Photo by Marsha Bradfield

Utopographies: Evaluation, Consensus and Location

Utopographies: Evaluation, Consensus and Location -25th to 29th March 2014- pools the energies and interests of Dan Smith, Critical Practice Research Cluster (a cluster of individual artists, researchers, academics and others aimed at supporting critical practice within art, the field of culture and organization), architect Amy Butt and other utopographers and interested publics. Marsha Bradfield, CCW Post Doctoral Research Fellow in Critical Practice, says this about the event:

The project grows out of a workshop held at Baltic 39 in September 2013 and will progress through four phases. In keeping with the spirit of Utopography, these will explore the projection and criticism of ideal societies, the interactions of space and temporal narratives, the creation of social dreams and the reality of working within and through the present. This project also furthers Critical Practice's ongoing research into value and evaluation as dynamic processes for making sense of our increasingly complex world(s). Critical Practice is fascinated by utopographic methods and eager to understand how they may advance the embedded, specific and localised characteristics that distinguishes the cluster's practice-based research.

Phase One: Facilitated by Amy Butt and Charlotte Knox-Williams, two participatory workshops offered space to play with ideas surrounding utopography while linking this with Critical Practice's ongoing research into evaluation and the cluster's self-organised ways of working. We unwrapped surprises and made models en route to envisioning our collaborative utopographic experience. We talked about combining analogue and digital, making networks manifest through a massive hammock-like roof and weaving together our disparate desires and sensibilities in heretofore unimagined forms of collaborative macram .

Phase Two: International utopographers from Paris, New York and elsewhere joined with Dan, Critical Practice and other Chelsea locals to create a network-like roof across the Triangle Space by tying cords between batons secured to the walls. We discovered through practice that looping the cords in a particular way makes the shonky mesh more robust. We also ‘raised the roof’ by tying key threads to pillars and radiating them outwards like a maypole. There was disagreement about where to focus our energies. While some enjoyed ornamenting the network, others were committed to extending it. Will ornament be a crime in the utopia we’re building? Consensus on this remains forthcoming. 'Threaders' came and went over the three days; it was surprisingly tiring and tough work but also deeply satisfying.

Phase Three: Fitted with a networked roof designed to support the program through being reconfigured in response to specific events (suspended artefacts, sectioning the space, etc) the Triangle will host an experimental program: performances, radical screenings, no-holds-barred debates, games, audio environments, swarms and tournaments of evaluation. This phase is open to the public and everyone is welcome. Join us for an immersive and emergent experience. Up-to-the-minute details can be found on the Critical Practice wiki.

Participants include: Jill Belli (City University of New York), Francis Brady (Chelsea Alumni), Amy Butt (BPR Architects), Nathaniel Coleman (Newcastle University), Contemporary Land Theatre (Featuring Stephanie Dickinson and Michael Tyack), Critical Practice (Chelsea), Ruth Desseault (Emory University), Karel Doing (, Eddie Dorrian, Future Records, The Gluts, Hayley Jukes (Chelsea), Charlotte Knox-Williams, Mathilda Oosthuizen (Chelsea Alumni), Blanca Regina (, Prof. Kazue Kobata, Adoka Niitsu, Dan Smith (Chelsea), Adam Stock (Newcastle University), Sissu Tarka and others to be confirmed.

Phase Four: We will generate a publication that knits together new knowledge spun through our collaborative work and play. Funded by the Graduate School, and provisionally edited by Dan Smith, this publication will bring together reflections from all those involved. Titled Utopographies: Evaluation, Consensus and Location, it will be disseminated via the Critical Practice wiki in keeping with the cluster's commitment to creating knowledge resources that are public and accessible. Visit the Critical Practice wiki for more info.

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  1. Pingback: Utopographies: Evaluation, Consensus and Location- binding and launch | CCW Graduate School Blog

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