Dismissed by high culture since its birth in the 19th century, science fiction is an anomaly. Its appeal seems either to be universal or minutely specific. Everyone loves Frankenstein, but not very many people get Neon Genesis: Evangelion. This range of appeal is reflected in the Barbican’s Into The Unknown, which features everything from worldwide hits like Star Wars to pieces from outsider artists like Royal Robertson. Which brings us to the exhibition hall.
I’m standing in a cabinet of curiosities that’s been put through a sci-fi filter. Film props are presented like artefacts. Everywhere there are storyboards, paintings, books, all stacked and jostling for room. This is a dark space with shafts of light and videos playing on screens above my head, such that ghostly holograms appear in all the photos (unusable) that I’m trying to take for this piece. There is a much younger boy, who used to read Spiderman comics behind his French textbooks, rising within me. He’s looking at another boy, here, scrawny and too young to have acne but too old to be pressing his nose against a display case, staring at the sheen of Darth Vader’s helmet. I pass by Anuboid headdresses from Stargate, registering fingerprint smudges and condensation from the devotee’s happy breathing on the glass. Honestly, I would if I could. No matter how poorly executed a particular film franchise, perhaps I will always be incapable of not finding something like an alien fleet emerging through a wormhole above New York City ridiculously cool.