Sunday, 20 August 2017

Utopia: In Search of the Dream @ BBC Four

What is the difference between 'utopia' and 'dystopia'?
Futures Forum: Utopia/Dystopia: looking forward to the end of the world

There is 'technology and the secret joys of bureaucracy':
Futures Forum: The language of bureaucracy >>> >>> David Graeber and "The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy"

But technology isn't always going to live up to its promise:
Futures Forum: Techno-promises unfulfilled >>> Where did the future go?

And the paperwork, the targets and the timetables on the path to utopia can be pretty soul-destroying:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and “structural stupidity”

Besides, can we really be sure our planning is going to get it right?
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the European Green Capital

A series on BBC Four looks at how we see utopia in all its various guises:
BBC Four - Utopia: In Search of the Dream

Blueprints for Better

Utopia: In Search of the Dream,Series 1 

Episode 1 of 3

In this first episode, Prof Richard Clay explores how utopian visions begin as blueprints for fairer worlds and asks whether they can inspire real change.

Charting five hundred years of utopian visions and making bold connections between exploration and science fiction - from radical 18th-century politics to online communities like Wikipedia - Richard delves into colourful stories of some of the world's greatest utopian dreamers, including Thomas More, who coined the term 'utopia', Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, and Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek.

Richard builds a compelling argument that utopian visions have been a powerful way of criticising the present and he identifies key values he believes the imagined better futures tend to idealise. He shows how the concept of shared ownership, a 'commons' of both land and digital space online, has fired utopian thinking and he explores the dream of equality through the campaign for civil rights in the 1960s and through a feminist theatrical production in today's America.

Immersing himself in a terrifying '1984' survival drama in Vilnius, Lithuania, Richard also looks at the flip side, asking why dystopias are so popular today in film, TV and comic book culture. He explores whether dystopian visions have been a way to remind ourselves that hard-won gains can be lost and that we must beware humanity's darker side if we are ever to reach a better place.

Across Britain, Germany, Lithuania and America, Richard talks about the meaning of utopia with a rich range of interviewees, including Katherine Maher, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols, explorer Belinda Kirk, football commentator John Motson and Hollywood screenwriter Frank Spotnitz.

Release date:8 August 2017

BBC Four - Utopia: In Search of the Dream, Series 1, Blueprints for Better

Build It And They Will Come

Utopia: In Search of the Dream,Series 1 

Episode 2 of 3

Utopia has been imagined in a thousand different ways. Yet when people try to build utopia, they struggle and very often fail. Art historian professor Richard Clay asks whether utopian visions for living can ever reconcile the tension between the group and the individual, the rules and the desire to break free.

Travelling to America, he encounters experimental communities, searching for greater meaning in life. Richard visits a former Shaker village in New Hampshire and immerses himself for a day at the Twin Oaks eco-commune in Virginia, where residents share everything, even clothes. He looks back at the grand urban plans for the masses of the 20th century utopian ideologies, from the New Deal housing projects of downtown Chicago to the concrete sprawl of a Soviet-era housing estate in Vilnius, Lithuania. He also meets utopian architects with a continuing faith that humanity's lot can be improved by better design. Interviewees include architect Norman Foster and designer Shoji Sadao.

BBC Four - Utopia: In Search of the Dream, Series 1, Build It And They Will Come

A Good Place Within

Utopia: In Search of the Dream,Series 1 

Episode 3 of 3

Art historian Richard Clay asks whether utopia is, ultimately, a state of mind. Can we find utopia within? He explores the many ways we have created to immerse ourselves in a perfect moment, of epiphany ortranscendence, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression and pleasure.

Seeking answers in a broad range of arts, Richard meets digital games pioneer Sid Meier, Rada improvisation teacher Chris Heimann and opera impresario Martin Graham. He tries to compose a haiku and uncovers traces of the hedonistic medieval Carnival tradition in the churches and pubs of his native Lancashire.

Richard also compares and contrasts different musical escapes, interviewing Acid House legend A Guy Called Gerald and the celebrated minimalist composer Steve Reich. This is not about the utopia of the future but about the utopia of the immediate world that we can experience now.

BBC Four - Utopia: In Search of the Dream, Series 1, A Good Place Within

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