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Patrick Gyger is the curator of the major exhibition Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction coming to the Barbican — Europe’s largest multi-cultural arts and conference venue located in London, UK — exploring one of pop culture’s most celebrated worlds. Featuring works that have yet to be shown in the UK, this unprecedented show encompasses music, film and art to present a new, global perspective on Science Fiction.
The exhibition is on from June 3, 2017 through September 1, 2017. More information and tickets are available on Barbican’s site or by clicking here.
Digital Art Live will have a Barbican Event Meetup on July 2, 2017 and further information can be found here on our site.
During the interview, Patrick covers such topics as
- Organization of the event into four main themes: Extraordinary Voyages; Space Odysseys; Brave new Worlds, and; Final Frontiers and how each explore classic narratives of the genre in new ways.
- Relevance and appeal of Science Fiction
- Owners of the works in the exhibition
Within the podcast we asked Patrick these questions:
- During the 1990s you’ve had a focus on medieval studies, looking at crime and justice. Are there any parallels in this interest and your more current interests in curating works of science fiction?
- You’ve also published a book on the history of the flying car. What inspired you to take a close look at this niche of science fiction?
- Into the Unknown is an exhibition that is on quite an extraordinary scale for the genre of science fiction. What enthused you to create something on this scale, or did it just naturally snowball?
- How important is the goal of having a global view of science fiction in this exhibition? And the exhibition is going on tour isn’t it?
- Included are some pieces from the private sci-fi collection of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Tell us a little about Paul and his collection and the story of being able to collaborate with him.
- You are pleased to include some artwork from the notable artist Patrick Tatopoulos. Does Patrick have a particular focus with his work?
- The exhibition is divided into four chapters. Tell us what these chapters are and what would you wish people to value and come away with from each of these chapters.
- The press release talks about being able to explore these four chapters of the genre in new ways. I’m curious about what these “new ways” are — or do you want to leave that a surprise?!
- Does the Extraordinary Voyages chapter look at the roots of science fiction, where it all started?
- Tell us about a few items of what to look forward to in the largest section of the show Space Odysseys props and models from various TV shows and movies. What pieces from this section were you particularly proud to curate?
- The Brave New Worlds exhibition section, explores all kinds of different societies imagined by sci-fi writers. Is there a balance of utopian and dystopian societies represented here? What’s your favourite society that has been dreamed up?
- Tell us about a few of the more notable exhibits for the Final Frontiers part of the show — “inner realms from human perception.”
- Are there elements of the exhibition which celebrate artwork created digitally? Stills, animation or special effects?
- Science fiction is important since it allows us to explore our own humanity. It allows us to do that exploration more thoroughly than other genres and can take us to the normal limits and perhaps beyond of different circumstances. Do you have a few favourite stories that look at this exploration and are they represented in the exhibition?
- Who would you like to thank, the team in putting together this exhibition?
- Where’s the best place to go on the web to find out more on Into the Unknown?
Snippet from the transcript
DAL : So welcome, Patrick, thank you for your time today.
Patrick: Thank you for inviting me.
DAL: Now, I wanted to just talk a little bit about where you are currently director of at Le Lieu unique in France, this art center, a national art center. It sounds really interesting, not just a place for viewing art but also for inspiring artists, for bringing people together to create art. Tell me about that space that you’re directing at the moment.
Patrick: Well, Le Lieu unique is a bit like a small Barbican. It’s a place where you can go grab a coffee or beer and then see an exhibition, see a performance, dance, theater, music, go into club nights until very late at night. And so it’s open every day of the year from quite early in the morning to late at night. And, yes, it’s a place to think about the present and the future, so even though it’s not a science fiction place, obviously, we do deal a lot with Utopiales and images of the future and the society we live in because those are my strong interests.
So at the moment, for instance, we have an exhibition about mega structures, so 1960s architecture by people like Archigram, and how they imagined the future in those days. And in June, we’ll have H.R. Giger exhibition, creator of “Alien,” a big monographic show. So we’re not very far from the realms of interest while we’re here today at least.
DAL: And have you had that kind of feedback from people that have visited there that they started to…they’ve been in that space and they are thinking about the future, they are considering the artwork as contributing to that, designing the future?
Patrick: I wish I could say yes to that but I think they’re just coming to see…to have entertainment and to think about the world of today actually because we do also a lot of events on politics and we have a literature festival where we have people like Margaret Atwood, but also, we have a lot of other writers and the festival of geopolitics and philosophy. So we are kind of exploring the present to kind of bring new images of the future. So I hope people are touched by what we do. And we have this crazy ambition of transforming the world, one person at a time, but it’s a utopia so we have to kind of aim to that, but we, of course, are not gonna achieve that.
DAL: Yeah, and having that space and the exhibition that you’re curating here at the Barbican brings people into that way of thinking to hopefully, like you say, change one person at a time?
Patrick: Yeah, because I think we are, at the moment, in an environment where we lack images of the future. You know, we don’t have…not just because of the current political situation in this country or in the U.S., for instance, but simply because we are in the world which doesn’t offer many alternatives, you know. If you decide that you want to live in a commune or, you know, be off the grids or live with no money, you know, you have to gonna go very far, and you’ll be judged for that. I’m not saying this is the way people should be living, but our current environment doesn’t bring alternative image of the future, and I think it’s important to have some and to show that science fiction, for instance, has come up with all kinds of images of the future, some very strong ones, some desirable ones, some frightening ones, but in a way, it has helped, I think, shape the present.
DAL: Now, you’ve also been an author and you published a book on the history of the flying car. What inspired you to take a close look at that particular subject?
Patrick: Yeah, it does look like a subject which is ridiculous, and it’s a very, very small topic and almost like a detail, but it was a way to talk about the history of the future, really, and the future we’re promised and we never got. How, throughout the 20th century, this fabulous year of 2000 was there promising, you know, food and pills, promising super high-rises, and automatic everything, and flying cars. And why do we not have that future and why do we have this program present today which is also highly technological, but where did it change and why the means and the goals of technology have actually changed? Because the flying car is not about kind of being able to fly around, it’s about being able to be free, you know, to kind of take off anywhere anytime and, yeah, being empowered in a way.
That’s not gonna happen. Even if there is a flying car in the future, you’re not gonna be able to take off from your rooftop and fly around and all that. It’s gonna be controlled as cars are controlled today, you know. You can only drive on roads, and there are, you know, red lights and there are signs that tell you how fast you can drive. So, of course, this empowerment is not gonna be there. So the future we were promised is obviously gone, and it was also a matter to question the future that we’re promising our children today. What is it?
DAL: I think science fiction helps sustain freedom-thinking. I think in a sense, I think it encourages that, and I really like that subject of the flying car, of how it helps visualize freedom. And I think there’s many other aspects in science fiction that do the same thing.
Patrick: Yeah, science fiction, I think, is about being curious, you know, and being daring to go where nobody else has gone before, you know, or at least not that many people have gone before. And it’s a state of mind more than [inaudible 00:08:43] to kind of extrapolate and use conjecture, so “What if” genre, you know. And if you do this, what will happen? And something extraordinary, of course. That’s the entertainment value, the sense of wonder that science fiction generates. But the freedom, as you mentioned, is at the root of that and this will to take a path that is not well traveled yet.