Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction

Opening in June 2017, major Barbican exhibition Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction is a genre-defining exploration of one of popular culture’s most celebrated realms. This unprecedented show takes place all over the Centre, encompassing literature, contemporary art, film, music, comic books and video games to present a new, global perspective on Science Fiction.

Curated by Swiss historian and writer Patrick Gyger, this festival-style exhibition explores Science Fiction as an experimental genre, delving into its storytelling roots to discover how its visionary creators captured imaginations around the world to become one of the most popular and enjoyable narratives today. Featuring work never before shown in the UK, the show places rare and iconic pieces alongside familiar, well-loved classics, next to new contemporary art commissions, hoping to surprise and challenge visitors’ perception of the genre.

The exhibition includes over 200 books from around the world, including original manuscripts and typescripts, contemporary art commissions and existing art works, over 60 film and TV clips, featuring some of the most memorable cinematic moments in Science Fiction as well as rare, unseen footage, pulp magazines, adverts, concept art, film props, comics, video games and robots.

Into the Unknown will showcase works from major collections, national archives, film studios and private collections around the world. On display at the Barbican for the first time are works from philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder, Paul G. Allen. Other lenders include The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, Warner Bros. Corporate Archive and the personal archives of SFX artist Patrick Tatopoulos. It will be brought to life with an immersive exhibition design by Ab Rogers (ARD).

Neil McConnon, Head of Barbican International Enterprises, said: ‘Science Fiction has enjoyed a fascinating transition from niche to pop culture in recent years but still evokes strong emotions in many. We were keen to develop an exhibition that presents a new take on this broad genre by encompassing a variety of art forms. We hope it will appeal to everyone from Science Fiction aficionados to sceptics and all those in between.’

Patrick Gyger, Curator, said: ‘Science Fiction is responsible for some of the world’s most iconic film, music, literature and art. Today, the interaction between digital, virtual and physical spheres further blurs the boundaries between it and our current reality. From 19th century cabinets of curiosities to cyberpunk, Into the Unknown takes a fresh and, at times, subversive look at the new territories, lost worlds, cosmic possibilities and virtual universes that traverse the broadest parameters of human imagination and yet are often instantly relatable.’

Alongside the main display in the Curve Gallery, the exhibition continues all over the building, in the foyers and in the Pit Theatre. There will be film screenings in the cinema, a pop up outdoor cinema on the Barbican’s sculpture court, music performances in the Barbican Hall, as well as a public programme of talks and events in partnership with New Scientist and Penguin Classics.

Barbican Centre, London, UK
Saturday 3 June – Friday 1 September 2017
Media View, Thursday 1 June 2017, 10am –1pm
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