From Stella Rosa McDonald…
Like its namesake, The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of considers the connections between science fiction and the real world, with a suite of invited artists making works in response to science fiction texts at the urging of curator artist Jonathon McBurnie. As science fiction chews up the past and spits out the future, we see new realities being made from old fictions: the horrific amputation scene in Frank Herbert’s novel Dune is retold weekly by ISIS. The conflict between humankind and an extraterrestrial race that plays out in H.G Wells’ The War of the Worlds, is rehearsed daily in the millions of forced migrations across the world. Travel, communication and technology are foretold and then realised again and again in the history of science fiction and The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of allows viewers to read that narrative in parallel with reality.
Though they draw directly on its key themes, authors and protagonists, the myriad works in the exhibition need not be understood solely in the context of science fiction, though some works out-perform their context more than others. Biljana Jancic’s The Visitor (2015), in which she re-visits the PVC piping structures common to her work, suggests an encroaching horror. Made in response to Wells’ Worlds, Jancic’s installation acts as a prop in a cautionary tale. Anna McMahon’s Polaroid photograph of a partial eclipse taken from the runway of an unidentified airport is posited as a response to Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, “a beautiful movie about the end of the world”. Sorrow (a partial solar eclipse captured on 23/10/2014 at 7.30 from the window of seat 15A on flight number JQ810) (2014) uses the language of Polaroid film to reflect on our fear of natural phenomena, a common science fiction trope. Often used in film for the purposes of maintaining continuity, McMahon uses the unreliable archive of the Polaroid to capture a rupture in the order of the universe. Videos by and Lena Obergfell and Andrew Frost use the loop to articulate notions of time and travel as explored in The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy and Destination Moon respectively. While Adam Norton’s title painting Time Machine (2014), from his growing painted library of mock titles and posters, performs the duty of a headline for an exhibition that tells of the proximity between truth and fiction.
Until 14 November
Verge Gallery, Darlington
Pic: Hayley Megan French, Warmum (To Create More Worlds), 2015. Digital prints mounted on aluminium. In response to the book series, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.