Saturday 12 September 11am – 4.30pm
‘Into the Future’ Seminar
Broadway, 14 – 18 Broad Street, NG1 3AL

£10, Ticket price includes lunch.

As the culmination of the …And Beyond Institute for Future Research Intersections commission at Primary, this seminar explores how our ideas of the future are culturally constructed and asks what new forms collective imaginings of the future might take.

Featuring presentations and case studies from guest artists and thinkers, and open discussion, the seminar will take the form of a live event simultaneously taking place at Broadway, broadcast online and via twitter.

This event is produced by Primary, with kind support from Near Now, Broadway and Horizon Research Institute.

For any enquiries please email gro.1532055843yrami1532055843rpera1532055843ew@tr1532055843anieb1532055843.acce1532055843ber1532055843Twitter @AndBeyondInst 

Limited seating. For live broadcast, please visit


11.00 – 11.15: Welcome and introduction by Sonya Dyer, ABIFR
(Tea & coffee available)

11.15 – 12.15: Utopia or Dystopia?
The Future is usually envisioned within the frame of two main narrative devices – Utopia and Dystopia. How are these concepts related? What are their political implications? Is there a Future beyond them?

Presentations from David Bell, Ibtisam Ahmed and Kei Kreutler.

12.15 – 13.00: Discussion

13.00 – 14.00: Lunch

14.00 – 15.00: Future Relations
What kind of Speculative Relationships can we envisage for the future – with ourselves, our communities and society as a whole? If we could design a new way of living what would it look like?

Presentations from Sonya Dyer, Sarah T Gold and Tammy Nicholls

15.00 – 16.00 Discussion

16.00 – 16.30 Wrap-up, including sharing of outcomes from the Into the Future workshops on Friday.


AM: Utopia or Dystopia?

David Bell
The Servant’s Cough. Utopia, 1516-2516
In the second book of Thomas More’s Utopia the traveler Raphael Hythloday returns from the titular island. Having regaled his companions with details of life in this ‘perfect’ place, one of them is so intrigued he asks Hythloday where it might be found. Hythloday replies, but his answer is obscured by a servant’s cough. We never learn where utopia is. Five hundred years later and we’re still hearing coughs. And perhaps those coughs hide from us an unpalatable truth: that those features of utopia which terrify us so much are here. Now.

This talk will listen behind the cough to trace utopia’s many forms and functions. It will explore its relationship to colonialism, state-building and the ‘end of history’ we are told we have reached. But it will also explore utopia’s potentially emancipatory role within, against and – perhaps – beyond this end of history.

Ibtisam Ahmed
Section 377 and Prescriptive Utopias
All forms of governance have inherently utopian goals by aiming to provide a “better life”. However, where this better life is a matter of context, the nature of utopia becomes increasingly problematic. Section 377 was introduced across the British Empire in the latter half of the 19th century as a means of implementing a specific, Victorian Christian vision of acceptable personal intimacy. Outlawing same-sex romance and physicality, it set up a top-down prescriptive model of a moral utopia. Centuries later, the effects are still being felt in South Asia, where the ruling has remained in the legal statutes of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Despite strong evidence that points to a region that was tolerant and even accepting of fluid sexualities, all three countries have developed strongly heteronormative and homophobic social norms since Section 377 was introduced. By considering the dangers of applying prescriptive utopias without looking at the socio-political context, this presentation aims to provide alternative readings to mainstream perceptions of utopianism, heteronormativity and queer culture. It will also examine the possibility of reconnecting with traditional elements of the past in order to move towards a better future.

Kei Kreutler
An overview of the unMonastery project and what we’ve been involved in over the past several years setting up living spaces in Matera, Italy and Athens, Greece. The unMonastery model is to allow individuals to live sustainably in shared residences that work in service to a community, while creating and living by a daily practice inspired by monastic rule and hackerspace design patterns – with a view toward cultivating a more convivial, balanced collective life.

The project, however, is a bit of a chimera in what it seeks to address and how it functions in the world. It’s manifestations are quite varied – from establishing a network of spaces in Europe to frame the possibility of an open source monastic order to producing books and toolkit of templates and documentation around ways of living together. We approach the project perhaps from a utopic perspective, but decidedly not embracing its usual connotation of totalizing design. Rather we act as facilitators between disparate networks and groups that exist within localities but may not be connected to one another, looking for potential synergies and aiming to distribute all of our learnings under open source licenses.

PM: Future Relations

Sonya Dyer
Intimate Companions – On the possibilities and ethics of robots as caregivers
A provocative proposition for the elimination of all non-pleasurable intimate and domestic labour, inspired by SF movies, speculative fiction and the insidious influence of art history and slave economies on contemporary labour relations.

Sarah Gold
Accountability of technologies
How might decentralised technologies be more trustful? In particular, this presentation is interested in new digital tools, data commons and the notion of civic institutions of the Internet. Relationships, identity and trust are all central to their success and dissemination.

Tammy Nicholls
An exploration of how “I”, the player, is becoming more central to the gaming experience.

Open world video games – which allow the player to control a blank, customisable character – are increasingly popular in gaming. These characters are avatars, or cyphers, of the player themselves. Even the creation of these characters is now a core part of the gaming experience.

What does this tell us about ourselves? How might it unfold in the foreseeable future? Will we start to consider our actions in virtual MMORPG worlds as being on a par with other ‘real life’ experiences, in a way which we haven’t previously? More worryingly, do these games allow the commercial minds behind them to manipulate players morally or perhaps politically in ways not immediately evident? Should this phenomenon be seen as part of a wider trend to put ‘me’ at the centre of things (present in social media, the selfie and the rise of interactive theatre like Puchdrunk and Secret Cinema)?


Ibtisam Ahmed is a doctoral researched in the first year of his PhD with the School of Politics and IR at the University of Nottingham. His thesis is aimed at determining whether the British Raj can be studied as an attempt at political utopia, how it was conceptualised and how it was implemented. Included in his research is how imposing Victorian values impacted notions of culture, language, gender and sexuality. He hopes to challenge mainstream neoliberal views of Empire and utopianism by considering alternative narratives and silenced voices. His academic profile is at and his twitter handle is @Ibzor

David Bell is a writer, musician, artist and teacher interested in the concept and practice of utopia(nism); and more broadly in the relationship between affect, the commons/enclosure and place. Relatedly, he’s interested in the political/economic geographies of artistic practice and improvisation; critical pedagogy and popular education; the politics of (anti-/post-)work; and millenarianism and ruins. He completed his PhD in the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, University of Nottingham in 2013 and is currently based at the University of Sheffield.

Sonya Dyer is an artist, writer and occasional curator from London. Her research-based practice often utilises curatorial platforms and public events, as well as moving image. Her work is sometimes performative, and often involves working with people. Dyer is concerned with the intersections of art and politics, modes of social organisation, the utilisation of public space and ‘performing’ research in public. Her work explores how subjectivities and alliances are formed, particularly across cultures and disciplines. She has created a think tank, the …And Beyond Institute for Future Research as a means of developing an intersectional feminist Space programme generated by collective intellectual labour. Dyer is a MPhil/PhD candidate at Middlesex University.

Recent projects include ‘At the Intersections,’ Nottingham Contemporary and ‘Critical Waves’ on Resonance FM. She has been working on a commission at Primary as the ‘…And Beyond Institute for Future Research’ since January.

Sarah T Gold is a designer operating at the creative edge of emerging technologies and digital infrastructures. She is well known in the UK tech-scene for her pioneering work on the Alternet, a proposal for a civic network. Her work extends from the Alternet to imagine, build and test future web infrastructure and digital tools for a more democratic society. She is co-founder of WikiHouse Foundation, a Royal Society of the Arts Fellow and an Associate at CoLAB. Sarah sits on the advisory board for Tech For Good Global and co-facilitates the Personal Data and Trust Design Group at the Digital Catapult in London.

Tammy Nicholls studied Art History at UCL and has had a long career as a visual designer in the games industry. She works as a Graphic Design Lead for UK fantasy miniatures company Games Workshop. She has an interest in worldbuilding and the history, tools and philosophies concerned with the creation of imaginary worlds. She regularly speaks and runs workshops on the subject and is actively involved in the indie-gaming scene. Corporeally she lives and works in Nottingham while her mind is usually in some weird retro-futureverse. 

Kei Kreutler is a researcher, organiser and artist interested in open source development, applied autonomy, and networked practices for distributed communities. She currently contributes to the unMonastery project, which is now based in Athens, Greece and previously in Matera, Italy. unMonastery is a social innovation aimed at addressing the interlinked needs of empty space, unemployment and depleting social services by embedding committed, skilled individuals within communities that could benefit from their presence. Drawing inspiration from monastic rules and hackerspace design patterns, unMonastery seeks to release an open source toolkit in late 2015 to facilitate starting new unMonastery spaces and the possible futures of living together. Kei currently works on the project and its toolkit as an experimental researcher and coordinator while providing technical support.

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