Utopia as an expression of unlimited imagination and desire is a concept that has always fascinated artists. Art can see in utopia a means to lift the restrictions of reality and accomplish the free expression of its visions. Starting from this connection and its various instantiations in the history of art, this workshop deals with the multiple significations, implications and dimensions of utopia. In everyday discourse the term ‘utopia’ is usually connected with an ideal future, with what seems impossible within the confines of reality, and is thus bound to create margins for many and often contradictory interpretations. Utopias are the places of dreams and hopes for a better life, which provide an escape from an always incomplete and constraining status quo. Sometimes they involve grandiose metaphysical schemata, other times they take the form of ephemeral shelters distanced from detailed sociopolitical reflection. Always, however, their creation is based on the criticism of established (political and aesthetical) institutions and social structures. Inspiring antithetical political and artistic practices, praised but also criticized, utopia has been a focus of debate for many disciplines and approaches. By blending theoretical discussion, aesthetic reflection and the artistic work of the participants, this workshop aims at critically exploring the various interconnections between theory and praxis, vision and reality, desire and finitude, utopia and dystopia.

Utopia and Youth

Within the context of the generalised youth protests that rocked Greece last December – also gaining widespread international recognition – this year’s workshop focuses on the relation between utopian discourse and youth. A historical study of youth movements reveals that youth has always functioned as a nodal point of resistance against the socio-political status quo of the day, advancing radical political transformation and social change. This is not to say, however, that all youth mobilization has a progressive orientation; on the contrary, it has also been lured by utopias of exclusion such as the Nazi Utopia of Racial Purity. Hence, the workshop will deal in depth with youth creativity and youth violence, will examine the role of youth subcultures in social and political mobilization, focusing on both the creative as well as the destructive dimensions of youth activism.

6th Painting Studio ASFA (Athens School of Fine Arts)

Basic timetable:

2 July: arrivals
3 July – 6 July: presentations
14 - 15 July: preparation of the presentation of the work
16-17 July: show and presentations of final works
18 July: end of show - departures

Number of Participating Students: 11

Organizer-Facilitator: Vassilis Vlastaras, Visual artist, Lecturer, ASFA
Assistant Organizer-Facilitator: Maria Glyka, Visual artist.

07 July, 2009

Sim City

Sim City

Sim city has its roots in the Sin City of the desert of Nevada, Las Vegas, a sub-product deriving from a peculiar way of understanding the zoning principle of the Athens Charter applied to a continent. Sin City was a utopia that sprang up in one of the most inhospitable places on earth, with the sole aim of encompassing what the rigid morality of the post-war period could not accept in the cities of well-to-do families: The existence of gambling, prostitution, drugs, and murder.

Sim City, an elaborated and innocent version of Sin City, was born in 1955 in Anaheim, a city located on the outskirts of Los Angeles, with the aim of inaugurating Disney's first theme park. Disneyland was the first incursion into the terrain of urban simulation, with the creation of an enclosed environment within which on payment of an entry fee differences of sex, age, language, creed, and culture were annulled. The first-generation Sim City was a repairing balm for the conflict festering in the metropolis. Hence its overwhelming success.

Supported by a culture avid for events, and spurred on by the apotheosis of the media and the show society, the advance of thematization would be unstoppable as from the inauguration of Celebration, the first residential operation sponsored by Disney in the 1980s. After these came Seaside, Poundbury, and a whole string of second-generation Sim Cities for real citizens for whom existence can become a game, standard bearers of an overwhelmingly successful trend, New Urbanism.

At this point the philosopher Félix Duque leads us to the third state of the definition of Sim City, in which both the city and its citizens are simulated. A product of the ingenuity of computer programmers, simulation games transfer the thematized Sun City to the interior of the evanescent City of Bits, with the aim of recreating in it the idyllic network of the Old City of the United States that has gone for ever. Sim City inaugurated the computer game trend known as God Games as an escape from life in the city within the Non-city, where the seductive sensation of the omnipotence of he who creates and destroys mixes with the unstoppable voyeurism inherent in the contemporary culture of Big Brother.


Will Wright is the founder of the Maxis world computer programming giant. Wright started designing computer games with the Raid on Bungeling Bay helicopter simulator in 1984. However, being more attracted by the construction of scenarios than by the development of play action, he became involved in an ambitious project of the simulation of urban surroundings known as Sim City, which came onto the market in 1989 to huge success. Subsequently he also worked on The Sims, which became the best-selling computer game of all time.

No comments:

Proposed Bibliography on Youth

Amit-Talai V. and Wolff H. (1995), Youth Cultures: A Cross Cultural Perspective, London: Routledge.
Angel W. (1990), Youth Movements of the World, Harlow: Longman.
Boren M.E. (2001), Student Resistance-A History of the Unruly Subject, London and New York: Routledge.
Brown S. (2005), Understanding Youth and Crime, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Cavalli A. and Galland O. (1995), Youth in Europe, London: Pinter-A Cassel Imprint.
Chisholm L. and Kovacheva S. (2002), Exploring the European Youth Mosaic, Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.
Cohen P. (1997), Rethinking the Youth Question, Basingstoke: MacMillan Press.
Coleman J. and Hendry L. (1996), The Nature of Adolescence, London: Routledge.
Craig S. and Bennet S.E. (1997), After the Boom-The Politics of Generation X, London: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Epstein J. (ed) (1998), Youth Culture: Identity in a Post-modern World, Malden Mass: Blackwell.
Fornas J. and Bolin G. (eds) (1995), Youth Culture in Late Modernity, London: SAGE.
France A. (2007), Understanding Youth in Late Modernity, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Frank T. (1997), The Conquest of Cool, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Hall S. and Jefferson T. (eds.) (2006), Resistance Through Rituals, Abingdon: Routledge.
Hodkinson P. and Deicke W. (eds) (2007), Youth Cultures: Scenes, Subcultures and Tribes, London: Routledge.
MacDonald R. (ed) (2000), Youth, the ‘Underclass’ and Social Exclusion, Abingdon: Routledge.
Miles S. (2000), Youth Lifestyles in a Changing World, Buckingham: Open University Press.
Mizen P. (2004), The Changing State of Youth, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
Muncie J. (2006), Youth and Crime, London: SAGE.
Nava M. (1992), Changing Cultures-Feminism, Youth and Consumerism, London: SAGE.
Roche J., Tucker S., Thomson R. and Flynn R. (eds.) (2005), Youth in Society, London: SAGE.
Savage J. (2007), Teenage-The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, London: Chatto & Windus.
Wallace C. and Kovatcheva, S. (1998), Youth in Society-The Construction and Deconstruction of Youth in East and West Europe, Basingstoke: Palgrave.