Science fiction films, especially lower-budget ones, only have a few tools at their disposal to sell the otherworldliness of their future fictions. One is the matte painting, which establishes the exotic setting. Another is costuming, letting the viewer know these are not today’s people and customs. And the rest relies on set dressing, the most prominent of which is the sci-fi corridor. Great for establishing the rhythms of the world–or running through in a moment of high-stakes tension–the corridor is one of the simplest pieces of visual shorthand production designers can use in these films. What’s interesting about the Sci Fi Corridor Archive, a project that Serafín Álvarez has been working on since 2012, is not the diversity of these settings, but how many standard looks get recycled depending on the needs of a particular film. For starters, there’s the functional “future NASA” look of 2001: A Space Odyssey:
Next, there’s the “gritty industrial” look, good for both blue-collar space horror like Alien and down-on-their-luck dystopias alike:
Finally, there’s “space Baroque,” the likes of which can be seen in films from Dune to Jupiter Ascending.
There are others, too, from the sleek, comfortable corridors of various iterations of the starship Enterprise to the “belly of a whale” alien bio-ship, not to mention the occasional wacky outlier like Tron. But at the end of pre-production, there are only so many ways to build a hallway; as long as it’s alien enough, it works.