With cold waves and snowy weather, Parisians rush to movie theaters to warm up, and to galleries and museums that transport their visitors from street frost to indoor halls protected from wind and rain. Among these exhibitions is one dedicated to cars, which is currently being held at the Museum of Arts and Crafts, under the title “Driving License”. It is known that car exhibitions are popular with a multi-age audience and interests, so how about if it raises an exciting question, which is: Does the car have a future?
The exhibition poster is enough to attract the interest of passers-by, even those who did not plan to visit. It’s a tiny vehicle, made of transparent materials, that stands in between an electric car and a motorcycle. This may seem too small for only one passenger. But it is the right size for moving around in major cities that are getting more crowded with time and there are not enough parking spaces along the sidewalks. There are designers of the cars of tomorrow who bet on the individual’s tendency to individualism and his need for independence from others. Citizens of the United States and Canada, for example, are accustomed to each family member having his own car that he uses to go to work, study or shopping. But there is no place in the cities of the future for a single home garage that can accommodate them all. The solution is in these small vehicles that resemble space capsules with modern designs that are not devoid of aesthetic hints.
By Dominic Wilcox
The Museum of Arts and Crafts does not stop at displaying designs and models of unusual cars, but it also entices its visitors by revealing its own holdings of early designs and rare experiences dating back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Thus, it is possible to contemplate that pioneering vehicle, which is described as the grandmother of all cars. And next to it lined up a car resembling an airplane in its graceful rectangular structure, or another that was spinning with steam. This exhibition combined the history of the car industry with its future prospects.
The visit begins with a presentation of that famous French fruit of the “Citroen” factory, called “Charleston with Two Horses”. There are about 30 cars from different periods produced by the Renault and Peugeot factories, in addition to a life-size model of a petrol station of the traditional type that was known in the thirties of the last century and then disappeared and one no longer encounters it on the roads.
What is there when the hood is raised? The visitor can investigate the answer himself, or even try sitting in any of the cars on display, turning the key and listening to the roar of its old engine, or the near-silent decency of modern engines.
The car is also an object made with aesthetic standards and competitions between companies in attaining the coolest design. What is beautiful about the exhibition is that it presents, in addition to cars, pictorial and sculptural works, paintings and movie posters by artists who found their inspiration in them. Metal objects fill the streets, but they have become an indispensable means for the modern individual in his movements. Among the exhibits that stop visitors is the glass “egg” by Paul Arzin, or the carved car that resembles a whale as it cuts through the waves quickly and gracefully. What is the future for this mode of transportation? Cars are under attack from environmentalists from pollution. They promote cycling. Bicycle lanes and mass transit buses invaded the road spaces, leaving only a quarter of the space for cars. The municipality of Paris, for example, resorts in certain seasons to ban the use of cars for a day or two in order to allow the removal of pollution from the air of the capital. There have been campaigns that have been going on for years to encourage citizens to leave their cars in their homes and move by public transport such as the metro, to reduce the harmful gases emitted by exhausts. The fashion today is for the hybrid car, which can run on electricity as well as fuel. There is only a short period of time left before the license becomes for electric cars alone.
What future for the conventional car then? No one has a definite opinion on the matter. The answer, suggested by the Museum of Arts and Crafts, lies in the minds of designers, engineers and machinists. It is up to them to innovate clean modes of transportation with attractive shapes that attract acquisition. It is not an easy challenge, but it requires ingenuity to keep up with the times. It depends on the needs, desires and tastes of the future person. The car is not just a life need, but has become an indispensable companion, and there are those among the drivers who are keen on caring for it, maintaining it, beautifying it, and perfuming it, and clinging to it to the point of obsession. All this is before humanity enters, perhaps, the stage of movement by flying or remotely piloted vehicles, where every citizen will have a pre-programmed “drone” to take him wherever he wants.
The exhibition will continue until May 7.