The upcoming 77th World Science Fiction Convention is, thank God, taking place in Europe! Dublin is the hosting city and it will be at least for the next three years the last WorldCon in Europe.
An important part of every WorldCon is the Academic Track with scholars from all over the world doing research on Fantasy, Science Fiction and other Fantastic genres in all media.
I had the great honor to present at the 76th WorldCon in San José, California last year. It was my first convention in general and my first academic presentation as independent scholar and PhD candidate. I was really excited and a bit anxious but thanks to the warm-hearted, awesome audience and colleagues there it was a blast!
Because of this experience, I handed in an abstract for an individual presentation for Dublin. And it got accepted!
As this trip is using all my financial savings I would be happy if you feel like supporting Art History Fantastics. There are several ways for support! And of course there will be a special thank you!
Using historical models and turning them Science Fiction
Thoughts on visual strategies, reception ways and Art History
When we discuss the visual Science Fiction, certain elements are defining this divers genre, for example megalomaniac cities with skyscrapers that reach to the atmosphere or develop to space stations above a planet, space ships and space stations of all shapes and sizes or uncharted alien planets with organic or crafted infrastructures.
This artificial iconography of Science Fiction oscillates between the reception of actual buildings, designs or styles and the need for alienation. Depending on the plot and setting, the shown Science Fiction elements can be designed utopian or dystopian, referring to actual developments or endeavoring to give an impression of a future-to-be.
The proposed paper will discuss the strategies and reception forms in Science Fiction imagery, using the methodology of Art History. Four examples from well-known Science Fiction movies and tv shows will be used to present different ways of reception. The examples are:
- The Jedi Archive in the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy & the Library of Trinity College in Dublin
- The Norse & Celtic decorations of Asgard-related structures in Stargate and the Marvel Cinematic Universe
- The reception of the Gothic style in Jupiter Ascending
- The futuristic but at the same time realistic skyline of New York City in The Expanse
The diverse examples and reception forms are selected to underline the argument of general strategies in respective form of actual historical reception. This will be the focus of the paper after the short introduction of the above-mentioned examples.
Another goal of the paper, especially for the discussion with the audience, is to demonstrate the methodology of Art History in a fantastic context. On the one hand research on the Fantastic and its imagery is dominated by literature, social and film studies but their roots in and reception of historical art and architecture is not a common focus of research.
On the other hand, it can be stated that the academic discipline of Art History is more traditional oriented and the Fantastic is often seen as „not academic“.
The proposed paper is embedded in a large research project, including a PhD thesis, about the images of architecture in the Fantastic and the connection to actual art over the centuries. The intension is to bring together and merge both fields.