Still from Adam curtis All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Adam Curtis: Dystopian Dialectics

‘Today we are people who know better,’ the American artist Sam Green tells us in a recent performance of his Utopia in Four Movements, ‘and that’s both a wonderful and terrible thing.’

What we know are the horrors of a hundred years of Utopia made manifest: Nazi Germany, Maoist China, and Stalin’s Soviet Union; the policies and politics of Neo-Conservatism and Neo-Liberalism; cybernetic hallucinations of machine messiahs and false fantasies of absolute individual freedom. In each case there was a radical break with the present and a bold leap toward an imagined future; in every case the result was disastrous. We now know better, and we won’t get fooled again by dreams of infinite possibility. This is a wonderful thing. And this is a terrible thing, for what are we without such dreams?

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Published in Photoworks issue 18, 2011
Commissioned by Photoworks

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