Blade Runner@40

6th - 7th June 2022

Blade Runner has left an indelible mark on popular culture. Adapted from Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It anticipated with remarkable prescience the world in which we have lived for the past four decades. Scott’s breath-taking vision of a futuristic and cosmopolitan metropolis created an aesthetic and cognitive shock that continues to resonate to this day, not only in cinema but also in literature, art, design, gaming, fashion and even critical theory.

The film is often cited in debates related to robotics, biopolitics, posthumanism and urban planning. Denis Villeneuve's sequel, Blade Runner 2049, continues to explore these themes while introducing issues related to artificial intelligence, transhumanism and climate change. Ridley Scott himself does the same in other films, such as Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, as well as in the series Raised by Wolves.

Blade Runner is often credited with having spawned several aesthetic trends, such as retrofuturism, techno-noir or future-noir, and most significantly, cyberpunk. The latter has become a global cultural phenomenon that Fredric Jameson describes as “the expression, if not of postmodernism, then of late capitalism itself.”

In terms of style, cyberpunk à la Blade Runner continues to be very popular in all media. But, in terms of spirit, the real heirs to cyberpunk are to be found in the work of artists, writers, and thinkers around the world who blend creativity with critical theory; who subvert cutting-edge technologies toward non-consumerist ends; and who pioneer new lines of flight into the future, refusing to be trapped by stagnant or predefined categories of identity.

Hosted by the Centre for Film, Television and Screen Studies at Bangor University, this conference will bring together scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to explore Blade Runner forty years since its release, debate its legacy and consider its position within visual culture.

We are delighted that one of Blade Runner's original producers, Ivor Powell, will join us for a discussion in person during the conference following an anniversary screening of the film. Writer and producer Ivor Powell worked for nearly three years as an assistant for Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey and line produced for Ridley Scott on The Duellists and Alien as well as many other projects since. There will also be a keynote lecture by Dr. Sherryl Vint (UC Riverside) an acknowledged expert on science fiction in general and Blade Runner in particular.

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