Geek Day Out: Into the Un­known

Step into sci­ence fic­tion with the Bar­bican’s bold, in­ter­ac­tive ex­plo­ration of the genre

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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

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