The Mobile Utopia Experiment

The Mobile Utopia Experiment is a creative enactment of a mobile utopia made concrete and personal in Lancaster, a medium-size university town. The enactment envisages how people, objects, ideas, resources will travel in a near-ish future of 2051. It explores, for example:

  • the social life and moral order of traffic as it increasingly incorporates ‘driverless’ mobile pods, dynamic on-demand ride sharing, a more densely populated vertical dimension, as well as incorporating more walking and cyclin
  • social and material practices of mobilities of work, home and leisure
  • the im|material im|mobilities of plastic, bacteria, CO2, aerial particulates and data

Enactment is facilitated through a game, its components are activities, lived, prefigurative enactments of mobile utopias in the here and now.

What are mobile utopia experiments? Mobile Utopia experiments are ways of making futures inhabitable enough to experiment with new ways of working, living, thinking, making relationships, enacting responsibilities, playing, learning and so on. They could be thought experiments, facilitated through narrative, visualisations, scenarios, or modelling, they could be interactive performances, installations, artworks. Individual experiments must seek to engage members of the public (students and staff on campus, residents of Lancaster and Morecambe, visitors), and the more hands on they are, the better, because that invites more than discursive reflection and creativity, allowing embodied, social and sensory experimentation. The pre-enactment experiments should envisage how people, objects, ideas, resources will travel in a near-ish future of 2051 and make pockets of such futures inhabitable.

Have a look at some examples here.

How to take part?  To become part of the big Mobile Utopia Experiment, please contact us. There are two UtopiaLabs scheduled on 28th June and 28th September 2017 at CeMoRe, and many experiments will take place 1-2 November 2017.

When do the mobile utopia experiments happen? The mobile utopia experiments can happen anytime between now and 1-2 November. They will be documented with a ‘time capsule from the future’, containing e.g. objects, pictures, stories, and quotes from participants. If experiments runbefore 1-2 November, they will re-run on 1-2 November, because on those days all experiments come together as one big Mobile Utopia Experiment and we will attempt integrative analysis.

What makes them mobile? Mobile utopia experiments are mobile in two senses: Firstly, they come at ideas of utopia/dystopia with an analytical orientation to movement, blocked movement, moorings, stillness, speed, slowness. These might be mobilities of people, objects, information, ideas, microbes, no limits. Secondly they ‘move in’ or ‘into’ the future, they use mobile, inventive methods to move with people, objects, information, and allow researchers and participants to be moved.

Why ‘mobilise’ utopia? We ‘mobilise’ utopia as method in Levitas’ sense, because it allows us to ‘stay with the troubles’ (Haraway 2016) of mobility systems and experiment with social futures (Urry 2016). Mobilising utopia as method encourages critical, ethically reflexive and creative inquiry and it is integrative, making the ‘systemness’ of forms of everyday life available for reflection and change. For more information about our motivations, see here.

The Mobile Utopia Experiment 1-2 November 2017

For a day and a half, the individual experiments will come together as one big Mobile Utopia Experiment – a series of ‘stations’ available on campus, online and in Lancaster.

People who participate will experience the experiments as activities in a game – they can enter anytime during the 1.5 days, for as long as they like. They are the utopians, their task is to live and document a utopian everyday. They do what they normally do in a day, but they build in some of the experimental activities to ‘step into’ the future. Documentation of their engagement and reflections is part of the activity. Players gather badges at game stations. The player with the most badges will receive a prize at the Mobile Utopia Conference Banquet.

To participate in the Mobile Utopia Experiment and the analysis (but not run your own experiment) join the Bonfire School or contact us for information.

Note that the Mobile Utopia Experiment is one of several events and we would be delighted to welcome you for the whole week.

There are many ways to participate:

1. Take part in all of it, the Bonfire School, the Mobile Utopia Experiment and the Mobile Utopia Conference 30th October – 5th November 2017
2. Join the Bonfire School to discuss your research and participate in the Mobile Utopia Experiment (you don’t have to bring an experiment) 30th October – 2nd November 2017
3. Make a Mobile Utopia Experiment and bring it to Lancaster 1-2nd November 2017

We’d be delighted to meet you. Please follow the individual links above for instructions. Registration is open and available here (early registration is recommended).

If you have any questions, please contact us.