‘Tis the season for outdoor movie screenings: Next week in London, several projections are taking place on a traveling canal barge. Arts organization UP Projects presents Extra-Terrestrial, a monthlong series of movies and events aboard their Floating Cinema. The vessel is scheduled to dock at various locations across London canals, presenting films, talks and workshops that address our relationships with outer space—from space travel, to future worlds, and alien lifeforms.
The Floating Cinema was created in 2013 by Duggan Morris Architects, who were selected as the winners of an open architecture competition. The event space is conceived as “extraordinary cargo” atop a traditional industrial barge, which was built from scratch following a fruitless search for an existing vessel that would fit the architectural specifications. The final product resembles a buoyant light box complete with geometric details, lighting, and signage that references old Art Deco movie theaters. “There’s a real sense of a magical, slow, calm process of this barge vessel arriving,” notes architect Joe Morris in a short film describing the making of the boat.
The project is part of UP’s Portapavilion program, which enables the production of portable venues for public art in London and ties in with the organization’s mission “to challenge perceptions of what public art can be.” Various events are presented aboard the Floating Cinema every year, and this summer’s Extra-Terrestrial series merges entertainment, culture, and science, navigating freely between the factual and the absurd. On the roster: screenings of sci-fi cult classics The Day The Earth Stood Still and Flash Gordon; an open-air premiere of Michael Madsen’s new film The Visit; an artist-led workshop where participants design their own space colonizations with everyday tools; a panel of UFO experts and alien abduction conspiracy theorists; and a close observation session of sundown with an astronomer.