Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction (Barbican, Jun-Sep)

The genre-defining exhibition of art, design, film & literature

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


A public programme of talks, debates, concerts and screenings has been announced to coincide with the Barbican’s major summer exhibition Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction, which runs 3 June to 1 September.

This unprecedented show takes place all over the Centre, encompassing literature, contemporary art, film, music, comic books and video games to present a genre-defining exploration of one of popular culture’s most celebrated realms.

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 a pop up outdoor cinema on the Barbican’s sculpture court, SciFi Sundays in the Cinema, music performances in the Barbican Hall, as well as a public programme of talks in partnership with New Scientist and Penguin Classics, around the exhibition’s four chapters: Extraordinary Voyages, Space Odysseys, Brave New Worlds and Final Frontiers in partnership with New Scientist and Penguin Classics.

New Scientist Presents: The Tomorrow Club

Auditorium 1, Barbican
Tickets £25, including entry to the exhibition

Is the golden age of exploration just beginning? Who decides what the future looks like? Do we really need reality anymore? And is it time we let go of our humanity?

New Scientist presents a series of conversations on the themes of the Barbican’s landmark exhibition, Into the Unknown. Leading scientific and cultural figures will explore how today’s cutting-edge ideas, discoveries and inventions inspire the literature, art and games of tomorrow- and vice versa.

Thursday 15 June, 7.30pm
The Explorers’ Club

In the first of the series, Adam Roberts (author of Twenty Trillion Leagues under the Sea and a forthcoming biography of H.G. Wells) talks to Stephen Baxter (author of Wells sequels The Time Ships and The Massacre of Mankind) in The Explorers’ Club. Are today’s writers inspired by the research done at NASA or CERN, as Verne and Wells were by the gentlemen scientists of their day? And are today’s high-tech explorers driven by the same passions as their steampunk precursors?

Thursday 29 June , 7.30pm
The Dreamers’ Club

In The Dreamers’ Club, speculative architect Liam Young, co-founder of think-tank Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today, talks to Piers Bizony, author of numerous books about spaceflight and of The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. As we’ve moved from oil paintings to computer graphics, our imagined futures have become both more fantastic and more realistic at the same time. So who decided what the future should look like? And how does what we imagine inspire what we invent?

Thursday 13 July, 7.30pm
The Gamers’ Club

Reality is overrated. That’s the provocation for The Gamers’ Club, in which gamer and playwright Lucy Prebble (author of Enron and The Effect) talks to Pat Kane (curator of FutureFest and author of The Play Ethic). Our imaginations have conjured up worlds ranging from gleaming utopian cities to grubby post-apocalyptic shelters. We can increasingly immerse ourselves in these worlds, through films, games and now virtual reality. So what happens when the simulation becomes better than the real thing?

Thursday 27 July, 7.30pm
The Transhumanists’ Club

The series closes with The Transhumanists’ Club, in which geneticist, author and broadcaster Adam Rutherford (presenter of the BBC’s Inside Science and author of A Brief History of Everyone who Ever Lived) talks to digital anthropologist Beth Singler, who studies the social implications of almost-human machines, and award winning writer Joanna Kavenna (author of A Field Guide to Reality). From artificial intelligence to genetic engineering, we’ll soon be able to remake ourselves. Do such technologies endanger our humanity, or enhance it?

Penguin Classics Book Club

Fountain Room, Barbican
Tickets £17, including entry to the exhibition

Penguin Classics, in partnership with the Barbican, presents a series of book club events to discuss some of Science Fiction’s most influential and popular works. Taking a title from each section of the exhibition, Penguin Classics invites readers to discuss, debate and dissect their favourite works with journalists, writers and academics. These events are open to all, although it is recommended that attendees have a familiarity with the title being discussed.

Thursday 29 June , 7.30pm
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Henry Eliot, Creative Editor of Penguin Classics, will chair a discussion on Anthony Burgess’s dystopian classic A Clockwork Orange, between journalist, performer and award-winning writer A. L. Kennedy and Andrew Biswell, Director of the International Burgess Foundation, Professor of Modern Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University and editor of A Clockwork Orange: The Restored Edition.

Thursday 6 July , 7.30pm
The Island of Dr Moreau, by H.G. Wells

Deborah Bowman, Professor of Ethics and Law at St George’s, University of London and Roger Luckhurst, Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London talk to Penguin Classics Publishing Director, Simon Winder.

Thursday 13 July , 7.30pm
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Angela Wright, Professor in Romantic Literature at University of Sheffield talks to Creative Editor at Penguin Classics, Henry Eliot. Wright’s critical study of Mary Shelley is due to be published later this year.

Thursday 20 July , 7.30pm
Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

Polly Toynbee, Political Columnist at The Guardian and recipient of the Orwell Prize for journalism and Richard Keeble, Chair of the Orwell Society, editor of Orwell Today and Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln talk to Senior Commissioning Editor at Penguin Classics, Jessica Harrison.

Barbican Outdoor Cinema

25 -27 August 2017, Barbican Sculpture Court
Tickets £18

The first ever Barbican Outdoor Cinema will take place on the estate’s Sculpture Court, hosting a specially curated Science Fiction programme over August Bank Holiday weekend.

Friday 25 August, 8.30pm
2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick’s intergalactic epic presents science fiction as poetry, with some of the most memorable sequences in cinematic history.

As the opening notes of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra play, we witness a group of prehistoric ape-men bewildered by the appearance of a mysterious black monolith. Moving forward millions of years, we meet American scientist Dr Heywood Floyd as he ventures out to a lunar outpost to investigate a perplexing discovery – a black monolith. Months later, astronauts David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) are bound for Jupiter on the spaceship Discovery. Their only company onboard are three hibernating colleagues, and HAL-9000, the talking computer that’s in control of the whole ship, who bears all of the technical skills of the scientists that made it – and all of their flaws.

Confounding, meditative, and hypnotic, 2001 is perhaps Kubrick’s defining masterpiece: a visual feast that grapples with philosophy, the future and the folly of man.

US/UK 1968 Dir Stanley Kubrick 149 min

Saturday 26 August, 8.30pm

Jeff Bridges stars in this landmark work in the history of computer animation, an innovative marvel that’s just as dazzling today.

Now the proprietor of a video arcade, software engineer and game developer Kevin Flynn used to work at animation corporation ENCOM – until he was ripped off by his colleague Ed Dillinger (David Warner), who stole his ideas and passed them off as his own. Determined to expose the truth, Flynn breaks into ENCOM to find the stolen code. It’s going well until he’s spotted by Dillinger’s security, the Master Control Program, and digitised and turned into a data stream, trapping him in the internal graphical world of computers. It’s in this vivid, hyper-colourful grid that Flynn joins forces with the benevolent Tron to overpower the Master Control Program.

US 1982 Dir Steven Lisberger 96 min

Sunday 27 August, 8.30pm
Gravity 2D12A + A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune)

Alfonso Cuarón’s visually spectacular space-set thriller is a beautiful and frightening look at the mysteries of space, and the strength of the human spirit.

Astronaut Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and engineer Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are completing a routine space station repair, when they hear from Mission Control (Ed Harris) that something has gone terribly wrong. Stranded in space, the pair must to draw on all their expertise and ingenuity. But their task is dangerous, and soon enough, the difficulty of their mission becomes apparent.

Captivating from start to finish, the awesome effects of Gravity are aided by a fantastic score, composed by Steven Price, cinematography by Oscar-winner Emmanuel Lubezki, and visual effects by Framestore.

We precede the screening with a showing of Georges Méliès’ hugely influential space fantasy from 1902, A Trip the Moon.

UK/US 2013 Dir Alfonso Cuarón 91 min
France 1902 Dir Georges Méliès 15 min

SciFi Sundays

Barbican Cinemas
Tickets £10.50

A series of screenings of cult science fiction films from around the world will take place every other Sunday during Summer 2017.

Sunday 18 Jun, 4pm, Cinema 3
Ikarie XB-1

Beautifully capturing the excitement of space exploration and the fear of the venturing into the unknown, Ikarie XB-1 is a classic of Eastern Bloc cinema.

In the year 2163, the united government of Earth launches a mission to explore deep space, sending a rocket and crew to the ‘White Planet’, a mysterious planet orbiting a distant star. The 28-month journey takes its toll on the crew, with the claustrophobia driving one man to insanity.

Czechoslovakia 1963 Dir Jindřich Polák 88 min

Sunday 2 July, 4pm, Cinema 1
THX 1138

George Lucas’ feature film directorial debut is a hypnotic, evocative and bleak dystopian science fiction drama.

It’s the 25th Century, and individuality is prohibited by the totalitarian state – uniforms and shaved heads are mandatory; sex is banned; and everyone is sedated by mind-altering drugs to ensure their compliance with the government. But when factory worker THX 1138 (people are designated a string of characters and digits instead of names) stops taking his meditation, he discovers the power of his own will – and his life is changed forever.

US 1971 Dir George Lucas 95 min

Sunday 16 July, 4pm, Cinema 3
Letters from a Dead Man

Written and directed by Konstantin Lopushansky, the protégé of Andrei Tarkovsky, Letters from a Dead Man is a bleakly powerful film from the late Soviet era.

In a barren, nuclear-ravaged landscape, Professor Rolan Bykov sits alone in a bomb shelter. Certain that he too will perish, he begins to write letters to his son Eric, who he hopes is still alive.

Surely inspired by the Chernobyl disaster, this speculative film is harrowing, despairing and, somehow, strangely beautiful.

USSR 1986 Dir Konstantin Lopushansky 87 min

Sunday 30 July, 4pm, Cinema 3
Soylent Green

An iconic slice of science fiction cinema, Soylent Green sets a police procedural in a disturbing dystopian future.

In New York City in the year 2022, the world has become massively overpopulated and polluted. The streets are overcrowded, the oceans are drying up, and resources are running out. The population mostly survives on rationed food, particularly Soylent Green, a protein-rich wafer produced by the Soylent Corporation, supposedly made from plankton. When a member of the wealthy elite is murdered, detective Frank Thorn (Charlton Heston) takes on a case that penetrates right through to the shocking truth at the heart of Soylent.

US 1973 Dir Richard Fleischer 93 min

Sunday 6 August 4pm, Cinema 3
O-bi, O-ba: The End of Civilization

In a post-apocalyptic future, we’re introduced to a group of humans living in a decrepit, isolated underground vault. The only thing that keeps them going is the promise of The Ark, a mysterious vessel said to be coming to their rescue. But does The Ark even exist?

Like Waiting for Godot transferred to a post-nuclear society, O-bi O-ba is a tale of suffering and hopeless resilience, skewering any idea of redemption or saviour.

Poland 1985 Dir Piotr Szulkin 88 min

Sunday 20 August, 4pm, Cinema 3
Warning from Space

Part of the wave of monster films produced in Japan after the success of Godzilla, Warning from Space is a brilliantly weird piece of vintage Japanese sci-fi.

The film opens with a group of bizarre, starfish-shaped aliens discussing how to warn humans about impending disaster – a rogue planet is hurtling towards earth. Meanwhile, a physician Dr Matsuda works on a nuclear formula – a formula that could create the device required to stop the rogue planet from colliding with the world.

One of the films that inspired Stanley Kubrick in his creation of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Warning from Space is a classic example of tokusatsu cinema, a special effects heavy subgenre of Japanese film.

1956 Japan Dir Koji Shima 87 min

Barbican Film Quiz: Science Fiction Special

Tuesday 13 June , 6.45pm, Benugo Beech Street
Tickets: £3 entry per person; teams up to 6 people. First come, first served. Arrive early to avoid disappointment

Know your Grand Moff Tarkin from your Tarkovsky? Then come along and try your hand at our ever popular and occasionally fiendish Film Quiz, with a special music round, hosted by Soundtracks. You could win some great prizes and take home the glory.

Wednesday 9 August, 7.30pm, Barbican Library
Nerd Nite

Tickets: £6 in advance. Check for more information and on sale dates

Nerd Nite is a monthly event held in more than 90 cities across the globe during which several folks give 18-21-minute fun-yet-informative presentations across all disciplines – while the audience drinks along.

Dr Morgan Beeby, Lecturer in Structural Biology at Imperial College, explores the potential of molecular machines, from delivering chemotherapy drugs direct to cancer cells to destroying an entire country, what the impact on society and humanity would be. Programmer Chris Jones looks at the economics of Sci Fi and asks whether a Star Trek economy could actually work and Dr Sarita Robinson investigates the psychology of Dr Who.

Thursday 8 June , 7.30pm, Milton Court Concert Hall, Jeff Mills: Life to Death and Back Again
Friday 9 June , 7.30pm, Cinema, Jeff Mills: The Fantastic Voyage
Saturday 10 June, 7.30pm, Hall, Jeff Mills: Light from the Outside World
Monday 12 June, 7.30pm, Hall, Jeff Mills: Planets

Ticket prices: £20–35 plus booking fee
Produced by the Barbican

American techno pioneer Jeff Mills presents a series of innovative conceptualised events entitled From Here to There which marry electronic music with symphonic sounds and other art forms. The project features three UK premieres alongside a return of Light From The Outside World, which sold out at the Barbican in October 2015. In Fantastic Voyage, Mills DJs a live cine-mix soundtrack for the cult film directed by Richard Fleischer. Life To Death And Back combines documentary, contemporary dance, live music performance and Egyptian mythology. Originally filmed in Le Musée du Louvre in Paris, and incorporating a 30 minute dance piece, the piece depicts the 12 stages of reincarnation. The orchestral concert Light From The Outside World returns, and this time sees Mills perform 14 compositions, including the new track Utopia with Britten Sinfonia. Mills’ final Barbican concert is The Planets, inspired by Holst’s The Planets – a 21st century meditation on our new understanding of the solar system.

Saturday 29 July, 7.30pm, Hall
Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason: Music for Sólaris

Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason’s collaboration takes its inspiration from Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1973 sci-fi film Solaris. Frost and Bjarnason’s compositions include the futuristic atmospheres and pulses associated with sci-fi soundtracks; yet here they are built upon the warm qualities of a string orchestra (Poland’s Sinfonietta Cracovia), a gentle piano with warping and melting harmonies, and waves upon waves of guitar. The score was created through an appropriately innovative process, where Frost’s and Bjarnasson’s initial sketches were improvised to the film and fed through music software that attempted to ‘correct’ their distorted sounds into digital musical data. The music will be performed with a video accompaniment by Brian Eno and Nick Robertson.

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