Architecture and the spectacle of home in science-fiction film
Fortin, David T.
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The concept of home has often been recognized as a foundational concept in popular science-fiction (SF) as the point of departure or place of return in the space odyssey, timetravel mission, or heroic quest. Most SF narratives evidently centre on notions of homelessness, homecomings, threats to home or journeys from it. However, independent of the film’s narrative, home is also considered within SF as the place of the audience member, spatially and temporally, the distinction of which is critical for establishing the alien encounter with the putative future world. As a critical genre, SF continues to offer insights into the contemporary milieu that have significant implications for all areas of cultural research and, more specifically, architecture. While architectural literature and practice has confirmed a sustained interest in SF, representations of home are often overlooked in favour of the various innovations and special effects on-screen. It is the intention of the research to elevate the discussion of home in SF from its often abstract engagement by architectural texts, and more specifically question how notions of home are expressed in SF film through the various narratives and designed environments. Thus, the research posits the notion of home as providing the essential link between SF and architecture by establishing a theoretical framework and detailed analyses of four films adapted from the prolific American SF author, Philip K. Dick: Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall (1990), Stephen Spielberg’s Minority Report (2002), and Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly (2006). The research examines science, method, and truth, in relation to the foundations of the SF genre and its various representations of home. Furthermore, by comparing and contrasting modern and postmodern approaches to design, similarities are drawn between the cultural mechanisms of SF imagery and architecture. The research draws from SF theorists such as Darko Suvin, Scott Bukatman, and Vivian Sobchack, as well as authors focussed on notions of home such as Witold Rybczynski, Mary Douglas, Juhanni Pallasmaa, and David Morley. Topics related to contemporary identity construction, gender roles, domestic environments, global mobility and connectivity, spectacle, surveillance, tourism, and technology, are scattered throughout the chapters offering a broad survey of the notion of home as represented in contemporary SF with the intent of generating further architectural discussion.