Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction
Space Odysseys. Photography by Dan Tobin Smith. Design by Praline.
This summer, the Barbican invited It’s Nice That on board as media partner for their sci-fi spectacular Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction. The show will make use of the entire complex of the brutalist Barbican centre, itself a post-war utopian project that embodies so many of the values examined in the show.
It’s Nice That will be launching the exhibition via an interview with the show’s curator Patrick Gyger, as well as commissioning an in-depth series of articles that explores the huge array of work included in the exhibition.
Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction opens at the Barbican Centre, London on 3 June. For more information about the programme of events and exhibition check out our articles appearing on the site throughout May and June.
“It is a journey of science fiction through different chapters. Extraordinary voyages, space odysseys, final frontiers, how we actually map the world, explore it, under the sea and into the earth,” says Patrick Gyger, curator of Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction, the huge exhibition that is landing at the Barbican this summer. “Then you leave that world and go to the moon, to space, a massive movement of discovery. After, you go back to the world, but have a utopian take, then you go inside yourself, think of AI and cybernetics. The human consciousness and body are the new playing field.”
The history of the Soviet publication and science magazine Tekhnika – Molodezhi opens a window onto a wider story about the history and development of Soviet science fiction. From 1930-90, T-M magazine was the primary Soviet magazine to organise literary and art contests for science-fiction writers and artists; while also publishing interviews with, and works by, key Soviet and international authors. During this era it was often the first publisher of foreign science fiction authors in the USSR. Through examining the key artists and contributors it is possible to illuminate the ways in which science fiction functioned as powerful outlet for the socio-political anxieties and tensions of this period.
Artist Conrad Shawcross’ sculptural works often blur the lines between geometry and philosophy, physics and metaphysics, and he uses science and rationale to create mind-bending objects that look other-worldly. “I studied maths and physics at school and I was at university studying art, but I was always surrounded by other subjects. I spent a lot of my youth in the Science Museum, every month I’d go there and look at the maths department,” Conrad says of where his approach stems from. “I just really love objects that seem to be rational but then they contain a lot of irrationality. They have a cloak of the rational mind which has conceived and constructed them, but beyond that they are misguided.”
Rarely does anything date faster than our visions of the future, from the flying cars and under the sea croquet parties of the En L’an 2000 cigarette cards; to the need to ‘retire’ bio-engineered replicants who travel to Earth illegally and assimilate to 2019 Los Angeles, as proposed by Ridley Scott’s 1982 film, Bladerunner – although this isn’t necessarily so far from our reality of fake science propelled by GOOP-y ‘lifestylers’ and Trump-ed up news.