Posts Tagged With: dystopia

So What is Science Fiction? Themes and contexts part 1

Science fiction or science fact? For me it’s a case of science fact to come… It’s a speculative future based around what is already known, what is being discovered and possibly what  could be if  humans continue with over consumption or certain kinds of technological advancement.

According to KING & KRZYWINSKA science fiction can be broken up into different themes. I will look at each of these in turn over the next week or two:-

Human versus science (technology)

Dystopian versus Utopia

Travelling in space and through time

Gender and sex

Images of the scientist: from nerd to madmen

Others: Aliens, Cyborgs and Artificial Intelligences

Horror

post modern

“Spectacle and speculation sum up two key dimensions of the genre. In imaginatively figuring the future(or an alternative past or present) science fiction films can be seen to some extent as measures of the hopes and fears of the cultures in which the films are produced and consumed”(KING, G., KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000)

I think that this statement does go some way to explain what the genre is and  the reasons behind the popularity of science fiction as a whole.

It is educating and allowing us to test our fears, push them to the limits. Science fiction is about the good and bad in society and my project  sub genre of the dystopian and post apocalyptic story  takes the audience or reader into the realms of terror, albeit as a result of man  or as an act of God ( meteors, earthquakes, viruses).

“Many science fiction films can be read as explorations of the fate of humanity in a world often depicted as increasingly dominated by the products of science, technology and rationality.” (KING, G.,KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000)

A brief description of the themes:-

Human versus science (technology)

Within this theme we see films that show the central character as a human, usually fighting against or having to deal with technological advancements, good or bad including aliens, cyborgs, artificial intelligence etc.. They often use the fear of technology as storyline and show the potential or fate of humanity. These stories usually show human emotion and intuition as obsolete and the rational thought of science as the dominant  force.

Dystopian versus Utopian

Two complete opposite worlds. Utopia is shown as perfect untroubled worlds in which there is no crime or disease. Science is seen as the saviour of mankind. These worlds are idealistic but are often  soulless and less human. In Utopia, the scientist is heroic and a visionary. But, there is a tendency to use the utopian film to show that perfect usually means oppression.

“Science is supposed to offer a means of challenging ancient superstitions, beliefs and prejudices, providing a more rational way of understanding and behaving” (KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000. p 13)

But this approach to science removes the human and is a form of oppression. This leads to dystopia.

logans

Image above from Logan’s Run (1976) picture courtesy of MGM available at http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3395655680/tt0074812?ref_=ttmi_mi_all_sf_3

A perfect example of utopian becoming dystopian, an idealistic life with one draw back–that life has to end at the age of  30.

Dystopian worlds are utopian worlds that have failed. In these films science and the scientist are seen as evil. Technology is a threat to  humanity which in turn puts the human and human emotions back in the centre of the story. This is probably one reason why Dystopia is more dominant in cinema as the characters are more believable and easy to relate to. It also provides the emotion needed for good story telling.

“Any kind of realised utopia might be rather tedious., lacking the tension and conflict often basic to narrative” (KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000. p 16)

Both the themes of human versus science and dystopia versus utopia can overlap, as the central driving force of science and the control/advancement of technology are present. Films like The Matrix (1999)  fall into both themes as humans are used as energy to power a race of machines.

the-matrix

Image sourced from http://www.repugnant-conclusion.com/the-matrix.html courtesy  of Warner Bros

References:-

KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000. Science Fiction Cinema: From Outerspace to Cyberspace. London: Wallflower press

http://www.repugnant-conclusion.com/the-matrix.html [sourced on 21/01/14]

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3395655680/tt0074812?ref_=ttmi_mi_all_sf_3 [sourced on 21/01/14]

Advertisement
Categories: Dystopian and post-apocalyptic philosophy, General research, Science fiction research | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dystopian Literature, Film and Culture 1

I thought this picture was a good example of how dystopian fiction has developed over the last century. It shows the most popular books to date and how they reflect the cultural climate of the time that they were written. There has been a recent increase of book to film releases particularly in the Young Adult category with The Hunger Games and Divergent (to be released in 2014). Both these books and films show that there is still an interest/anxiety in fear of the state, government control, manipulation –subjects that may appeal to teens.

The teenager is at a stage of their lives where they are learning about themselves, understanding the world around them and forming relationships; who to trust and who in the adult world, if anyone, is an ally. Is the popularity of these stories a result of society, development of an understanding of what is going on politically/environmentally or is it just a result of a more disposable income for the teen reader/audience? Perhaps it is a combination of all of these.

Reference:- http://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/351-the-dystopian-timeline-to-the-hunger-games-infographic [sourced on 28/12/2013]

dyst

Categories: Dystopian and post-apocalyptic philosophy, Lectures and contextual studies | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Contexts: Where to go from here

I’ve been giving my project some thought in regards to context and have come up with a list of potential avenues of research.

The question:- Given the post production techniques available today, what is required from the Production Designer at the pre-production stage in terms of scenic design?

Initially I can break this down into a list:-

Post-production techniques

Production Design/Designers

Pre-production

Scenic design

Each one gives me a vast amount of potential research. I have started to look at the role of the Production designer and art department, seeing where it fits in to the production as a whole. I am also looking at the Pre-production stage.  As my chosen genre is Sci-Fi- the post-apocalyptic/dystopian film/TV production, I will mainly concentrate my scenic design and Production Designer research within these parameters.

 

The genre choice also gives me a wide base of potential research:-

Science fiction in film and contemporary culture.

The role of Production Designer within Science Fiction/changing role?

The culture of Post Apocalypse/Dystopia in modern culture.

Scenic design in Science Fiction.

Post-production techniques in relation to pre-production.

Does Science Fiction differ from other genres in regards to design, pre/post production, the designers, knowledge etc.

Practical:-

Visual research for Science Fiction/the chosen novel (this will form the basis for my practical development in stage 2)

 

I also wrote down a few thoughts when I attended the past MA students lecture that relate to the above and my learning agreement.

-Do culture and politics impact on the books and films that are being produced…and why?

-What do Production Designers think in regards to above(this may become part of my case studies)

-Audiences/readers in regards to science fiction/dystopia/post-apocalyptic books, films, TV. What do they think? (a possible case study/survey/poll. This might be useful for the production designer when dealing with budgets/metaphors/pre-production techniques.

-Determine if there is scope for change within Production Design. The future of the film industry with Sci-fi in mind.

-Can we promote a more holistic approach in the design process, from pre-post production?

 

With this in mind, the contexts for research are as follows:-

Technology:- skills, techniques for sci-fi in a changing world.

Culture/philosophical/social/political:- an overlap of background research into dystopia/post apocalyptic ideas and how it relates to society and film.

Economic:- this relates to technology in regards to the changing film industry/design roles/budgets. Producers?

Audience:- aesthetic issues when turning books into films/how the designer uses visual metaphors/symbolism in design. The designer has to portray the directors vision while keeping audience in mind.

Categories: General research | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carcass: Mind-mapping and ideas from the sketchbook

sketchbook carcass 3

During the initial stages of mind-mapping I looked at various thoughts and meanings surrounding the idea of the human V technology, dystopia V utopia, what is human?…etc. Looking at images from books that I own as well as reading a chapter of Science Fiction Cinema: from outerspace to cyberspace (KING, G., KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000.) from which the mind-map above was created. The images are from the book History of the Future (LORIE, P., MURRAY-CLARK, S, 1989.) top left, a painting by Enrico Prampolini- Extraterrestrial Spirituality (1932) a Futurism artist, top right and an organic wall painting in Valencia from my own photo collection.

This is to show where my thoughts were taking me on the first read through: images of the future that are often in confliction.

Categories: projects | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Carcass:-Beginnings of a scenic design project

This last week we were given our first DFTE scenic design project in which we read the script Carcass by Julius Ayodeji, break it down, design sets and concepts etc. then present our designs to the rest of the group. It’s a fairly big project to do in 4 weeks but it’s probably realistic in terms of what is expected in the industry.

First stage:- Reading the script several times; first sweep was to get a gist of the story as a whole and to break down into scenes/sets-external/internal-night/day, second sweep was to get insight into the themes, feelings and mind-set of the characters which will help focus my visual/contextual research for the coming week ahead. This stage was also for jotting down the props/furniture and some key ideas that came to me as I read. This will need to be written out in a way that is expected by the industry so I will check out this week exactly how to present the information. But, for now it’s in a rough format–just enough to allow me to move to the next stage as quickly as possible

Second stage:- Main research stage in which I gather visual and contextual research and start applying it to the script; I have started collecting images from the internet on my Pinterest page plus internet links to refer to. I also ordered some books from the library on dystopia and gender for inspiration. At the moment I’m focusing on the themes/inspirations of metamorphosis, transformation, gender, futurism art, architecture and dystopia which will give me plenty to fill my sketch/scrap-book. I see this stage taking up a fair bit of this week which means that I will have 2 and half weeks to do the designs/concepts/storyboards and model–a tight schedule–but necessary. This is the all important point in which the ideas start to form and it will allow stage 3:-design/concepts to flow more smoothly. This week will also be when I look up all the stages of film design that I’m less familiar with, such as storyboarding, soundstages, concept ratios and I will brush up on my technical drawing knowledge.

Categories: projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.