Utopian and Dystopian Worlds

This week we discussed the place, conception, and use of utopias and dystopias in ENVS 350. This tied well into my exploration of artists worlds in my research which, not surprisingly, touches on dystopias and utopias in various ways. It can be argued that dys/utopias have various uses as shapers of society and culture. In various setting dystopias may insight change due to their appeal to urgency and crisis. Personally, I prefer the argument that utopias are valuable to positive societal change because they provide something to work towards, although it is unlikely that most utopias will be achievable. 

A dimension I think is valuable to add to this discussion is where our dystopias and utopias arise from, who expresses them, and which ones are given the most attention. There is value in deconstructing the source of these stories in our own societies. Deconstructing the origins of dys/utopias may help form an understanding around how they can serve or harm us. As I study the eco-art worlds created as symbolic acts by artists, consideration of dys/utopian stories and their origins will help me discuss the power and complexity implicit in constructing a world. 

Currently, I am reading TJ Demos’s “Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology”. Valuably, Demos critiques the scholars such as Jane Bennet and Bruno Latour who I am citing in my research as well as other institutional scholarship surrounding ecological art. Focus is placed on the construction of the Anthropocene and the assumption that it is universal in a social and political sense. Demos’s critique and our discussion of dys/utopias in ENVS 350 brought up important questions that I plan to address in my capstone. 

These include:

How do artists create worlds in response to the proposed Anthropocene epoch?

How do dys/utopian constructions of the Anthropocene reflect or communicate the complexity in an artist’s personal experience? In what ways is this a valuable method of expression? 

1 Comment

  1. I think that you bring up a really good point, asking where our prominent Utopias and dystopias come from. It is awesome that you have been doing reading that reflects themes that we have discussed in class. I think that the large questions that you present at the end of the post are important and maybe then you should be investigating lots of views of the Anthropocene to understand if and how this is a utopia /dystopia.

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