Leonardo Amico

Utopia Dweller

A 2010s toolkit to live dreams of 1970s radical utopias

Our age might have lost any imagination of the future, but it gave us all the tools to make the last dreams of utopia come true. 


After years of browsing his collection of Whole Earth Catalogue and 70s Casabella magazine, in awe with those visionary dreams and powerful images of radical utopias, somebody is realizing that such worlds can now become reality.  

Shek, the Utopia Dweller, has found that the promises of disappearance of architecture that Archigram was wishing for, are just what one-click orders, accessible VR technologies, meal replacements and a small computer are now able to provide. Thus Shek can fulfill his (in the words of David Greene) “desire, for the built environment to allow [him] to do [his] own thing”. And all he needs, that environment, can fit on a table. 

So, based anywhere, in between a peaceful life of crafts and hi-resolution simulations, free from an age that seems to lack any new proposition for the future, the Utopia Dweller found in new technologies the means to live in a future the past carefully designed for him, almost 50 years ago.

For Sottsass’ vision of “The planet as a Festival” everybody became an “artist-artisan”. Shek often spends time wood-carving and when he reads about “consumer goods” [that] are moved automatically along the channels of a kind of underground network [...] automatically questioned by portable keyboards which communicate via radio with the computers in the superstorehouses” he thinks of Amazon Prime, and of how anything he wants can be sent to him, no matter where he lives. 
Even needs for food are no longer a problem. As he has his monthly ration, in the form of Soylent, delivered straight to his dwelling. Freeing him from the from supermarkets, groceries and from the burden of having to provide for his food.

“[M]ammals and computers live together in mutually programming harmony like pure water touching clear sky”. Reading those lines of the poem “All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace”, Shek thinks of himself, as he works through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk helping the machine in jobs it’s still not able to do. But also knowing that it won’t last. Pilot programs of Universal Basic Income are already being tested in Finland, and he believes that “a cybernetic ecology where we are free of our labors” is not too far in time.

And finally, as he plugs in his VR headset, he doesn’t even deny himself the pleasure of living in the No-Stop cities, the Continuous Monuments and the Walking Cities his designers-heroes created or in any other hyperreal world, home of the mind, where no law of physics, gender barriers and social rules constraints exist.

© 2019 Leonardo Amico & Federico Floriani / Photos by Federico Floriani