Before science-fiction – advertising

August 14, 2007 § Leave a comment

In 1843 Willliam Henson had prints made showing his invention, the Aeriel, a steam-engine flying machine, fly high above London, India, Egypt. The prints were circulated among newspapers and were quite a sensation. And indeed, there’s only one problem: the Aeriel was never more than a prototype that never quite made it to completion (steam-engine seemed to have been a poor choice for airplanes).

So the images ? Fake news, or science-fiction ? Either way, they rely on realistic conventions to be taken at face value:
the aeriel above india Observe all the details here not only concerning the Aeriel and the launching pad, but also details of India, and efforts to inscribe the Aeriel in an acceptable image of “everyday life in India” (plants, birds, the elephants of course, but also people reclining on the ground, doing nothing).

(more on William Henson here and here)


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