Exploring American Faith in Engineering a More Perfect Future:
“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” – John Muir
To the old compromises of European government and tribal relations, America answers that a more perfect union is possible. That we can engineer a fair, just and functional government by the application of the rule of law, ingenuity and the hard work of citizens who when left to themselves will do good, which is naturally in them. While there may be spiritual dimensions to progress, the real work is done in the world, by hand, by man and woman, towards ever improving results.
Mutopia explores the American faith in engineering a more perfect future.
Deep in the American experiment, lies a core belief in the potential for improvement, or better yet perfection. From the self help movement and the beauty industry, to Walmart and Apple computer, to electric/hybrid cars and stem-cell research, there is a deep American assumption that meaningful progress towards perfected states is not just possible, it is very near at hand, needing just a little hard work to be realized.
Mutopia embodies this dream/faith/experiment/reality of a generative interaction between the organic and inorganic worlds, and between the needs and desires of humans, plants and machines, as their paths and destinies cross and intertwine. As the current American Reality adapts to the “cross-breeding” of genetic material drawn from animals, plants and machines, it makes way for the possibility of truly “synthetic” forms of life. Mutopia allows Playa citizens to participate in the ambiguities inherent in that possibility.
Mutopia explores a moment of sudden interactive evolution, where plants have achieved the intelligence to spiral out, reacting equally to everything they meet, whether computer technology or human life, instantly adopting and incorporating, at will, aspects of what they have encountered. A visitor to Mutopia is one more agent of change who influences the organism’s mutation, growth and development. Mutopia’s rapid adaptation reflects the ability of America ingenuity to see, adopt, and unreflectively alter everything it touches.
America has long dreamt of more perfected forms of life, across the entire domain of creation. This dreaming has now been developed through engineering and is in full production. Mutopia asks how this might play out as America goes further into genetic engineering, showing the usual combination of wide-eyed optimism and minimized concern for ancillary impact. What will “nature” look like in a future where our optimistic engineering has run its many permutations to form a more perfect union across plant, animal and machine entities? Clearly we are moving in the direction of cyborg entities which will blur the lines between these previously impermeable walls. As we blur the lines and create new entities in our uniquely American image, how might these similarly embody both the new expansiveness and abilities of typical American engineering, as well as the social descriptiveness and existential renovations that usually come with them?
Mutopia will create an early experiential glimpse of the fancies and follies that grow ahead in the path of this American Dream. Mutopia conjures a future American landscape of hybrid bio-machine entities. Seedpods that might have sprouted from chemical curiosities sending airborne kinetic elements of flesh and steel. Plants that have now evolved to have the animal aspect of mobility and which integrate at will improvements inspired by machines. Intelligence (as we knew it) is no longer just the indulgence of primates, rather, it has been engineered down to the plant kingdom, which is now finding its “legs” and discovering what intelligence means in cellulose. Isn’t that just like a dream? Is this domestic tranquility?
The culture of this American Dream is both a cautionary tale of disruption to natural and social systems and the tale of a seed of possibility germinating in a world of hope. Americans have been loved for our deep confidence that we can engineer, innovate and propagate a better future. This faith in progress, and our collective ability to create it, is not just enshrined in the Flaming Lotus Girl experiment of radical collaboration and meowist do-ocracy, it continues as basic tenet and orientation of our American Dream. FLG’s are optimistic that we have the tools to engineer a more perfect future.