As I consider the potential topics I can approach for my final project for the sonic science fiction seminar, several stand out as clear, substantial choices.
- The portrayal of robots in science fiction films, and the use of audio to imply agency. Different films suggest different degrees of agency, ranging from relatively dehumanized robots in films such as Silent Star to the ultra-human replicants in Blade Runner, also considering the works in between that question how much agency a viewer should grant the robots on screen, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey. As a predominately written piece with video supplements, this would be an extensive analysis into what suggests agency and what detracts from a sense of agency. Alien Phenomenology would likely also be a great resource for this option.
- The emergence of serious science fiction horror. As considered in a previous post, it appears that Alien (1979) marks the first serious science fiction horror film, with numerous others following in the coming decade, such as Scanners, The Thing, and The Fly. What separates these films from the science fiction films that came before? How is “seriousness” and “horror” reflected sonically? Does Franco Berardi’s theory that 1977 marks the turning point of visions of the future from utopia to dystopia factor into the change in tone of these films? Do special effects play a role? This option would be equal portions written investigation and cinema mashup exploring contrasts.
- The differences between science fiction subgenres. How are different subgenres portrayed differently from a sonic perspective? How does hard science fiction differ from soft science fiction, and how do science fiction dramas (such as Solaris) differ from science fiction action (Terminator), science fiction horror (Alien), science fiction fantasy (Star Wars), or science fiction comedy (Mars Attacks). Like option two, this would be equal portions written investigation and cinema mashup.
- Follow the career of one particular actor who frequently works within the science fiction genre (such as William Shatner or Sigourney Weaver) and follow the science fiction films on his or her resume. How does the audio support his or her characters? Does the role he or she takes change during the course of his or her career, and does the audio change with him or her? Like option one, this would be a predominately written piece with video supplements.