Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction

Photo of science fiction landscape

Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction

Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction
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

Opening in June 2017, major Barbican exhibition Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction is a genre-defining exploration of one of popular culture’s most celebrated realms. This unprecedented show takes place all over the Centre, encompassing literature, contemporary art, film, music, comic books and video games to present a new, global perspective on Science Fiction.

Curated by Swiss historian and writer Patrick Gyger, this festival-style exhibition explores Science Fiction as an experimental genre, delving into its storytelling roots to discover how its visionary creators captured imaginations around the world to become one of the most popular and enjoyable narratives today. Featuring work never before shown in the UK, the show places rare and iconic pieces alongside familiar, well-loved classics, next to new contemporary art commissions, hoping to surprise and challenge visitors’ perception of the genre.

The exhibition includes over 200 books from around the world, including original manuscripts and typescripts, contemporary art commissions and existing art works, over 50 film and TV clips, featuring some of the most memorable cinematic moments in Science Fiction as well as rare, unseen footage, pulp magazines, adverts, concept art, film props, comics, video games and robots.

Into the Unknown will showcase works from major collections, national archives, film studios and private collections around the world. On display at the Barbican for the first time are works from philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder, Paul G. Allen. Other lenders include The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, Warner Bros. Corporate Archive and the personal archives of SFX artist Patrick Tatopoulos. It will be brought to life with an immersive exhibition design by Ab Rogers (ARD).

Neil McConnon, Head of Barbican International Enterprises, said: ‘Science Fiction has enjoyed a fascinating transition from niche to pop culture in recent years but still evokes strong emotions in many. We were keen to develop an exhibition that presents a new take on this broad genre by encompassing a variety of art forms. We hope it will appeal to everyone from Science Fiction aficionados to sceptics and all those in between.’

Patrick Gyger, Curator, said: ‘Science Fiction is responsible for some of the world’s most iconic film, music, literature and art. Today, the interaction between digital, virtual and physical spheres further blurs the boundaries between it and our current reality. From 19th century cabinets of curiosities to cyberpunk, Into the Unknown takes a fresh and, at times, subversive look at the new territories, lost worlds, cosmic possibilities and virtual universes that traverse the broadest parameters of human imagination and yet are often instantly relatable.’

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 film screenings in the cinema, a pop up outdoor cinema on the Barbican’s sculpture court, music performances in the Barbican Hall, as well as a public programme of talks and events in partnership with New Scientist and Penguin Classics.

In the Curve Gallery, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey through strange lands, dystopian worlds, and virtual universes in four chapters

Extraordinary Voyages
Extraordinary Voyages explores man’s fascination with the undiscovered, unknown and inaccessible areas of planet Earth, where Science Fiction narratives first took root, looking at mysterious islands, lost worlds, voyages under the sea and in the air.

With a cabinet of curiosities, containing original manuscripts and drawings from Jules Vernes, alongside James Gurney’s Dinotopia series, and dinosaur models by Ray Harryhausen. This section also includes original models and props from films including Godzilla and Jurassic Park , concept art from One Million Years BC, and some of the most influential literature of the time, including Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, H Rider Haggard’s King Solomon's Mines, Allan Quatermain and She, Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail , Thomas More’s Utopia, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan and the Lost Empire.

Film clips include 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Thunderbirds.

Space Odysseys
Space Odysseys , the largest section of the show, looks at the narratives most commonly associated with Science Fiction, space travel, the moon, alien contact, foreign planets and other worlds.

Motion graphics and VFX specialists Territory Studio will produce a new interactive commission based on their work on Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning film The Martian, recreating a sequence from the film’s NASA Mission Control set.

Australian duo Soda_Jerk’s Astro Black is a two-channel video installation which looks at cosmic Jazz musician Sun Ra’s theories of Afrofuturism. Splicing film, music and archival footage, this speculative history draws out the nexus of Science Fiction and social politics in Black Atlantic sonic culture.

A gallery of aliens features heads, masks, skulls, models and props from films including Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Aliens, including items from The Paul G. Allen Family Collection.

The original spacesuits worn by John Hurt in Alien, Sam Rockwell in Moon, Cillian Murphy in Sunshine and Leonard Nimoy as Spock in Star Trek will be on display, alongside original Darth Vader and Stormtrooper helmets from Star Wars ™ , as well as concept art from Doug Chiang and Ralph McQuarrie.

There will also be props and models from Stargate, Star Trek, Interstellar, Independence Day and concept art from District 9, Alien and First Men in the Moon.

Space Odysseys includes illustrator and graphic novelist Martin Panchaud’s alternative adaptation of Star Wars Episode IV, SWANH.NET as an interactive work. His huge 123 metre infographic charts the entire episode in meticulous detail, including every line of dialogue, every character’s precise movements and exact dimensions of the starship’s fleet.

The exhibition will also feature artwork from some of the most influential artists in Science Fiction, including Frank R. Paul, whose 1920s magazine covers were a major influence on the genre and surrealist artist HR Giger, who realised the concept of the Alien in the 1979 Ridley Scott film, as well as vintage postcards and adverts promoting Soviet visions of space.

There will be literature from Arthur C Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama and Prelude to Space, Robert Heinlein’s Rocketship Gallileo, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Left Hand Of Darkness, Stanislav Lem’s Solaris, CS Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet, Naomi Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman and Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy’s Aelita and film clips from Aelita: Queen of Mars, Dune, Frau in Mond, Interstellar, Space is the Place and War of the Worlds.

Brave New Worlds
The third section of the show, Brave New Worlds explores spaces and societies that mankind has created for itself, from future cities with gigantic skyscrapers, vast underground networks and the highly organised spaces of dystopian worlds to disasters, wars, the apocalypse and the end of the world as we know it.

This section includes somblacke of Science Fiction’s most enduring texts, including Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, JG Ballard’s Vermillion Sands, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, William Burroughs’s Nova Express, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Doris Lessing’s Memoirs of a Survivor, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic, Ahmed Khaled Towfik’s Utopia and Yevgeny Zamiatin’s We.

With architectural plans and designs from Ben Wheatley’s recent film High Rise, other film and television clips in this chapter include Akira, 28 Days Later, Brazil, Dark City, Metropolis and The Prisoner.

Brave New Worlds also includes a selection of Soviet-era postcards depicting modernist utopian cities of the future on loan from the Moscow Design Museum.

Final Frontiers
As the boundaries of science and technology are pushed further, the final chapter, Final Frontiers looks at inner realms to question our own existence in the universe. This section explores identity, the transformation, augmentation and mutation of the body, including cyborgs, mutants, clones and robots; Artificial Intelligence and dimensional rifts including time travel, parallel worlds and alternate dimensions.

The Barbican is working with the multi-award-winning team at VFX company Double Negative to create an installation around the android Ava, star of the 2015 film Ex Machina, for which they won the Oscar for Best VFX.

Pioneering multi-media artist Dara Birnbaum’s seminal video Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman, appropriates imagery from the 1970s TV series to radically deconstruct the female pop icon for today’s audience. Dara Birnbaum was one of the first artists to subvert and critique the language of television and her provocative analysis of mass culture went on to influence generations of artists.

An autoencoded version of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, using artificial neural networks to reconstruct the film will be display, along with Sunspring – a short Science Fiction film, written entirely by an artificial intelligence bot for SciFi London’s 48-hour film challenge.

This section includes literature from Mikhaíl Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Robert Louis Stephenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as well as a selection of rare superhero comics from around the world.

Film and television clips in this chapter include Back to the Future, Doctor Who, Donnie Darko, ExistenZ, The Fly, Ghost in the Shell, The Terminator and Total Recall.

This section includes TARS from Interstellar, Robot B-9 from 1960s television series Lost in Space and a 3D model of Sonny from I-Robot as well as selection of robots from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and China from the Mint Museum of Toys in Singapore.

Barbican, Silk Street Reception

For the duration of Into the Unknown, a six foot video installation from the award-winning British TV series Black Mirror will take over the main Silk Street entrance. The new commission is based on an episode from the first series,15 Million Merits, starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jessica Brown Findlay . Written by series creator Charlie Brooker, and wife, Konnie Huq, the episode explores the negative implications of technological advancements on humanity and the relationship between spectatorship and apathy in an increasingly virtual world.

The installation cuts, splices and frames short segments from the episode, displayed across multiple screens all along the main entrance hall, to create an immersive introduction to the entire exhibition. Set in a disconcerting, futuristic dystopia, the episode centres on a society whose people live in a hyper artificial environment where they must generate credits by cycling in order to play video games and audition for a Reality TV-style talent contest.

Black Mirror is created and produced by House of Tomorrow and has received wide critical acclaim since it was first broadcast on Channel 4 in 2011. In 2012, it won Best TV Movie/Miniseries at the International Emmy Awards and has been nominated for a BAFTA Award twice, as well as numerous BAFTA Craft Awards. Black Mirror Seasons 1, 2, and 3 are now available on Netflix with season 4 coming exclusively to Netflix members in 190 countries

Black Mirror: 15 Million Merits was created by Charlie Brooker, Konnie Huq, Euros Lyn and Annabel Jones, edited by Gus Herdman

Contemporary Art in the Foyers
Alongside film clips, books, pulps, adverts, comics, posters and games, the Barbican presents both newly commissioned and existing contemporary artworks.

A new commission by British artist Conrad Shawcross uses light, movement and sound to create an installation that will take over The Pit theatre space.

Shawcross’s work is often informed by theories of scientific rationality, exploring subjects that lie on the borders of geometry and philosophy, physics and metaphysics. Recent work in 2016 includes Monolith (Optic) , which was installed in Regent’s Park as part of Frieze Sculpture Park , 2016; Paradigm, one of London’s tallest public sculptures outside the Crick Institute; The Optic Cloak, a large scale architectural intervention, at Greenwich Peninsula. During 2015 The Dappled Light of The Sun, a major courtyard commission at the Royal Academy opened during the Summer Exhibition, and solo exhibitions at the New Art Centre, Roche Court and Victoria Miro Gallery were also undertaken.

His work has also been exhibited internationally at institutions including Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; CorpArtes, Chile; ArtScience Museum, Singapore; IMMA, Dublin; Aukland Art Gallery, New Zealand; MONA, Tasmania; the Hayward Gallery, London; Tate Britain, London and Musee d’art Contemporain, Lyon.

The Barbican has also commissioned US Artist Trevor Paglen. His kinetic sculpture Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite is a prototype for an actual spacecraft that could be launched into low earth orbit and will hang prominently in the entrance to the Barbican foyers.

Crafted from reflective Mylar and aluminum, the spacecraft/sculpture is capable of collapsing into a small, lightweight canister that could be placed onboard a space-bound rocket to journey into space. If the sculpture was launched into orbit, the spacecraft would expand to become a large sail-like sculpture and would be visible to the unaided eye as a flickering, slow-moving, star-like object in the night sky, before burning up in the atmosphere without a trace. Paglen spent years in consultation with leading philosophers, scientists, engineers, artists, and historians to create an artifact that would serve as a poetic meditation on the legacy of our civilization.

As an experimental geographer and photographer, Paglen blurs the lines between science, journalism and art. Paglen's visual work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; The Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the 2008 Taipei Biennial; the 2009 Istanbul Biennial; the 2012 Liverpool Biennial, and numerous other solo and group exhibitions.

Other contemporary artworks include Isaac Julien’s 2004 work Encore II (Radioactive) , a short film study inspired by a character from the writings of Octavia Butler, an African American Science Fiction writer, best known for her recurring exploration of genetic manipulation, contamination and hybridity and David Bowie’s Starman.

The film re-digitises footage shot in Iceland and northern Sweden from Julien’s film True North (2004), a work based on the story of African-American explorer Matthew Henson, one of the key members of Robert E. Peary's 1909 Arctic expedition, and arguably the first individual to reach the North Pole. In Encore II: (Radioactive), the protagonist is recast as a cyborg played by Vanessa Myrie. Using super-8 footage from Julien’s earlier video experiments which were shot in 1980, whilst he was studying at St. Martin’s School of Art, the film manipulates the Icelandic landscape and its surroundings, imbuing them with a visual and sonic electronic aura that dislocates the setting from a specific time and place.

Julien first garnered a cult following worldwide after the release of his critically acclaimed documentary drama Looking for Langston exploring the life of Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance; while his debut feature film, Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival. His recent work, Ten Thousand Waves premiered at the 2010 Sydney Biennale and went on to be exhibited worldwide, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris.

Palestinian video artist Larissa Sansour’s film In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain, which fuses Science Fiction, archaeology and politics to explore the role of myth in history, fact and national identity.

Larissa Sansour was born in East Jerusalem, Palestine and now lives and works in London. Her work is interdisciplinary, utilising video, photography, sculpture and installation and often explores the tug and pull of fiction and reality in a Middle-Eastern context. Her first London solo exhibition opened at The Mosaic Rooms in Summer 2016 and her work has also been exhibited at Tate Modern, London; the Centre Pompidou, France and the Istanbul Biennial, Turkey.

Three short films will be screened in the foyers:
Afronauts by New York writer Frances Bodomo, inspired by the true story of the short-lived Zambia space programme in an imagined alternative history of the 1960s Space Race.

Pumzi ( Breath in Swahili) by Kenyan film director Wanuri Kahiu. An Afrofuturist short film, set in a post-apocalyptic world where water is scarce, it follows one scientist's quest to find life and grow seeds beyond the confines of her repressive subterranean Nairobi community.

Invisible Cities #Part 4 #Stations by Pierre-Jean Giloux, which reconstructs some of the architectural projects of the Japanese Metabolism movement, which aimed to revolutionise the cities of the future along the lines of organic growth.

The foyers will also host a jukebox of Science Fiction- inspired music, with three listening booths and a free interactive section of Science Fiction video games.

The show is created and produced by Barbican International Enterprises – the team behind the Barbican’s successful Digital Revolution (2014) which attracted 93,000 visitors to the Centre before embarking on an international tour. Co-produced by Brandts - Museum of Art & Visual Culture, Denmark and Onassis Cultural Centre, Greece (where Digital Revolution was their most successful show to date), the exhibition will subsequently be staged at both venues, before embarking on an international tour.

Into the Unknown is part of the Barbican’s 2017 Film in Focus programme – a year celebrating the power of the moving image and its influence across the arts.

Related Events and Public Programme

The exhibition will be accompanied by a public programme of talks, debates, concerts and screenings, to be held around the Centre; as well as a dedicated exhibition catalogue.

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 £18.50, 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 Barbican dystopian towers 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 OdysseyU

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 MoonU ( 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.

US/UK 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 SciFi cult films from around the world will take place every other Sunday during Summer 2017.

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

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 12A

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) stopes taking his medications, 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 ManPG

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 15

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 15*

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 salvation.

Poland 1985 Dir Piotr Szulkin 88 min

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

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

Tuesday 13 June , 6.45pm, Benugo Beech Street
Barbican Film Quiz : Science Fiction Special
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.

Exhibition details
The exhibition is created and produced by Barbican International Enterprises with guest curator Patrick Gyger, with support from Andy Sawyer (Science Fiction Foundation), Louis Savy (Sci-Fi-London), Alyona Sokolnikova (Moscow Design Museum), as well as Conrad Bodman, Paul Gravett, Yasmin Khan, John Dunning and Tade Thompson. The exhibition will be designed by Ab Rogers (ARD). Visual identity by Praline.

Into the Unknown : A Journey through Science Fiction is sponsored by Reed Smith LLP

Exhibition curator
Patrick J. Gyger (b. 1971) is a Swiss historian and writer. From 1999 to 2011, he was the director of "Maison d’Ailleurs" in Switzerland, a museum housing one of the world’s largest collections of Science Fiction material. He has produced more than thirty exhibitions on the genre and published extensively. Some of his recent research has resulted in a book on flying cars in fact and fiction (Haynes, 2011). In October 2008, he opened Espace Jules Verne, a new permanent wing of Maison d'Ailleurs devoted to Extraordinary Journeys. Gyger was also artistic director of the "Utopiales" Festival International in Nantes, France, from 2001 to 2005. Since January 2011, he has directed le lieu unique, a national centre for contemporary arts in Nantes, a leading multidisciplinary venue for theatre, dance, visuals arts, music and literature.

Exhibition advisors

Conrad Bodman is the Head of Interpretation at the British Film Institute, where he develops film and digital projects. He was previously Guest Curator of Digital Revolution, the Barbican Centre’s first major digital exhibition. Conrad also developed the permanent exhibition Screen Worlds: The Story of Film, Television and Digital Culture at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI‎) where he was Head of Exhibitions.

John Harris Dunning is a London-based writer and curator. He has written for The Guardian and Metro newspapers, and has contributed to numerous magazines. Specialising in comics writing and drawing, John’s work has appeared at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) as a part of the Comica Festival in 2003. He also curated Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK at the British library in 2014. His graphic novel Salem Brownstone is available in the UK and America.

Paul Gravett is a London-based author, curator and specialist in comic art. He is the author of Manga: 60 Years Of Japanese Comics (2004), co-author of Graphic Novels: Stories To Change Your Life (2005) and winner of the Locus Award for Best Art Book (2005). Paul Gravett has curated a number of exhibitions on comic art in Britain and across Europe including co-curating Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK at The British Library in 2014.

Yasmin Khan is a freelance writer, cultural consultant and director of Covalent Creative Partnerships. She has over 16 years of experience conceiving and delivering projects and exhibitions across the museums and heritage sector. Khan is also the founding producer of Sindbad Sci-Fi, a platform dedicated to Arab Science Fiction which focuses on collaboration with artists and authors to deliver participatory events at major festivals and venues.

Louis Savy is the founder and festival director and programmer for the SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival. Over its 16 years the festival has grown into a credible launchpad for international independent short and feature films. Louis also runs a 48hr film challenge as part of the event and has helped create over 1000 short films, as well as producing several shorts of his own and an award-winning feature film.

Andy Sawyer is a librarian, critic, editor and an active contributor to the scholarship of Science Fiction. He works in Special Collections and Archives at the University of Liverpool Library, running the Science Fiction Foundation’s Library. He also directed a Science Fiction Studies Master’s programme for the University’s Department of English.

Alyona Sokolnikova holds a PhD, and is Curator and Researcher at Moscow Design Museum. She also teaches critical and cultural studies at the British Higher School of Art And Design in Moscow, specialising in Soviet design history.

Tade Thompson is an award-winning writer who grew up in West Africa. His background is in medicine, psychiatry and social anthropology. His most recent novel is Rosewater. He is the UK spokesperson for the African Speculative Fiction Society.