Darryl Chen, 26 06 11

Excerpts from Darryl Chen’s Productive Dystopia essay in ‘Utopia Forever’:

“Our narrative is modernity, and our dystopias are the super-planned, re-planned and unplanned environments of the modern world. The aberrations and abandoned spaces of our modern environments, the margins that are squeezed by the excesses of development, the new natures that are produced in lieu of what was natural, the waste that is left behind after the flight of capital— these are the instable interstices of modern life. They are latent territories that are both the unforeseen consequences of our modern impulse, as well as the raw material for a renewed project on the city.
“Like a private detective covertly sorting through the trash of a client’s ex-lover, so we find in the wastelands of our modern existence a potent indicator of our cultural habits. These rogue byproducts of our modern existence even threaten to play an active role in the progress of our urbanism. There is in this deduction the possibility to recover something  from the ruins of the present in the formulation of the future….

“…An exploration of consequences  cannot escape from judgment or criticism. By its very nature it ought to be critical—that is, of our present society’s norms and forms. It is a game of persuasion where the power of speculation rests not on how it will solve problems but instead on how it will  capture our imagination, and by its ability to seed further exploration. Powerful architecture transcends the merely moral and embraces the sublime, the grotesque, the monstrous, and the radical.

“The present can be mined for those critical projects that turn the perverse, fantastic and  underrated phenomena of our modern world into design platforms. This vast material at our disposal can be projected into the future in order to let wild imaginings roam free  and  test speculations against our own fragile notions of what should be real. This activity is tangential to the spectrum of morality. It both provides a lens on the future and provides a critique of the present, and in so doing collapses future and present into the same time-frame unearthing tomorrow’s thoughts today.”

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