Geek Day Out: Into the Unknown
Step into science fiction with the Barbican’s bold, interactive exploration of the genre
Step into science fiction with the Barbican’s bold, interactive exploration of the genre.
If you’ve seen Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker’s dark prediction of the near-future, it’s unlikely you thought his social media dystopia was something you’d like to experience.
The Barbican thinks differently. Its Into the Unknown exhibition covers science fiction in books, film, music and more – starting with an interactive exhibit that lets visitors step into an episode of the dark show.
“Science fiction has never been so popular and what was once considered niche is now all around us,” said Mia Florin-Sefton, a Barbican spokesperson, noting that the London art venue’s brutalist architecture particularly suits the subject.
The exhibition features 800 objects, covering film, art, video games and music. They include the original Darth Vader and Stormtrooper helmets from Star Wars, spacesuits from Alien, Moon, Sunshine and Star Trek, as well as robots and an installation based on the android Ava from Ex Machina.
There’s also an interactive sequence from the set of The Martian. “This will recreate a scene from the film’s NASA Mission Control set and… relies on audience participation and offers a real hands-on interactive experience,” said Florin-Sefton.
And then there’s the 6ft Black Mirror video installation, which will welcome visitors in the main entrance. “This installation will cut, splice and frame segments from the widely acclaimed episode Fifteen Million Merits, to create a dystopian, disconcerting and immersive entrance to the exhibition,” said Florin-Sefton. “Through taking over the entire Silk Street entrance, the installation will deliberately mimic the very premise of the episode: the overwhelming presence of virtual screens and our increasing overreliance on them.”
She added: “It raises pertinent questions about the relationship between spectatorship and apathy in an increasingly virtual world; asking whether the maintenance of our
There will also be films on show, including a version of Blade Runner reconstructed via neural networks
virtual avatars is becoming increasingly more important to us than our real selves.”
If staring at a screen sets your pulse racing, other films are on show too, including a version of Blade Runner reconstructed via neural networks and a short film called Sunspring written by AI. There are also outdoor screenings of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Tron and Gravity.
There will be a series of panel discussions with New Scientist, a book club with Penguin Classics publishing and concerts, including Ben Frost and Daniel Bjarnason leading a performance of their music from Solaris.
The range of exhibits shows how science fiction has touched many art forms, FlorinSefton added. “We hope that the exhibition will appeal to everyone from science fiction fans to sceptics, film, music and literature lovers, writers, the contemporary art world, families and anyone who has dreamed of delving into the unknown.”
Into the Unknown runs from 3 June until 1 September at London’s Barbican. Tickets cost £14.50. Head to barbican.org.uk/intotheunknown.
ABOVE LEFT 2001: A Space Odyssey will be screened outdoors
LEFT The exhibition features the first edition of Amazing Stories magazine
ABOVE A clip from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is on display