Yesterday I spent about an hour sitting on the floor at the Art Gallery of NSW taking in Ms&Mr’s stunning, melancholy XEROX MISSIVE 1977/2011. I can’t remember ever being so moved by a video installation.
“Blending reality and fiction, this mesmerising video installation fabricates an implausible and uncanny exchange between the late, infamous science fiction author Phillip K Dick and his fifth ex-wife Tessa. The work by collaborative duo Ms&Mr uses fragments of sound and footage appropriated from a speech Dick made in 1977 and a subsequent interview, which have been manipulated and combined with extracts from a recent interview with Tessa conducted by the artists at her home in California.”
Such a subtle and careful work was particularly refreshing after slogging my way through the John Kaldor Family Collection where the only bright spots where Francis Alys’ wonderful Railings, Nam June Paik’s TV Buddha and Bill Viola’s Bodies of Light. Otherwise, too many big names that seemed to shout their presence and ego: Christo, Koons, Gilbert & George and LeWitt.
Imagined Pixelation Syndrome: believing that your face is fragmenting into tiny squares, and that people can no longer recognise you.
- MICRO SPORES, Jeff Noon
January 26, 2012
predicting the present
Science fiction survives on its metaphors, catching an echo from the human context then rifling current science for an image or chain of images to act as a correlative. The rationales behind this project (including the rationale that it’s all rational, the claim that the project has, or should have, more in common with scientific discourse than poetic or political discourse) are less important to the general reader than the excitement of the found image. Science fiction is not read as a form of peer-reviewed publication.
“He was a hard shrewd jovial politician, whose acts of kindness served his interests and whose interest was himself. His type is panhuman. I had met him on Earth, and on Hain, and on Ollul. I expect to meet him in Hell.”
- The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula LeGuin
June 19, 2011
April 11, 2011
“First – and I know I’ve said it before- science fiction really isn’t in the prediction business. What it really does is hold up a distorting mirror to the time in which it is written, and takes current directions and preoccupations and speculates wildly about them. It doesn’t predict the future, but a rich variety of possible futures. Sometimes it gets it right. More often it gets it wrong, as in the example at the top of this post – Kelly Freas’s terrific painting of a space pirate swarming aboard a rocketship with a slide rule between his teeth.”
- Paul McAuley, Earth and other unlikely worlds
from Goodnight Dune, Julia Yu
‘However, in being someone with Asperger’s Syndrome who is devoted to science fiction, I am hardly alone. Surfing the Internet brings to light numerous observations that science fiction fans frequently exhibit all the traits of Asperger’s Syndrome; a recent autobiography by one man with the condition, Will Hadcroft’s The Feeling’s Unmutual: Growing Up with Asperger Syndrome (Undiagnosed) (2004), describes his youthful fascination with science fiction and fantasy; and a book designed to comfort children with Asperger’s Syndrome, Kathy Hoopmann’s Of Mice and Aliens: An Asperger Adventure (2001), describes a boy with the condition who meets a newly arrived space alien and compares the boy’s problems in adjusting to his world with the alien’s problems in adjusting to life on Earth. All explicit links between science fiction and Asperger’s Syndrome will necessarily be recent, because the condition — although first identified by Austrian doctor Hans Asperger in the 1940s — was not named until 1981 and was not accepted by the medical community until the 1990s; but there seems little doubt that Asperger’s Syndrome has been around for a long time, and some have theorized that a wide variety of historical figures, including as Isaac Newton, Ludwig van Beethoven, Jane Austen, Alexander Graham Bell, and Albert Einstein, had Asperger’s Syndrome. Still, there are reasons to believe that the condition became more and more common during the twentieth century — perhaps uncoincidentally, also the century that saw the emergence of the genre of science fiction.
Looking back at the science fiction of the 1930s pulp magazines, filled with lonely adventurers on solitary quests to distant planets and the far future, one can easily see how these stories would appeal to those young men (and some young women), then regarded only as “reclusive” or “eccentric,” who we would now classify as undiagnosed cases of Asperger’s Syndrome. As I can testify, a person with this condition always feels like an alien being in an alien world: why are all these people able to relax and have fun at this party while I am feeling so uneasy and uncomfortable? Why am I so different from everybody else? Indeed, while one typically believes that people turn to science fiction in search of colorfully unusual vicarious experiences, an entirely different set of motives often may be in play: to a teenager in the 1930s with Asperger’s Syndrome, a story about an astronaut encountering aliens on Mars might have had an air of comforting familiarity, in contrast to stories set in the bizarre, inexplicable, and thoroughly socialized worlds of Andy Hardy and the Bobbsey Twins.’
- Gary Westfahl, Homo aspergerus: Evolution Stumbles Forward