The Sci-fi fan has been unfairly maligned. Whether it’s the image of the costumed Trekkie or the Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy, the fan is consistently portrayed as one who lives life vicariously through narratives created by others. The relationships between fans and the objects of their fandom, however, are far more nuanced. The notion of the “birth of the reader” is certainly not new in cultural studies, but in the realm of the sci-fi fan this birth takes a particularly active and increasingly participatory form.
Keith Langergraber’s The Society of Temporal Investigations examines fan culture through multiple practices. A series of Langergraber’s own drawings based on the television show Battlestar Galactica conflate geographic with fictive space. The narrative of Battlestar Galactica followed a fleet of star ships on an epic quest through galaxies, dimensions and time. Langergraber equates this search with the common fan practice of mapping fictional locales over real geographic sites. A collection of readymade zines and other found and hand drawn imagery are also integrated to develop the themes of resistance, environmental degradation and corporate and government domination that run through the genre.
By repeating the image of the spiral (an icon that has special significance in science fiction) Langergraber connects to another important influence on his artistic practice—the work of Robert Smithson. In his brief essay The Shape of the Future and Memory (1966), Smithson explored connections between art and time travel—a few years later Spiral Jetty appeared in the Great Salt Lake of Utah. Langergraber further exploits the relationship between fan culture, time travel and the Spiral Jetty in his own fan film, The Theatre of the Exploding Sun. It follows his alter ego Eton Corrasable on a quest through space and time.
By equating Battlestar Galactica, Spiral Jetty, fan fiction, model building and mapping, Langergraber complicates assumptions about the fan across disciplines. While obsession, influence, reverence and re-creation are all accepted norms within the art world and other critical forms of academic discourse, the fan is lampooned for their manner of homage. New theories of fandom, like those articulated in The Society of Temporal Investigations, open the doors to a range of possibilities for consumption, production, criticality and play.
Keith Langergraber received his BFA from the University of Victoria and his MFA from the University of British Columbia. He has exhibited extensively in solo and group shows in galleries in Canada, the United States and Asia and has received numerous grants and awards for his work. Keith is a teacher at Emily Carr University and Thompson Rivers University and in 2005 he was selected to represent Emily Carr at the Canadian Art Colleges Collaborative Banff Residency, Media and Visual Arts.