don davis space colony artist depiction
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Credit: Artist Depiction

New doc series delves into the art of NASA space colony depictions

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Apr 27, 2018, 4:47 PM EDT

Imagine imagining futuristic space colonies for a living. Not bad work if you can get it, eh? Well, a documentary series now in development is taking a closer look at some artists whom NASA actually paid for such interstellar depictions.

“Artist Depiction is a three-part documentary series about NASA space art and the artists behind the depictions,” begins the Indiegogo fundraising video shown below (which could admittedly be said more enthusiastically, but hey, we’re here for the space colonies more than the trailer's VO anyway). 

Each of the three episodes will feature a different space artist — Don Davis, Charles Lindsay, and Rick Guidice — whose renderings helped define the aesthetics of futurism and space travel. Each artist sat down for an extended interview, and many of their featured depictions have been scanned in HD by archivists at the NASA Ames Research Center.

“It’s not just people going in these space suits and protected gear to some hostile planet,” says Davis in the video. “It’s a transplanting of our world, our livable environment, to a location beyond earth.”

If you’ve perhaps spent some QT with Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium or Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, then you can likely see the evolution of these early depictions, which are nearly 50 years old now. And that's just one of the reasons their stories are so essential.

“It’s important to have these first-hand accounts from the artists that were depicting Gerard O’Neill’s original ideas about these colonies. Without these films, those accounts are lost,” director Brett Ryan Bonowicz told PaleoFuture about the doc series.

O’Neill was the physicist, inventor, and space activist who first imagined the space settlement known as the O’Neill cylinder, parts of which were brought to life in these now seemingly familiar depictions. 

If you agree with Bonowicz and think the oral history behind this art needs to be preserved, then head on over to Artist Depiction's Indiegogo campaign and contribute; right now they’re still about a grand shy of their $5,000 goal to cover the remainder of the post-production. Wanna be an associate producer?