10 April, 2019 • • 40.0EnvironmentPolitics & SocietyTechnology

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Uto/Dystopias Special Issue Editorial

Marek Sullivan & Nicolas Liney

Hilary 2019

Wolfgang Tillmans, Icestorm (2001)

Wolfgang Tillmans’ Icestorm (2001) presents an arid landscape, spattered in red ink and suffused with an amber hue. The ink most obviously evokes blood, but the title of the piece also suggests a kind of abstract sleet, so that it becomes difficult to tell where the organic ends and the ecological begins. To complicate matters, the amber hue embalms the whole scene with a frozen, prehistoricising shroud, turning spontaneous marks into dead traces and resulting in a destabilising face-off between movement and stillness: are the red splashes within the scene, frozen in prehistory together with the trees, or are they splashed onto the already-frozen landscape, in a reclamation and restatement of the past? Separating these two possibilities is the grey zone from progressivism to nostalgia.

It is difficult to remember a time when we were not (or at least, less) called upon to take a position between these two poles. Regardless of our allegiances and political orientations, it is now clearer than ever that the centre cannot hold: left and right, past and future—the call to extricate ourselves from the static, stultifying present hits from all sides, deafeningly. 

The present contributions to Uto/Dystopias explore the tensions, experiences, hopes and fears of the moment from a range of positions. They provide a small snapshot of what it feels like to be alive in 2019, in the midst of our planet’s relentless destruction, on the cusp of Britain’s exit from the EU, and moving into an uneasy alliance between humans and AI. If Tillmans’ earlier Concorde series set out to record the vestigial modern—the bathetic carry-over from a previous age of empty faith in technological progress—the current collection records the shift into a politics of radical engagement, where ironic nostalgia may ring hollow, as the sentinel of the status quo.

We would like to thank all the contributors for giving us such a rich array of responses to the theme. We had a wonderful time editing and we hope you will enjoy reading, too.

Marek and Nic

A short story by Conor Gearin

Junkspace: The Wonderful Worlds of Bodys Isek Kingelez
Essay by Nicolas Liney

El mundo que yo no viva / Euripides Electra: 699-746
Two poems by Grace Linden

The Future History of the British Isles
Hugh Dichmont on Britain after Brexit

Hymn to RoboBee, after Sappho
A poem by Arabella Currie

The Marlborough Arms
A short story by Benjamin Pope

Haunted Futures
Marek Sullivan on Massive Attack at Steel Yard