Jones is interviewed by Cliff Michelmore for the BBC program, Tonight. The topic of conversation? The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-haired Men.

It wasn’t long before the next transformation. Under advisement from his producer, Barry Langford, Jones received media attention when he had his long hair shortened before a television appearance with this new band, The Mannish Boys.

David Jones getting a haircut before an appearance on the BBC-2 show, Gadzooks.  (1965)

Davy Jones getting a haircut before an appearance on the BBC-2 show, Gadzooks. (1965)

Two years – and more musical experimentation – later, Jones’ first album would be released. He would now be known by new name, David Bowie. Not much happened with the self-named record and for the next two years Bowie would immerse himself in various endeavors. Perhaps one of the most important influences Bowie would discover during this time was dancer and theatrical director, Lyndsay Kemp.

Studying the dramatic arts under Kemp, from avant-garde theatre and mime to commedia dell’arte, Bowie became immersed in the creation of personae to present to the world.

Strange Fascination: David Bowie, the Definitive Story – David Buckley, 2005

Coming out of that time period was a short film very rarely mentioned in the catalogs of Bowie works. It’s a somewhat strange bit called, The Mask. As Bowie’s voice describes the narrative, his image mimes the story. It’s a horror story of sorts, and one that in retrospect seems quite profound. It’s a tale of a man who finds a magical mask in a second-hand shop. Whenever he finds himself in social situations he puts the mask on and becomes the life of the party. This takes him to great things – he becomes a cause célèbre. But things aren’t so good for him after a while.

Bowie’s career has been one comprised of a myriad of changes – musically, stylistically – and with each change came a new personna. By 1976, the characters he had created – from Ziggy Stardust to Alladin Sane to Halloween Jack to The Young American to The Thin White Duke – seemed to have taken their toll on David Bowie the man. But this story has a better ending than the story of the hapless mime – actually it should be considered a beginning. 1976-1979 is considered David Bowie’s ‘Berlin Period.’ This was Bowie’s cleansing time. Freeing himself from his drug addiction and the poisonous rock’n’roll lifestyle that had left him reeling, he came out a new man. Rather than being left suffocating onstage as a spectacle, Bowie emerged without the mask. Gone were the characters to hide behind – what was left was a vital and happy guy.

'Child In Berlin' - Serigraph By David Bowie, 1976

‘Child In Berlin’ – Serigraph By David Bowie, Berlin, 1976

So let’s end this little retrospective with the song that launched Bowie’s career – pun intended. This is a video of David Bowie’s first television performance of the song, Space Oddity. It was released on 11 July 1969, five days ahead of the Apollo 11 launch. Here, Bowie performs Space Oddity before he accepts the Ivor Novello Award for Song Of The Year in 1970.

Happy 67th, Mr Bowie – family, friends, fans, and admirers, are very glad you made it back to Earth.