Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

Utopia Lab Spring 2023

This Utopia Lab was part of the Edinburgh Futures Institute’s Love Machine event series. The season explored the interconnections of AI and data with humanity through conversations, performances, and workshops.

In this session, we started – as always – with breathing exercises, stretches for the body, meditation and a poem. Then Catherine performed an exquisite reading of her original text on the theme of Utopia. It began by her changing from one ‘street’ outfit into a very sparkly! ‘performance’ outfit. The poetry of her words was intoxicating, and painted a world at times sensual, at times provocative and at times terrifying in its exploration of essential humanity. Phil followed with a moving presentation exploring his own childhood in rural Canada, the trajectory and implications (moral and otherwise) of his fascinating work as a data scientist working for DARPA as well as many other companies, and his vision of a utopia in which each person – city lover or country lover, people person or solace person, could find their perfect space and live there with what they need not only to survive but to be happy. 

We then shared a beautiful lunch and broke up into groups that each worked on creating their own visions of utopia inspired by the speakers.

In the last hour, the groups presented their visions and Utopian Matjaz Vidmar led the groups in an exercise in which they assembled and connected their visions – prompting wonderful opportunities for highlighting links and questioning possibilities.

We finished, as always, with more stretching, breath work, meditation and another poem.

The poem we started with was Instructions on Not Giving Up by Ada Limón and the poem we finished with was Too Lazy to be Ambitious by Ryokan. 

Utopia is a ‘no-space’ for contemplation, innovation and collaboration. Our labs curate interactions between academics, artists, entrepreneurs, students and audiences in person and online globally. We are interested in that which is provocative and irreverent as well as that which is nurturing and joyful. Utopia questions are catalysts for inquiry, learning and creativity. With an emphasis on innovative and experimental ways of communicating, we explore meditation, dialogue and co-creation with the help of a facilitator. Participants consist of University staff and students, and non-University practitioners.  

Utopia Speakers

Catherine Street

Face of beautiful woman with eyeliner and dark hair

Catherine Street is a visual artist working across performance; video and sound installation; collage; and writing. Her performed installations are intensely sensory with an atmosphere that could be disturbing, sensual or comical. They feature unusual combinations of her body and digital media with flickering configurations of sound and light. There may also be speech works combining evocations of physical sensations and speculations on the artist’s motivations. A major part of her practice is devoted to writing, both for the screen and for live readings. She is interested in the embodied mind; the relationship between flesh and concepts. She explores sexuality and the eroticism of plants. She aims for writing that is visceral and immediate, deliberately avoiding a more rigorous form of theorising. She likes to explore the paradox of attempting to conjure wordless states through words. Catherine has exhibited and performed across Scotland and further afield for example at Talbot Rice Gallery Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, Fruitmarket Gallery, Cindy Rucker Gallery New York, and recent commissions for LUX Scotland, Radiophrenia, and Hidden Door Festival. She has completed a number of residencies including Studio Somewhere in Glasgow, the Museum of Loss and Renewal, Collemacchia, Italy, Cove Park, Hospitalfield and Scottish Sculpture Workshop. Visit Catherine’s website here for more details.


Philippe Horne

After graduating with a Bachelor in Software Engineering, Philippe Horne worked in research and development for 15 years. Most of that time was spent exploring the Big Data, AI & Machine Learning spaces, including published work in DARPA programs. Along the way, he started doing glass art in his downtime. Leaving poutine behind, he came to Edinburgh to study for an MSc in Future Governance.



Pictures from Utopia

Utopia Lab Spring 2023

(c) Gintare Kulyte


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.