Version 2004 - SIMulation City
Series of talks: The city and Utopia

Mondays 22 and 29 novembre and 6 december 2004 at 6mp
Salle de conférence Necker de l'Ecole des arts décoratifs de Genève, sous la direction de la Haute école d’arts appliqués HES de Genève, rue Terreaux-du-Temple 11, CH -1201 Genève

Saturday 13 november at 8pm
attitudes - espace d’arts contemporains
            Centre for Contemporary Images

“Version 2004 consists of seven individual shows that focus particularly on the representation of urban space while analyzing the social behavior that is linked to that environment. Three scheduled talks (Winy Maas/MVRDV, Marc Augé and Felix Keller) will address the utopian dimension of the contemporary city.

(see below...)

Since Thomas More, who created the notion of utopia in the early 16th century, the majority of utopian societies sketched out by various authors imagined cities as the social or territorial pattern of their ideal world. Both the city and utopia respond to different expectations and are defined in different ways. The designs of both has also evolved throughout history. We must ask ourselves then whether the city and utopia aren't simply one of those completely devalued notions that have lost their meaning. Or, on the contrary, are they fundamental principles of modernity (as the history of their development allows us to suppose), adapting to each new era?
A nonplace (literally, according to the etymology of the Greek name), imaginary world, vision of the future in a positive sense, or something that is unrealistic, romantic or totalitarian in a negative one—these may well be simply the main synonyms or connotations of utopia. Modern architecture and design on the one hand and science fiction on the other have given birth to utopian works in the 20th century. It is a world that is resolutely focused on tomorrow, drawing greatly on potential technology and simulating a better life somewhere else, on earth or in space, at a date that is more or less in the offing. If we accept the hypothesis that the 21st century corresponds to other cultural paradigms—whether we are familiar with them or not—what form would utopia take in contemporary society and what would its importance be there?



Monday 22 november 2004 at 6pm
Marc Augé
Ville-monde et monde-ville (World City and City World)
In his essay «non-lieux» (1992) (Non-Places), M.A. doesn't give any explicit reference to utopia though it corresponds exactly to the translation of his concept. The non-places he identifies are contemporary and part of our daily life. At the same time, an understanding of these non-places, through a utopian perspective, seems to be possible. What links can be made between utopia and the non-places of M.A?

Marc Augé, anthropologist born in 1935, is director of studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris which he presided from 1985 to 1995. After several missions in West Africa, he diversified and opened his observation field to the realities of the contemporary world.
He is the author of several sociologistic books such as: Un ethnologue dans le métro (1986), Le sens des autres (1994), Pour une anthropologie des mondes contemporains (1994), Fictions fin de siècle, Non-lieux, 1992, Le temps des ruines, 2003, Pour quoi vivons-nous ?, 2003

Monday 29 november 2004 at 6pm (in english)
Winy Maas
Recent works (in english)
Urban studies of MVRDV start often with quantitative analyses on a large scale. Visual simulations of cities are produced, emphasizing the indications of development towards the extreme and the caricature. Reference works: Metacity/Datatown, Benidorm, Urbanscape Switzerland.

MVRDV, MetaCITY/DATATOWN, Rotterdam, 1998

Winy Maas was born in Schijndel in 1959. He graduated both as an architect and as an urban planner. Winy Maas has worked as an architect/urban planner at: Bureau Bakker (Bleeker), D.R.O. (Amsterdam), Kuiper Compagnons (Rotterdam), UNESCO (Nairobi), DHV (Amersfoort) and Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture (Rotterdam). Winy Maas regularly gives lectures and workshops at schools and institutions all over the world (e.g. at AA London, Berlage Institute Amsterdam, Universities of Delft, Eindhoven, Berlin, Barcelona, Oslo and Vienna, at the Cooper Union New York and in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Princeton). Beside that, he has been member of the editorial staff of Forum (1994/97) and board member of Items (1995/97) and member of the program board of the National Design Group (1998/).

Monday 6 December 2004 at 6pm
Felix Keller
The hidden future: the city in contemporary science fiction.
For a certain period the idea of the end of utopias has been under examination. In parallel, there also exists the discourse arguing "the end of the city." This is no coincidence: historically, the imageries of the ideal city and utopian thinking are an amalgam. The city is a place where the fundamental principles of a particular society manifest themselves clearly. At the same time, cities are considered as laboratories from which new societal forms emerge. The city is therefore predestined to be a key element in the representation of "other" societies in utopian novels.
What is the meaning of "the end of the city" and "the end of utopias" in this context? Are these concepts the sign of a real historical break in the possibility of imagining realities other than the existing ones? Do they illustrate the emergence of societies increasingly managed on administrative principles, no longer needing utopian (or ideological) amendment?
Questions like these will be raised in this intervention in conjunction with a presentation of the images and imageries of the cities which have historically appeared in science fiction, the refuge of utopian thought. Superficially, one can indeed speak of the end of the classic science fiction novel. If we take a closer look, however, we understand that it may be more useful to discuss the transformations that have occurred in utopian representations, because ironically, these representations constitute the appearance of our own presence.

Sociologist Felix Keller lectures at the University of Zurich. He works at the University of Zurich Institute of Sociology and the Cologne Centre for European Social Research. Felix Keller is the author of various publications on the connections between science and literature and on social representations in popular culture, particularly in science fiction.

Saturday 13 november 2004 at 8pm
Soirée Version 2004 - SIMulation City
attitudes - espace d’arts contemporains

attitudes invites Frédéric Edelmann (journalist at le Monde, France), Bernard Fibicher (director of the Kunsthalle, Bern), Marc Mimram (French architect working in China) and Hou Hanru (curator, specialist of contemporary art in China) to take part in a round table discussion on the theme of architecture in China.
Moderator : Marie-Pierre Genecand, journalist at Radio Suisse Romande, Espace 2.
attitudes, 4 rue du Beulet, CH – 1203 Geneva, +41(0)22 344 37 56,