Professor seeks the facts behind 1950s science fiction

SOME may view science fiction as mere child’s play, but there’s a deeper meaning to all the weird and wonderful designs on display at Warrnambool Art Gallery’s popular Invasion exhibition.

Even quantum physicists have been among the thousands of visitors to the gallery’s showcase of famous movie props and models. 

This Saturday evening Deakin University associate professor in media and communications Sean Redmond will agitate the brainwaves with some thoughtful discussion about the relevance of science fiction.

Associate professor Redmond knows more than most about the many perils which confronted the human race in 1950s’ alien flicks and will share his expertise with an interactive public talk.

Invaders at the Door: Science Fiction Film Invasion Narratives of the 1950s will explore a collection of 1950s sci-fi films where diabolical aliens have landed on Earth to take it over, annihilate us, or turn humankind into unthinking, non-feeling clones.

“These films are full of catastrophe, conspiracy, and foreboding,” associate professor Redmond said.

“Placed within the context of the Cold War, nuclear capability and a change in working and domestic life, these invasion narrative films can be read as addressing the concerns and fears of America in the 1950s.”

Films to be discussed and illustrated include War of the Worlds, Gojira, Invaders from Mars! and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Associate Professor Redmond has expanded his passion for the genre into writing book chapters and journal articles on science fiction film and television. He is presently completing the book, Liquid Space: Digital Age Science Fiction for I.B. Taurus.

“I have had a lifelong love of science fiction and television. My first toy was a robot; my favourite film is Blade Runner. I think that I might be a replicant too,” he joked.

The address and a classic science-fiction movie will be held in the university’s new CBD offices near the gallery, free of charge, starting at 7pm.

Gallery curator Gareth Colliton said there were many real-world implications in science fiction, including technology and metaphors.

“For example, in Star Trek they carried communicators in their pockets — today we’ve all got access to communicators with smartphones,” he said.

“There are also ideas of colonialism with aliens coming down to take over Earth.

“Response to the exhibition has exceeded our expectations. This month there has been an average of 250 people a day with visitors including scientists, European tourists and sci-fi buffs who have been several times.

“I’ve even seen teenage boys hugging for joy after seeing the exhibits. I guess it’s the celebrity notion of it all.

“Overall, our decision to bring the exhibition in from the UK is on track to pay for itself. We’ll try to build on the theme and hold more family-friendly exhibitions.”

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