The 62nd World Science Fiction Convention

  • Sept. 2-6, 2004
  • Boston, MA

Program Brainstorming Introduction

  • This weblog is a place where you can give us your suggestions for Noreascon 4 programming. What great new ideas do you have and what things have you seen at other conventions that you'd like us to "steal"? (Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.) To make a suggestion, please add a comment under the appropriate heading. Feel free to write a short description of the topic and even suggest appropriate program participants for it. If there's a lot of interest in a particular topic, we'll add a new heading for it.

    Please note: This is not the place to volunteer to be on Program. If you are interested in being on the Program, please see our Program Participant Selection FAQ.

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September 24, 2003


This is where you can give us suggestions for program ideas relating to science fiction art.

September 24, 2003 | Permalink


To: Noreascon Art Programming
From: Sandra Lira
Re: Art (Sculpture) Programming

Hi Everyone,

Heidi Hooper and I have had a "Blindfolded Sculpting" demo
at the last two Lunacons. This year another sculptor, Susan Finley, joined us. Jael and Andrea Senchy graciously served as our "Guest Sculptors". It's really silly and a lot of fun, with a lot of audience participation. The sculptures are then auctioned and proceeds go to a charity.

We'd love to do that at Noreascon, but would also REALLY like to do a Food Sculpting demo. We first thought of little chocolate or marzipan dragons wrapped around big strawberries, etc. But I would really love to make a Loch Ness monster, sculpted out of cream cheese applied over bagels halves and maybe even a big troll out of liverwurst (or some other repulsive, yet edible substance...SPAM?! ). Heidi and Susan have some great ideas for other food sculptures. We thought we could feed the Art Show staff after, to show our appreciation for all they do, or raffle off tickets, proceeds to a charity, and have the winners have tea with the artists.

Sculpting tools will be plastic knives and sporks. We will be glamorouly attired in vinyl gloves, hairnets and lab coats, of course :) Maybe even safety goggles...

Let me know what you think!


Posted by: Sandra Lira | April 19, 2004 07:23 PM

I've done some restoration work on antique carousels over the years, and artist Mike Conrad does design work for theme parks among other things. Fantasy, horror and sci. fi. elements have always played a large role in fairground and amusement park art. If there would be interest, we could do a panel on genre influences on the amusement industry both past and present, from Victorian carousel dragons and Coney Island "Aeroplane Trip to Mars" rides to contemporary park design.


Posted by: Theresa Mather | March 23, 2004 03:37 PM

An entire panel could be done on the art of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Paul Kidby does a wonderful presentation, and is coming out with a book entitled ‘The Art of Discworld’ someday (I’ve had it pre-ordered for a year). But the panel should also cover the work of Josh Kirby, who did the artwork for all the Discworld book covers until his death two years ago. There is also a lot of wonderful artwork to be found by various artists in the Discworld calendars. (A panel like this should obviously include a slide show, which unfortunately I don’t have the resources or expertise to create.)

Posted by: Becky Thomson | February 11, 2004 01:13 AM


There’s "SF Art," which would be perceived by most of the art world as "illustration" based on endlessly recycled, albeit skillfully done, stereotypical SF/fantasy representational images. Then there’s what might be called the use of the same kind of images – aliens, UFOs, future cities, fantasy figures – in whatever you want to define as art world "art" – works that, at best, are multilayered in meaning, not always portraiture, not something understandable at a glance or, in elitist terms, simply stuff acceptable to galleries and museums.

So what are artists of this sort doing with SF? What significance as symbols or myth do SF tropes have for artists? How have the look of SF/fantasy movies influenced art? Is appropriation of SF imagery no different from the appropriation of everything else – comic books, advertising, celebrities – common in post-modern art? Who in the art world is doing this? A slide show is the obvious format for this topic.

Possible resources include people at NY galleries that have shown "gallery approved SF art" – Derek Eller Gallery (, particularly for the work of Jovi Shnell (; and Gorney Bravin & Lee ( which features a show through March 6, 04, called "Future Noir" ( The latter is described as follows: "The group exhibition, Future Noir explores a vein of science fiction that is expressed in the films Tron and Blade Runner. The exhibition includes gouaches by the legendary concept designer Syd Mead responsible for both of these landmark films. It is no exaggeration to say that Mead is largely responsible for visualizing crucial aspects of the look and feel of contemporary science fiction." The NY Times, by the way, trashed most of the show – in the end, it still takes talent to appropriate SF imagery.

Posted by: Dennis Livingston | January 27, 2004 06:29 PM


This is a very broad subject that could easily be a sub-track of its own. "Outsider art" goes by a variety of other names, including "art brut," "visionary art," "self-taught art" and the like, including a big overlap with "folk art." By whatever name, the core concept is art produced by people who are in some sense working "outside" the boundaries and conventions of the mainstream art world, whether in terms of education, mental disabilities or geographic isolation. The result is art that, at its best, is at once innocent of art world expectations, profound and often distrubing.

Why is this of any interest to an SF con? For one thing, the kind of person who makes "outsider" art is often, in some sense, isolated, eccentric, geeky, mentally off balance – in short, your average SF fan. Just kidding, sort of. More important is the content of such art – frequently filled with deliriously visionary portraits, visually and textually, of other worlds, alternative futures and different planes of existence, visits by aliens and angels, channeled words of wisdom, utopian cities, etc.

I have in mind at least an overview slide talk by an expert in the field (not me), which could well be accompanied by more specific slide presentations on the two ur-figures in the field: Adolf Wolfli, an early 20th century Swiss mental patient whose work is filled to the brim with amazingly beautiful, dense, explosive visions (including musicical notation) that filled his every moment and Henry Darger, an American who lived most of his life in his Chicago apartment collaging an equally immense oeuvre dealing with apocolyptic battles involving little girls and … oh well, you just have to see it. I mean these guys make Philip Dick or your most "interstitial" writer look like, I don’t know, an accountant.

In Boston, at least one gallery specializes in this work – Berenberg Gallery (, operated by Lorri Berenberg; in NY, leading places are KS Art (Kerry Schuss, director) and American Primitive ( There may be academic experts in this area as well who might be more inclined to give a talk at a con. It would be wonderful to have a section of the con art show devoted to gallery loans, but probably impossible to arrange or insure. (Still, the art room group might look into this.)

Posted by: Dennis Livingston | January 27, 2004 06:28 PM

set of items dealing with tools, levels of sophistication, and setup for:

1. Digital Static 2D Art Studio [that is, stuff like PhotoShop, Paint Shop Pro, Painter, etc., for doing 2-d artwork

2. Digital Static 3D Art Studio (generating pictures that use models that are 3D in the computer, perhaps also using computer for generation 3D artwork -- there are some systems which do that directly

3. Digital Video/Animation Art Studio (animation, videographics -- where the output is moving picture imagery.)

4. Digital Audio Studio (music -- crossover with filk, but there are differences between composition systems and performance systems...)

5. Multimedia Studio System (production of mix of any or all of graphics, animation, text, audio, etc., onto CD, DVD, or output into other formats, especially output to multiple formats, say a print version, a Web presentation, a CD/DVD, and a [sigh] PowerPoint presentation.

6. Interactive Digital Studio (mixing media for taking existing art and performance, and/or creating live interactive presentations)

Posted by: Paula Lieberman | January 27, 2004 03:35 AM

FYI, I have just sent in a programming suggestion for "Dying for your Art - the health effects of art supplies" via email. Hiedi Hooper, who has frighteningly personal experience with the effects of metals, Ted Atwood, a former designer of environmental monitoring equipment, and myself, a former environmental consultant and industrial hygienist of 15 years, all have an interest in being on this panel and would comprise a solid core, should it be accepted.

Posted by: D. Cameron Calkins | January 20, 2004 01:23 PM

ADDENDUM: Or, the design could be the open square of flat art nearer the walls, with the 3d and jewelry in the middle or as a single aisle in the middle - put the chairs next to the wall. Second thoughts reminded me that putting the 3D in the center garners it more attention.

Posted by: Charlotte Konrad | January 7, 2004 02:43 AM

Limit the number of aisles. One big open square design would be best. Art on exterior and interior square walls. All 3d and jewelry display could be arranged around the square, next to the walls.

Then some chairs or benches could be placed in the middle of the square - for the weary to rest and admire... Sort of like a "real art gallery."

Posted by: Charlotte Konrad | January 7, 2004 02:32 AM

Cel Shading has made an impact on the video game front lately with Zelda. Is this the wave of the future in video game graphics?

Posted by: Bill Todd | November 7, 2003 07:00 PM

[crossover between anime and art] Cel vs Computer Graphics: animated film from North Amercia tends to use computers, anime from the East Asia mosly continues using hand-drawn cel animation and little use of computers. Why the difference, what differences does it make to the animation team, and what differences does it make in the look and feel of the results? And what about the market for cel animation stills?

Posted by: Paula Lieberman | November 6, 2003 08:41 PM

I like the idea of artists actually painting while people watch - Bob Eggleton did this a few years ago (Chicon, I think), and ten seconds of watching him taught me an incredible amount about painting. I like the idea esp. of drawing/painting dragons, with an emphasis on anatomy. What I don't particularly care for is the Iron Artist thing, because getting up there and doing art is hard enough - but having to compete, with a special ingredient and everything, OMG, THAT would be a tough!

In any case, yeah, I'd love to be in on a live painting demo.

Posted by: FrankWu | October 7, 2003 03:35 PM

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