These Remarkable Illustrations Predict What Space Force May Look Like.
The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create.”— Leonard I. Sweet, Professor Emeritus.
It’s tough to think of a single title for Johnson Ting.
Artist? Definitely. Illustrator? A masterful one. Prescient? Absolutely. Futurist? Certainly. Johnson Ting has a remarkable ability to envision the future that will almost certainly follow at least the visual theme of his ideas as it manifests itself into reality.
For the purpose of summary, Johnson Ting is a digital artist who extrapolates an articulate vision of future warfare from components of the present. Because the present is the origin of his vision, Ting’s work has a uniquely authentic feel to it. His imagery is hauntingly believable in the future context.
Using Photoshop and other digital media, Johnson Ting has envisioned what the future of armed combat may look like. His digital illustrations, based off current military photos of pilots, door gunners and special operations personnel, have an eerily predictive feel to them.
As you can see in the interesting videos that show his creative process, Ting usually starts with real images, then uses his unique ability to meld technical and artistic detail into his illustrations, albeit with some creative license over the constraints of engineering.
Ting’s detail is noteworthy. As you pick your way through his work you see things that makes sense. Capewell parachute quick releases on a combat astronaut’s space suit for an ultra-high altitude emergency egress just inside the atmosphere. An opaque visor that has imagery and data projected on its interior like a wearable heads-up display.
We asked futurist and designer Connor Riegle, graduate of Detroit, Michigan’s prestigious College for Creative Studies about his interpretation of Johnson Ting’s art.
“It’s about conveying an idea, a concept, not achieving perfection in 100% original elements. The character has a futuristic, yet relatable feel that is achieved by blending the space suit with recognizable and modern hardware details in the majority of design. What pushes it into the future category is the addition of this helmet that is some sort of HUD helmet implying enhanced optical awareness.”
Off course, the annoying guy who sits next to you in a movie and picks apart every technical inaccuracy will tear into Ting’s concepts. Just as they are stunning in detail and technical authenticity, annoying movie detail guy will call out some of Ting’s “imagineering” as implausible or not functional. But that isn’t the point of Ting’s artwork and vision, and technology and time have a way of filling in those blanks.
Instead of creating a window to the future, Ting holds a mirror up to present, distorts the reflection, and we see the future. When we see this reflection, we can take valuable pause in considering the future’s trajectory. Do we really want combat spacecraft and armed astronauts in orbit? How will Space Force special operations teams acknowledge the sovereignty of national borders? What weapons will be carried by Space Force special operators? These are all questions that Johnson Ting poses to us in his visual interpretations.
As mankind prepares to take warfare into orbit it is worth reflecting on the creative imagery of Johnson Ting. The imagery that appears in his fictional extrapolations of the present may be very close to the headline photos of tomorrow.