George Orwell’s 1984 was written during the Second World War and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 was released in 1968. That these moments of cultural upheaval produced two such extreme visions of the future is hardly a surprise; sometimes referred to as speculative fiction, science fiction is premised on a radical re-imagining of the cultural moment. Whether optimistic or cautionary, any representation of a set of social conditions that differs from the author’s own are bound to that author’s aspirations for the present, making science fiction a genre often read for its political import.
With futures proposed by 1984, 2001, and so many other works of science fiction now set in our past, it is also a genre that has developed into a highly codified language with easily recognized aesthetic forms. Thus, science fiction has a history subject to both scholarly scrutiny and artistic employment, and both forms of engagement can explore science fiction’s relationship to its contemporary environment, speculative possibilities, and the tropes of the genre.
In response to the utopic and dystopic elements in Smack Mellon’s current exhibitions, Ad Hoc Vox has gathered together practitioners, critics, and scholars who have studied science fiction’s role in literature, film, and architecture to discuss what possibilities science fiction offers contemporary artists. Matt Borruso moderates the panel, followed by a Q&A with the audience.
Featuring Matt Borruso, Ed Halter, Carrie Hintz, Geoff Manaugh, and Brian Francis Slattery.
MATT BORRUSO is an artist who lives and works in San Francisco. His recent solo shows include Return To Holy Mountain at 2nd Floor Projects and Full Spectrum Aura at Steven Wolf Fine Arts. He received his MFA in painting from Yale University and currently teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute.
ED HALTER is a critic and curator living in Brooklyn. His writing has appeared in Artforum, The Believer, The Village Voice and elsewhere, and his book From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Videogames was published in 2006. He is a founder and director of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art.
CARRIE HINTZ is Associate Professor of English at Queens College/CUNY and The Graduate Center/CUNY, and the President of the Society for Utopian Studies. She is the author of An Audience of One: Dorothy Osborne's Letters to Sir William Temple, 1652-54 and the co-editor (with Elaine Ostry) of Utopian and Dystopian Writing for Children and Young Adults. She is currently working on a book about spousal/ partner memoirs and biographies.
GEOFF MANAUGH is the author of BLDGBLOG and The BLDGBLOG Book, former Senior Editor of Dwell Magazine, and contributing editor at Wired UK. He has lectured at museumsconferences, and design schools around the world.
BRIAN FRANCIS SLATTERY wrote the science-fiction novels Spaceman Blues: A Love Song and Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America. He edits public-policy publications for a variety of think tanks; he also is one of the editors of the New Haven Review, a journal based in New Haven, CT. Finally, he plays fiddle, banjo, and a little guitar, in as many styles as he can get his head and fingers around.