RnD project by Urbonas at CAA Turku 2011
June 28th, 2012


UTO-PIA  is the research project by Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas,  that works with experimental media and communication techniques to map heterotopias – spaces that are remote and simultaneously next to us, the places that are connected and disconnected at the same time.

The project examines the ways in which art, design, and technology can be leveraged to develop creative tactical responses and potential future practices within societies forced to cope with a deepening ecological crisis. The work deals with nature, bio-political resistance, and networked bodies in the environment to inquire into the ecology of sustainable everyday life.

UTO-PIA is developed as part of an international contemporary art exhibition Contemporary Art Archipelago, Turku European Capital of Culture 2011 http://www.turku2011.fi/en/caa_en

…The Uto-Pia project suggests a model within an emerging dialogical sphere between the Contemporary Art Archipelgo (CAA), the art project and Turku Archipelago, a constellation of more than 40,000 islands in the northern part of the Baltic Sea – one of the most polluted seas in the world. In between the model and its modeling site, the island speaks to the ideal condition (a dream?) that can be achieved (modeled) perhaps only in such a lab situation, given the scale and “insular climate” – a perfect continuum between geography and human imagination.

Uto – the most remote (and strategic!) island from a myriad in the archipelago – is a man-made fortress with its signifiers crafted for orientation and disguise: a beacon to guide ships charting international waters, a maritime defense fortress and a garrison as sources of infrastructure for natural and civilian life. For the project, this topology is derivative; it is a constituency that suggests Uto as the core part of the project’s title. Pia – the second half – is the name of a Finnish woman who has four sheep. She lives with her sheep on, Korpo one of the bigger islands in the archipelago. To get there one needs a boat or needs – if you read to the end of this essay – a bridge – that is, a shortcut between Uto and Pia, a hyphen, an abstraction, a transitional object. The transitional object is borrowed from psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott.[i] For Winnicott, the transitional object designated “the intermediate area of experience, between the thumb and the teddy bear, between the oral erotism and the true object-relationship, between primary creative activity and projection of what has already been introjected. Not necessarily a thing at all, the transitional object is more often an action, a sound, or some other phenomena.”[ii] It is the choreography that sets objects in motion…

For full essay go to Topology of an Island


[i] WINNICOTT, D. W. (1971) Playing and Reality. London: Tavistock Publications.

[ii] VARNELIS, K. and SUMRELL, R. (2010) Personal Lubricants: Shell Oil and Scenario Planning. In Ghosn, R. (ed.) New Geographies: Landscapes of Energy. (volume 2 February 2010). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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