|Eve Of The War
|New York Times review of Science Fiction Museum (Seattle)
|Page 1 of 1|
|Author:||Carioca [ Tue May 24, 2005 8:52 pm ]|
|Post subject:||New York Times review of Science Fiction Museum (Seattle)|
Here is a link to a wonderful article/review about the Science Fiction Museum & Hall of Fame that appears on New York Times.com:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/24/arts/ ... if.html?hp
You need to register at the site (FREE) to view the actual article with photos, so I've posted a duly credited version below.
The War of the Worlds exhibit is mentioned, including the Alvim Corrêa collection I loaned to the Museum!
"New York Times.com
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
Published: May 24, 2005
SEATTLE, May 22 - "Most museums show you history," boasts the year-old Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, but "only one takes you to the future."
And so it does, if the future includes the life-size model of the Alien Queen from James Cameron's 1986 movie "Aliens"; a first edition of Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles" (1950); a collection of phaser guns from "Star Trek" (1966-present); the vinyl raincoat worn by Joanna Cassidy in the 1982 film "Blade Runner"; and a half-size replica of the roving explorer "Sojourner," used on the surface of Mars in 1997.
Actually, of course, it isn't the future being shown, and it isn't really history either. It's something like a history of the future, or a history of ideas about the future. And as it unfolds here, it is dizzying in its miscellany. It also has some unusual resonances right now because science-fiction franchises like the "Star Wars" films and "Star Trek" series have just been brought to a close.
In the museum, the influence of those epics is unmistakable, with sound effects and lighting shaping each exhibit's environment. A "Stardock" window even seems to look out into cinematic space, where ships from "E. T." and "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" (along with antiques like H. G. Wells's moon capsule), glide past one another as observers at touch-screens learn about their origins and powers.
Other displays mix genres and media with almost gleeful abandon. A vest worn by Michael York in "Logan's Run" (1976) is not far from a first edition of an Ursula K. Le Guin novel and a copy of Mad magazine. Hauntingly delicate drawings by a little-known Brazilian artist, Alvim Corrêa, illustrating a 1906 Belgian edition of H. G. Wells's "War of the Worlds," are around the corner from models of extraterrestrials assembled in a mock intergalactic saloon similar to the one in "Star Wars."
It is as if a molecular manipulator out of "The Fly" had scrambled a century of objects, grafting together disparate media and creatures.
But within this phantasmagorical array of memorabilia, film and collectibles, a portrait of the history of the future does begin to take shape. The opening exhibit room, wrapped in a band of stars like a planetarium, offers a timeline of science fiction as the exhibits survey its preoccupations, its overlap with real science, its concerns with society, its fans turned practitioners.
And the museum itself is really a rough first draft of that history, created by the Microsoft billionaire, Paul G. Allen, 52, largely out of his own collection. He gave it a $20 million, 13,000-square-foot home in the same Frank O. Gehry building as the $240 million museum devoted to one of Mr. Allen's other passions - rock music; in the Experience Music Project, as it is called, Jimi Hendrix's guitar is as readily displayed as Captain Kirk's tunic is here. In fact, scaled back ambitions for the music project, which has been having problems meeting original expectations, created room for the Science Fiction Museum in a space once used for a three-story thrill ride.
But the museum doesn't leave science fiction at the level of toys and hobby horses. It is a good place to be reminded that a genre that 80 years ago was on the margins is now, at least in its cinematic incarnations, at the very center of culture.
Science fiction pulp magazines once featured what insiders called "BBB's" fleeing "BEM's" - "Brass Bra Babes" fleeing "Bug-Eyed Monsters." Not for long. Writers of the mid-20th century turned science fiction into something more profound; many recent writers have been scientists themselves.
Even modern cinema, with its sound effects and computer-generated worlds, was shaped by science fiction: George Lucas's 1977 "Star Wars" film was a declaration of independence and dominance for the genre, setting it on its current course. The long-term television and movie saga of "Star Trek" also created new types of fans, satirized and paid homage to in the film "Galaxy Quest" (1999).
The ends of these franchises do not, of course, mark an end to the genre's importance, nor do they portend an era of dissolution. And while, aside from the cinematic items, the museum's center of gravity seems to rest in the 1970's, causing it to lean backward rather than forward, the collection also provides a glimpse of science fiction's enduring appeal.
The History of the FutureIt is astonishing, for example, how often boundaries between fantasy and reality are broken down in the exhibits themselves. Objects from "Star Trek" are real ("The phaser," we are told, "was developed early in the 23rd century as a defensive weapon"), while other objects, like a 1951 Dick Tracy radio, are called toys. A "Starfleet communicator badge" from "Star Trek" is labeled a "reproduction" presumably because it was not really a "communicator" used on the show.
But in an exhibit of uniforms, a tunic from the 1956 film "Forbidden Planet" shares the same case as a NASA space suit from the Gemini program. Fiction and fact intermingle.
This is one point of an exhibit devoted to "War of the Worlds" (which is now being made into two feature films). It offers a recording of Orson Welles's 1938 radio broadcast, which famously caused listeners to believe a Martian invasion was taking place in New Jersey.
After a broadcast in Ecuador a few years later, the exhibit tells us, the news that it had only been a radio drama led to riots, the storming of a radio station and multiple deaths.
This reaction, however extreme, is a fantasy for fantasists: science fiction's account of the future is not meant to be fantasy. Instead it creates a kind of "thought experiment." As one exhibit points out, it asks "What if ..." What if you only saw the stars every 2,000 years?
This is an approach used within science as well, testing understanding and exploring possibilities; scientists often point to science fiction as an early influence. The museum's director, Donna Shirley, has said that reading Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles" at the age of 12 inspired her career. At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, she managed the Mars Exploration Program; here, she helped mount the museum's Mars exhibit, which juggles science fiction and fact.
Alternate realities, of course, appeal to adolescents as well as inventors, and in some ways Mr. Allen's museums lean toward the former, enshrining his own adolescent passions.
Indeed, right now, the collection determines too readily what is shown: a series of exhibits about dystopias and utopias could have been far more powerful had the objects been selected more carefully, and the ideas more thoroughly explored.
But the passion and homage are welcome. For science fiction may really aspire to be more like history than fantasy, not because it aspires to be true, but because it aspires to know what could possibly be true. Often, in fact, it is less preoccupied with the future than with the past; studying "what was?" can help show "what if?" Mr. Lucas's first three "Star Wars" films, for example, actually oppose the onslaught of the future. The villains are the masters of gleaming technology; the heroes are retro and ramshackle, in touch with the lost powers of the past.
So histories of the future really deserve a museum, if only to suggest where they might go next."
|Author:||eveofthewar [ Tue May 24, 2005 9:24 pm ]|
Thanks for posting that Carioca
|Page 1 of 1||All times are UTC|
|Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group