1984–2001: Science Fiction

Sunday 11-08-09 4 pm
Smack Mellon, 92 Plymouth St, Brooklyn
1984–2001: Science Fiction

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.