Archive for the ‘CTS Y2- Imagined Worlds’ Category

Utopia and Dystopia

Monday, October 17th, 2016

This week we were been led to exploring Utopia and Dystopia through seven kind of aspects based on lots of reading and discussion activities at class.

Before doing the reading I didn’t think about there were so many debates based on definition about what is utopia. My original idea about utopia is a imagined place where the evil power doesn’t exist, no levels or too much desire, and the social system is completely perfect to make everyone satisfied, so it’s a dreamland for everyone to live in peacefully. I guess my definition of Utopia kind of based on an Classical Chinese we learned in junior school, which the idea and the way of writing of this ideal place really left a strong impression in my memory.

This is a good translate version of this classical  Chinese story I found —-


The Peach Colony (translated by Lin Yutang 林语堂)


During the reign of Taiyuan of Chin, there was a fisherman of Wuling. One day he was walking along a bank. After having gone a certain distance, he suddenly came upon a peach grove which extended along the bank for about a hundred yards. He noticed with surprise that the grove had a magic effect, so singularly free from the usual mingling of brushwood, while the beautifully grassy ground was covered with its rose petals. He went further to explore, and when he came to the end of the grove, he saw a spring which came from a cave in the hill, Having noticed that there seemed to be a weak light in the cave, he tied up his boat and decided to go in and explore. At first the opening was very narrow, barely wide enough for one person to go in. After a dozen steps, it opened into a flood of light. He saw before his eyes a wide, level valley, with houses and fields and farms. There were bamboos and mulberries; farmers were working and dogs and chickens were running about. The dresses of the men and women were like those of the outside world, and the old men and children appeared very happy and contented. They were greatly astonished to see the fisherman and asked him where he had come from. The fisherman told them and was invited to their homes, where wine was served and chicken was killed for dinner to entertain him. The villagers hearing of his coming all came to see him and to talk. They said that their ancestors had come here as refugees to escape from the tyranny of Tsin Shih-huang (builder of Great Wall) some six hundred years ago, and they had never left it. They were thus completely cut off from the world, and asked what was the ruling dynasty now. They had not even heard of the Han Dynasty (two centuries before to two centuries after Christ), not to speak of the Wei (third century A.D.) and the Chin (third and fourth centuries). The fisherman told them, which they heard with great amazement. Many of the other villagers then began to invite him to their homes by turn and feed him dinner and wine.After a few days, he took leave of them and left. The villagers begged him not to tell the people outside about their colony.


The man found his boat and came back, marking with signs the route he had followed. He went to the magistrate’s office and told the magistrate about it. The latter sent someone to go with him and find the place. They looked for the signs but got lost and could never find it again. Liu Tsechi of Nanyang was a great idealist. He heard of this story, and planned to go and find it, but was taken ill and died before he could fulfill his wish. Since then, no one has gone in search of this place.



this is an animation been made based on the story.

The background of this story is really important for understanding it. Since the author was living in an unpeaceful era, and he was really unsatisfied with the dirty, cruel reality. So in this story he connected the ideal and reality together and depicted a place where normal people live free, peacefully and equal to each other, and been once accidental found by an piscator and never can be found ever. The people there all originally escaped from war for centuries ago, and never get in touch with outside world ever.

From the story we can see their is only farming culture exist in this ‘Utopia’ for people lived in East Jin Dynasty. People live with nature peacefully and following the mind of Confucianism. All political thing kind of been weaken.

I didn’t think of this ancient chinese I learned before I started writing review of this lecture I took. At class we were been asked about what’s our utopia demands, and I wrote things like everyone can do their own things properly instead of trying to get something good from others, and live peacefully with less desire I think? although at first I want to write the only demands is no human being, but then this answer become too extreme so I changed it to that.I guess my ideal of utopia was influenced by that classical chinese I learned, only the difference is that’s not a society with only farming culture but with more people focus on their own job like doing cultural change and social change not based on desire of money or power and won’t be controlled by that feeling.

From the reading we do about concepts of utopia and dystopia from Thomas More, we know that utopia is a conflict idea that represent desire of a better world that’s too good to really exist.

When the idea of Utopia as blueprint been introduced, I found this kind of static, fix physical form in purpose to make everyone live equally as it look, which make it looks like a prison as well. Since the terrain was leveled area already, it showed the benefit for some certain level or certain purpose more obviously. City like Dubai, Las Vegas and Pruitt were been mentioned between discussion at class.

contemporary intersections between art/design and utopian practice.

The main theme of 2016 London Design Biennale is about Utopia, and our group chose the design from Saudi Arabia and Shenzhen from the Biennale to identify, and connect with the book <the principle of hope> by Ernst Bloch to find how content, form, and function been intersected in art and design field of utopia practice. The utopia impulse, which could transform the essence of utopia thinking—- the desire to a method for an imaginary reconstructed society. From “what it will be” to “what it could be” is working in the process as method.

When Utopia as Political practice been talked about at class, our group have an interesting conversation started with education system in China to education in German, about how kids and teenager are being educated to be sorry about what their ancestor did and should be humble and at the same time how Chinese teenagers were taught to Love their country and Communism without teaching us to critical thinking the related subjects and societal issues. From german student’s sharing, I know some social issues are not being delivered to teenagers that well in German which cause lots of them start rave movement and being angry about knowing little of it.(but all youth I know from German think their government has highly transparent system, and youth all concern about a lot of social issues, but still..i don’t know all..)

Which I felt there are a lot of issues from nowadays are not been included in our education system, like the recognition of ourselves, our emotion and the highly developing digital world we are living in. Although we learned about a lot of classical chinese as well, but there are still lack of different aspects of Chinese culture. But more importantly, I think the social issues link with society today need to be taught about more, and critical thinking should be taught by different teaching methods as well.


other points at class that’s not so clear or familiar much yet:

-queerness of utopianism

-what these different approaches to utopia(as blueprint, method and practice)have meant for urban design (eg Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh),

art and design (eg Jeremy Deller, Deterritorial Support Group—-analysing their Ten Growth Markets(tendency) for Crisis, the relevance of critical imaginative potential of future action for art and design.)

and politics (egIn discussion around Lucy Sargisson’s work on intentional communities,the kibbutz and Auroville were brought up as examples we could critique.).

 What is a concrete or everyday utopia?

How are critical dystopias actually utopian? 




Deterritorial Support Group (2011) Ten Growth Markets for Crisis, A Trend Forecast

Levitas, R. (2010) Preface to 2nd edition and introduction, in The Concept of Utopia. Oxford: Peter Lang.

Moylan, T (2014) Introduction, in Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction and the Utopian Imagination. Oxford: Peter Lang.

Muñoz, JE (2009) Introduction: Feeling Utopia, in Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, New York: New York University Press, 2009.


Halo, Imagined World and Design Fictions

Monday, October 10th, 2016

CTS-YEAR 2-Term 1: Imagined World and Design Fictions

  • Essence to Learn
  1. Utopia and Dystopia
  2. Design Fiction
  3. Research Methods


Ex 1:  In the Robot’s Skies is a film  explores the drone as a cultural object, not just as a new instrument of visual story telling but also as the catalyst for a new collection of urban sub cultures.” as the director Liam Fox explains.

P.S.Metahaven’s latest film “Information Skies” is a hybrid of live action, animation and graphics and interrogates what we consider as ‘truth’ in the digital world – a question made all the more pe

Metahaven’s Information Skies – a new kind of film for the technosphere?

Ex 2:  Uninvited Guests is a short film that explores the frictions between an elderly man and his smart home. It questions about “how will we live with these uninvited guests, In a world where ’smart objects’ will increasingly be used to provide care at a distance?”

their RESEARCH AND DESIGN APPROACH is worth learning.

“We set out to address some of these questions during our research, focusing on three key thematic areas which we titled ‘The Neural Network’, ‘Objects with Attitude’ and ‘Defiant Behaviours’. For these three areas we developed a series of narratives and scenarios that fell within the useful-critical-deviant spectrum. 

Following this rapid scenario development exercise, the project’s focus quickly moved to connected home within the context of elderly healthcare and remote tracking, as it is touted as one of the most compelling IoT applications. Situated behind this, is the bigger, more political issue around the future of healthcare and the growing argument to replace human care givers with robots and connected, networked, smart devices. Whilst there are undeniable benefits to monitoring and tracking the elderly in their homes, we wanted to pause and reflect on some of the more complex human behaviours we are likely to encounter along the way. What are the messy, whimsical, unintended human behaviours that might collide with the one-size-fits-all ‘care’ that many smart devices are designed to deliver?”

As Le Guin said in World Making(1981, p.48) ,To make a new world you start with an old one’, ‘TO discover something is to make it’,  I regard that as a way to conquer the lost world we are living now. This idea makes me think of the American Dream. People all go to America to build their dreamland and make their dream come true. First is British people conquer the place, then people from all of the world brought their culture and lifestyle to America. That’s when all different culture been remixed together to create a new culture, community and social working system of its own(especially for NewYork City). People bring new meaning to a place, that’s why it was said the existence of a place doesn’t exist until the man is there. I think the imagined American Dream build America today, and that idea is transforming to a utopia version imagined dream about the future of human being since the world is being linked by new technology, Internet and social network more than ever before.

This is the “Object” I chose to represent me in an imagined future exhibition.

It is and it is not a image of the logo of digital JPEG.file

Is it a real object can be interacted with in real life? What’s the

It’s a text(message) that tells about this familiar thing which should only exist as a file logo in digital technology (with a image that don’t know is come from a real photograph of a real place somewhere or a photoshop/3D software product) have further more identity. It is undefinable and have not only one explanation of its existence. The 3rd and 4th picture are trying to depict its existence as a real famous people that trying to avoid been photographed by paparazi. Question about boundary between reality and digital world.

Also image shows a person’s identity.

People based on photos they posed to judge them,(media self promotion), which means if you read my photos you read message of me. And the photos is public also personal.

I think this object kind of show my way of thinking and my identity.

I like Creating paradox puzzle shows different way to look at things and cut into it, using different way to describe a or tell the story, building new way to connect people with the idea or the medium, not directly look at the object itself but consider about what’s around it, using cliche and medium or form but not following cliche.

(Recently, Artist like Snouk Kruithof, Weiyi Li, …inspires me a lot)

Here I have to recommend a article to read—-A thing like you and me  written by Hito Steyerl on e-flux(An new interesting publishing platform I found!) really inspire me.

To participate in an image—rather than merely identify with it—could perhaps abolish this relation. This would mean participating in the material of the image as well as in the desires and forces it accumulates. How about acknowledging that this image is not some ideological misconception, but a thing simultaneously couched in affect and availability, a fetish made of crystals and electricity, animated by our wishes and fears—a perfect embodiment of its own conditions of existence? As such, the image is—to use yet another phrase of Walter Benjamin’s—without expression.6 It doesn’t represent reality. It is a fragment of the real world. It is a thing just like any other—a thing like you and me.

Films related with design thinking of future design about idea of a imagined world and designed fiction.

Westworld Season 1(2016)mv5bmteyodk5ntc2mjneqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mdq5ntgwotkx-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

The one-hour drama series Westworld is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, it explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.


Creative Control (2015)

mv5bmtg4ntuzmdkwov5bml5banbnxkftztgwmduymza5nze-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_In the near feature, an ad executive uses a new reality technology to conduct an affair with his best friend’s girlfriend.







A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need.


パプリカ Paparika (2006)


The story is about a research psychologist who uses a device that permits therapists to help patients by entering their dreams. When a machine that allows therapists to enter their patients’ dreams is stolen, all Hell breaks loose. Only a young female therapist, Paprika, can stop it.



イノセンス Ghost in the Shell (1995-now)


In 2029, the world is interconnected by a vast electronic network that permeates every aspect of life. Much of humanity has access to this network throughcybernetic bodies, or “shells”, which possess their consciousness and can give them superhuman abilities.

Ghost in the Shell follows the hunt by the public-security agency Section 9 for a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master. With the assistance of her team, Motoko Kusanagi tracks and finds their suspect, only to be drawn into a complex sequence of political intrigue and a cover-up as to the identity and goals of the Puppet Master.

The overarching philosophical themes of the film include self-identity in a technologically advanced world.


PSYCHO-PASS サイコパス(2012) (this is the only one I haven’t watched)2e3d5e0f13da8c0eced54b573d883f0a1473358908_full

The story takes place in an authoritarian future dystopia, where omnipresent public sensors continuously scan the Psycho-Pass of every citizen in range. The sensors measure mental state, personality, and the probability that the citizen will commit crimes, alerting authorities when someone exceeds accepted norms. To enforce order, the officers of the Public Safety Bureau carry hand weapons called Dominators. The story follows Akane Tsunemori, Shinya Kogami, and other members of Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division, and the crimes they investigate using Dominators.



A video I found on youtube related with design thinking of future emotional technology–

and top of the comments is this one, which is great to hear actually. 屏幕快照 2016-10-11 上午12.54.45.png

Just like the critical design based film “Uninvited Guests” questioned, do we really want these so called future imagined technology to help us in our life? I think the answer of future design in imagined world really need to deal more carefully with this question.





all movie description and photos comes from IMDB and WIKIPEDIA.