The Luna 9 Probe – a Soviet Version of the ‘David’?

THE DAILY PIC: At Chamber, a 1966 spacecraft model displays esthetic instincts.


THE DAILY PIC (#1563): For the latest group show at Chamber, the ambitious design gallery in New York, curator Andrew Zuckerman has included all kinds of fascinating objects, from amazingly crafted neolithic flint tools to Ian Stell’s very recent roll-top desk, with a top that rolls down to become its seat. (Here’s a video of it in use.) But one of the artifacts I found most intriguing was this 1966 model of the Soviet Luna 9 probe, the first spacecraft to survive a landing on the surface of the moon and the first to send back photos from it.

The thing to note about the model is that, for all its amazingly high-tech look, it doesn’t seem to have had any function beyond the commemorative. The human desire to make utterly faithful representations seems to be inescapable, even for the no-nonsense technophiles and technocrats of the USSR.

I wonder if the cave dwellers of Altamira and Lascaux, when asked why they were making their paintings, answered simply: “Because we can. Because we have to.”

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