Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Exhibition: Alien Encounters (2006)

Curated by myself, Brooks Peck, Jane Frank, and Howard Frank. Installed at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. September 10, 2006 - August 10, 2007.

This exhibition showcased commercial book and pulp cover artwork from the sf and fantasy genres from the last 70 years. Almost all of the paintings were on loan from the collection of Jane and Howard Frank, who are one of the preeminent collectors of sf/f artwork in the world.

We were working with a set room configuration, and not a whole lot of space. We worked with the Franks to determine rough thematic sections. Brooks and I worked on the layout. Brooks came up with the idea for interactive pulp magazine "flipbooks" and displaying some of the book covers as well, to emphasize the idea that all this art was used for book and magazine covers, and thus had to have blank spaces in the paintings for that advertising text.

I developed the look and feel of the exhibition, designed all exhibition panels and citations, shepherded all of that through production, and installed all graphics. My goal was to keep the color scheme of the exhibition very monotone - shades of grey, specifically, with an accent color (a reddish-orange) - in order to allow the paintings, with all their vibrant colors, to speak for themselves. The citations were printed on a flatbed printer directly onto a light grey 1/8" sintra, which was then adhered directly to the walls.

The wall murals were assembled by myself using iconic found imagery from various classic sf illustrators and movie posters. I made black positives of the images on transparencies and projected the images onto the walls. The silhouettes were then traced in pencil and painted in a darker grey paint. On certain walls I didn't have room to project the images large enough, so new transparencies were made where I spread the images into sections over several transparencies, which were then projected one at a time and "stitched" together over the wall. Time-consuming work, but, beyond staff time, a low-cost, effective, but not disruptive wall design.

Example (below) of citation layout. On several citations throughout the exhibition, we incorporated quotes from the source texts that illustrated the subjects of the cover art. I wanted to combined left and right justification of different type elements to give it a very geometric, clean, and hierarchical look.

All of the citations and text panels were printed from the same sheet of 1/8 inch grey sintra, and then cut from there to the indicated crop lines. This was printed on a flatbed printer, so it was just one pass to print all of the exhibition graphics. It creates a nice screenprinted effect on the substrate, with a tiny bit of texture from the ink, which is nice. And has the added benefit of being relatively cheap to produce.