Speculations

by Joanne McNeil

  • Cutaway views of the Toroidal Colonies. Art by Rick Guidice. Photos courtesy of NASA Ames Research Center. Inside Out Planets: NASA’s Influence on Cinema’s Visions of Outer Space

    In 1975, an interdisciplinary group of engineers, artists, physicists, architects and urban planners convened for 10 weeks at Stanford University and the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. The group assembled to design complete and convincing systems for sustained life in outer space. Fred Scharmen—author of Space Settlements, a new book that considers the cultural impact of the 1975 Summer Study’s proposals—notes the most “influential outcomes” were the trippy paintings made to illustrate these ideas. These paintings, in watercolor, acrylic and gouache, depict bright bubbles of life and majestic rings—appearing like cornucopias in cutaway view—with tranquil landscapes and…  Read more

    On Sep 4, 2019
    By on Sep 4, 2019Columns
  • Homo Economicus Glitches in the Matrix: Adventures in the CGI Wilderness

    “Working with computer graphics, labor becomes so present in your mind because you’re hunched over a computer for such a long time trying to deliver something that looks right,” the artist Alan Warburton told me. What’s “right” tends to be a seamless and effortless look, which means there is a paradox to the trade—all that work, at best, appears as if it never happened at all.  Warburton’s art practice, which mines his commercial work at post-production studios, departs from these objectives. His labor is noticeable, rather than invisible—imperfect and unfinished in projects like his animation series Homo Economicus (2018). That…  Read more

    On Jun 19, 2019
    By on Jun 19, 2019Columns
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Running Man (courtesy of Olive Films) When 2019 Was the Future

    The artist David Levine once staged reenactments of memorable film scenes at their original locations in Central Park. A performer ran laps around the reservoir in a nod to the opening of Marathon Man, while stand-ins for Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis acted out the Cracker Jack scene in The Out-of-Towners by the Trefoil Arch. Scenes from The Royal Tenenbaums, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm and Portrait of Jennie, among others, were underway elsewhere in the park. The performances were unmarked, and some were more discernibly theatrical than others. Period clothes or the spectacle of a confrontation played and replayed in intervals could tip…  Read more

    On Mar 14, 2019
    By on Mar 14, 2019Columns
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