Science Fiction and the City: Film Fest Recap

The event last night was a blast, and so I want to thank everyone for coming out, especially the four panelists, Ryan Church, James Clyne, Mark Goerner, and Ben Procter; but I also want to thank Leslie Marcus, from the Art Center College of Design; Kyle Maynard, for his technical assistance; my wife, for photographing the whole thing; Scott Robertson, for putting me in touch with the panelists in the first place; and Jenna Didier & Oliver Hess of Materials & Applications, for helping put this whole event together.

[Images: The event, photographed by Nicola Twilley. From left to right, top to bottom, you’re seeing the Wind Tunnel itself; BLDGBLOG introducing the speakers; Mark Goerner and James Clyne; the audience; Ben Procter; some of Ben’s concept art for Superman Returns; Ryan Church, Mark Goerner, and James Clyne; Ben Procter presenting while Ryan Chuch looks on (two images); and Ryan Church presenting some of his concept art for Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, with Ben Procter and Mark Goerner visible either side].

There were some slips here and there – including nearly ten seconds of awesomely explosive feedback that put Merzbow to shame – and the Q&A period at the end barely got off the ground before we had to move on to screening the films; but I was really excited to see a full house – Wired magazine was even there – and to get a look at so many truly awesome works of concept art, from impossible structures and fantasy buildings to hybridized cities and a planet made from bridges – not to mention surreal juxtapositions of Czech cubism, military aerodynamism, automotive design, origami, Hieronymous Bosch, High Gothic machine-towers, and “what the Roman empire would have looked like if it had had structural steel.”
It was also great just to meet the panelists themselves, finally, and to have contributed at least a tiny bit to the beginnings of a much larger conversation about film, science fiction, and architecture.
With any luck, then, there will be another event of the same nature soon – or possibly a web feature here on BLDGBLOG – so we can continue what we started: to look at more of this stuff, and to ask these guys more questions, and maybe even to find out what it means that architecture students, for instance, know all about Archigram and Piranesi and the Pamphlet Architecture series, and they know all about paper architects from Boullée to Lebbeus Woods, but so many genuinely exciting architectural ideas – from science fiction films and the background of Hollywood blockbusters – are only casually, if ever, discussed.
As it is, the canon of accepted architectural history excludes this stuff – for no real reason. Unless it’s Metropolis or maybe Jacques Tati. But architects should be watching Minority Report as much as they read Charles Jencks or even Rem Koolhaas.
In any case, I thought the event was fun, though I apologize for the wild bursts of feedback and for the 5-minute delay in starting – but I’m glad you came out, if you did, and I hope you had a good time. And if you found the conversation cut too short at the end – as I did – then feel free to say what you wished had been said at the time, here in the comments.
Otherwise, watch out for a follow-up event/interview/feature at some point this summer.
Finally, thanks to the filmmakers who we featured last night. If you liked Bradford Watson’s 2x4x96, in particular, here’s more information, including how to contact Bradford himself; and if my description of Thorsten Fleisch’s movie using crystals grown directly on film – or geology turned into cinema – here it is.
Next up: May 22nd, 8-10pm, in the same converted Wind Tunnel in Pasadena, nearly two hours’ worth of short films about architecture, also brought to you by BLDGBLOG and Materials & Applications…
Stay tuned.

7 thoughts on “Science Fiction and the City: Film Fest Recap”

  1. Is there any way that you will post all the images and structures that were presented. Perhaps a slide show w/ narration.

  2. I live in phoenix and would like to attend some of these (and I love the ACCD) but it’s hard to schedule a weekend in LA on short notice; is there a mailing list or calendar somewhere? Thanks!

  3. Chris4d, there’s no mailing list, really, though I have been collecting emails from people at events. I think the best thing to do, for now, though this is really low-tech, is to check back here now and again for event announcements; the film fest, for instance, was announced back in March, with updates scattered on the site here and there.

    There’s a screening of some short films on the 22nd, meanwhile; but there might also be another such event later in the summer.

    Anon, I’d love – truly love – to put all the images from the event in one place, but I think there are some copyright issues involved in a number of cases, where the image rights are actually owned by the film studios and so on. But I’ll see what I can do!

  4. I’m surprised at the suggestion that this stuff isn’t discussed very often.

    Even back in undergrad, everybody talked about Blade Runner, 2001, Fifth Element, Star Wars, etc., in architectural terms. We talked about the designers, too. Almost everybody knew who Syd Mead was, for example, and a lot of people knew the Star Wars designers like John Barry, Ralph Mcquarrie, and Doug Chiang.

    In grad school, the last studio I had was heavily influenced by this stuff, to the point where we were taking screengrabs from movies and analyzing them. Even comparing/contrasting different aesthetics and effects. So it’s all out there floating around.

    Sounds like a great event, I wish I could’ve been there.

  5. I agree that it would be really nice if we could get some audio, video or even a slide show. I’m in Dallas, and can’t make it out there for this, but very interesting nonetheless.

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