Scholars, artists, and community members contribute to exhibition examining the importance of of the Frankenstein story.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is rapidly approaching its 200th anniversary, but its themes continue to resonate in our technological age and spawn new, complex questions about the nature of life, our role as creators, and our responsibilities to the things we bring into the world. Now, Arizona State University Libraries, in partnership with ASU’s Frankenstein Bicentennial Project, will present an interdisciplinary, mixed-media exhibition that grapples with the provocative ideas put forth in Shelley’s novel.
Opening August 31 and on display through December 10, 2016, Frankenstein at 200 examines the conditions of Mary Shelley’s world that led her to pen the original tale, along with similar scientific, technological, and social quandaries of our modern era. Is a social media hashtag a living organism? Should a painting made by a robot be considered a work of art? And what new monsters might we imagine in response to emerging technologies and new scientific discoveries?
“Frankenstein emerged in a moment of great social and technological change,” said Ed Finn, co-director of the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project. “Similarly, today we are all modern Prometheans, afforded the ability to create and transform the world around us. Frankenstein at 200 demonstrates the power of Mary Shelley’s original vision, and contextualizes a centuries-old story for contemporary audiences.”
Just how contemporary audiences understand Frankenstein is also on display in the exhibition. The character and his creature have been adapted to countless books, plays, films, television programs, video games and breakfast cereals, domesticating the horror of the novel into something playful but also reflective of society and our place in it.
“Just as the creature in Frankenstein was assembled from an assortment of materials, so too is our understanding of Frankenstein as a cultural icon – a dizzying array of interpretations patched together by our own hopes, fears, passions and inspiration,” said Bob Beard, the exhibition’s curator. Frankenstein at 200 includes contributions from collaborators across multiple disciplines at ASU – including geology, chemistry, theology and the humanities – and pieces created by members of the local community – but, Beard says, a major goal of the exhibit is to elicit additional insights from attendees. “Frankenstein belongs to all of us. Each new reading or encounter with it breathes new life into the legend, and provides a fresh set of fascinating perspectives and discoveries.”
Featuring striking original art, interactive collection pieces, and compelling reflection questions, Frankenstein at 200 is open now through December 10, 2016 on the entrance level of ASU’s Hayden Library, located at 300 Orange Mall in Tempe, Arizona. Please see the Library’s website for hours and directions.
About the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project
Launched by Drs. David Guston and Ed Finn in 2013, the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project
is a global celebration of the bicentennial of the writing and publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, from 2016-2018. The project uses Frankenstein as a lens to examine the complex relationships between science, technology, ethics, and society. Arizona State University will act as a global hub for a vast array of activities at a wide range of venues, including film festivals, scientific demonstrations, writing and artistic competitions, museum exhibits, scholarly workshops, new books, special issues of magazines and journals, and other cross-platform media experiences. To learn more visit frankenstein.asu.edu and follow @FrankensteinASU on Twitter.