George Lucas killed science fiction...
Since the turn of the 20th century, people have looked to the stars to imagine the unimaginable, portraying what they envisioned in words, images and eventually film. The commonality - imagination as the driving force used to visualise that which could not be seen by the naked eye, understood by the everyday thought. Science Fiction was a medium to explore notions and ideals, as much as it was one to explore visions and fantasies.
The maturing and broader acceptance of the genre, driven increasingly by film from the late 60’s, eventually saw tropes, visions, and concepts repeating. Challenging audiences by demanding they set aside their preconceived ideas, gave way to presenting that which was easily digestible – comfortable in understanding, undemanding in interpretation. The cinematic world’s demand for return on investment increasingly drove science fiction as a genre invested in entertaining the masses, no longer one to explore our deepest hopes, fears or horrors.
As a narrative, science fiction today has become a relentless rehashing of off-the-shelf, lowest common denominator, formulas in order to ensure maximum return; and in the scenario where challenging audiences is a risky investment, the narrative continues to become increasingly unchallenging. Not since Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien, with H.R. Geiger’s high concept centrepiece capturing of art, sculpture and horror in the form of his biomorphic Xenomorph, has a Western audience been asked to step outside its comfort zone, as if it was decided that was the line in the sand of acceptability, one no longer to be crossed. Today’s Western science fiction, for all but the daring few, is no longer seen as a genre, an art form, to inspire or challenge; the ‘Hollywood’ formulaic has become the norm.
While the most recent boundary for the genre can lead to extremely challenging narratives, such as Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’, the scientific anchoring of what is, should be, speculative fiction, is yet another form of stagnation. Speculation, confrontation, the blatantly unexplained, have always been the backbone of science fiction. What today is termed ‘hard science fiction’, the likes of Iain M Banks, or ‘golden era’ artists such as Chris Foss, are masters at, requires the reckless abandoning of the everyday in order to be successful. But when this is accomplished, it becomes the truest embodiment of what the genre represents, pushing every aspect of what we accept, to places that uncomfortably challenge our everyday…
Fueled by an array of non divergent influences, the The Silent explores science fiction as a visual abstraction, abandoning staid, accepted norms, to push into ideas that challenge. Juxtaposing narrative with visuals in a misaligned manner, The Silent aims to confront the audience’s own preconceptions, ones which have ultimately been formed by the increasing simplification of the genre over the past 100 years, by providing visual and written components the viewer can then assemble through their own interpretation.
With methods spanning a range of media, from the basic need to stay connected with paper via hand drawn sketches and graphite illustration, through to a gamut of digital technologies – 3D modelling, digital sculpture and motion graphics, The Silent is executed as two individual, and distinct, components: 'Catalogue Entries' – traditional design explorations to develop components and themes that may then be used in 'Visions' – finished works, delivered in the form of experimental projects.
“For a span and some they inched their way deeper into the void; inhabiting, acquiring… plundering. With each forward step another layer peeled away, revealing a new marvel the universe had held close to its chest. And with each marvel, a doorway leading them deeper still. Then, in what seemed like an instant, they vanished. Left behind, monolithic foundations spread over the void, the remains of their construct with no indication as to how, or why… or even who.
Dormant for an eon, their outposts and technologies, neatly ordered, lay in wait to be woken from slumber – the bones of a vast, ready made civilisation awaiting to begin once again.
And at the centre of this complex, a lifeless system and a planet that seemingly held the clues to what lay before; and what may lie ahead. Clues it would not give up easily…”