Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Rumination of Utopias

As Ian Macleod one of the speakers during the Thrilling Wonder Stories syposium had pointed out, that in the present context there are no trajectories left of a future that can promise designs of utopia. With strong global authoritarian systems in place it allows very little flexibility to imagine either the utopias of social hierarchy or technological revolutions to purge problems, on the contrary newer innovations in social networking and lab-made glowing mice only encourage an image of a dystopian future. The only way by which science fiction writers are able to circumvent the existing condition is to start with a clean slate, an apocalyptic event with strong gravitational force to bend light and future, one of the indicators being a string of Hollywood movies of floods, doomsday, diseases, meteors and other last-days-of-man-on-earth genre.
I don't know if such an event could trigger a formation of a real community or some sort of collective that is a fundamental backbone of all utopias right from Thomas Moore's Utopia island, William Morris's News from Nowhere to more contemporary Garden City masterplans, but Dutch artist Rob Voerman works around such an assumption.

(Image by Rob Voerman called The Epicentre, which reminds me of the nuclear explosion shot from Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira. Image sourced from Rob Voerman's website)
His website describes: "Some years ago, I started a body of work in which I try to create the architecture of fictive communities living in remote areas or occupying existing city-landscapes. The communities will consist of a mixture of utopia, destruction and beauty, a symbiosis of hippie-communities from the seventies, with their often highly decorated self-build structures, the cabin of the Uni-bomber hidden in the Montana forests, art-deco and other influences.

(untitled 2004, by Rob Voerman has some very good details)
Romanticism combined with the grim qualities of terror. It is often a direct translation of destruction in a purely aesthetic form..."

(sculpture works by Rob Voerman. The sculpture to the left is Annex#4 and was displayed at Bedford Square, London as part of the show at the Architectural Association. Images sourced from Rob Voermans site)
It reminded me of work that I and Kostas had done almost a year back on utopias and imagined communities, as we attempted to put together a Rubik's cube of different utopian ideas.

(the model of the cube done by me and Kostas for our final Masters thesis project titled ABBAU+, that presently lies at my house which soon will be sacrificed to recycling for something new to take its place...)
More photos and description of the project can be found on Kostas's blog here.
While I am on the topic of utopia, I came across:
1) Ananya Roy's lecture video (which also was her acceptance speech for the Golden Apple Award) where she elaborates on utopias.
2) The Self Sufficient City Competition (3rd Advanced Architecture Contest) organized by the IAAC, which sounds like an interesting competition to take part in.
This competition could be a good opportunity for people interested in different ideas of ideal cities and societies to test their schemes, constructing not only the inhabited but also the inhabitant.

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