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“Unless the past and future were made part of the present by memory and intention, there was, in human terms, no road, nowhere to go.” ~Ursula K LeGuin, The Dispossessed
All good science fiction warns against losing the spirit of inquiry to normative control structures. Yet the visionaries of the past can become the future status quo. The individualism celebrated in the twentieth century’s future visions is the foundation of today’s Silicon Valley capitalism. Can we still look to the past to envision and create the culture of our preferred futures? If techno-utopias are monopolies on our attention, how do we play a longer game? In an atomized world, how can we re-prioritize coming together? By opening ourselves to living history, can we learn from the parts of it that make us who we are today? Not My Utopia examines the technological status quo and looks towards other possible futures.
Through inter-generational inquiry, these works aim to provoke immediate and personal conversations between makers and the audience about how to re-imagine the unfolding future. The present-day urgency of Zeesy Power’s Smart City PSAs pushes back against libertarian utopias sold as the only answer to urban crises. Megan May Daalder’s documentary series Megan May Daalder’s documentary series Children of the Singularity questions assumptions of youth as passive technological consumers and invites them to be the preeminent philosophers of the future.
Collectively, these works look directly at the widespread gains and losses that are the legacy of technological development, determined that we are the only ones who can save ourselves.
Co-presented by the University of Toronto, Center for Ethics | Ethics of AI Lab @UofTEthics @EthicsAILab and Ryerson School of Image Arts, Documentary Media @RyersonIMA @DocMediaMFA
Artist Statement: ZEESY POWERS
The extreme complexity of issues at the intersection of technology, capitalism and society alienate us from the critical impacts they will have on our lives in the (rapidly approaching) future. Smart cities, as understood by those that seek to build them, manage to combine the Neo-Liberal logic of capital serving as the ultimate model of governance with authoritarian demands for total control of the populace facilitated by permanent and total surveillance. These spaces require corporate takeovers of the private and public spaces that are critical to functioning democratic systems. The SMART CITY series of PSAs aims to provide a primer on the fundamentals of this emerging and absolute form of techno-capitalism, revealing the highly political nature of these supposedly inevitable spaces.
Artist Statement: MEGAN MAY DAALDER
Children of the Singularity by artist and filmmaker Megan May Daalder is a short documentary series that asks tech-savvy youth and their parents to speculate about the technological future from an intergenerational perspective.
At the start of the 21st century, hippies turned Silicon Valley CEOs promised nothing but science-fiction inspired improvements to humankind. Within a decade those promises have lost all credibility, but the resulting technical infrastructure will continue to alter behavior, condition social values, and determine economic survivability for generations.
Using sci-fi sensibilities and a verite documentary style, Children of the Singularity encourages young people to question the forces that shape pervasive digital technologies, and imagine alternative futures. Through intergenerational dialogues and reflective interviews, each episode challenges parents and youth to link technological futures with personal histories and explore the theme of interdependence in an era of atomization.