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Bjørn Erik Haugen
Utopian Standard

Utopian Standard is a black banner with white text: «We could, and we might.» The Font used on the banner is «Utopia Std.» The work is best placed outside on a building, but cant also be mounted in a gallery space. The size of the work depends on the architecture or the space where it is put.

ntentions and thoughts for the piece

The thought behind the work is to show modern societies internalizes a potential fear and concern in its people. My opinion is that through creating fear and uncertainty one creates a people that is more easily for the politicians to govern. An example is how the western world fights terrorist cells and groups both in their own countries and in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, also the fear 9-11 has created over the world. We have the recent years seen how this incident has made it possible for modern societies to undermine democratic rights and principles in battle against the new threat.

The font used for the work is Utopia Standard. The intention using this font is to appropriate and use the title and show fear and violence through history has been utilizes as a tool for creating and realizing a Utopian society, an ideal state and a paradise on earth. ”The best of all possible worlds,” as Candide says in the book by Voltaire by the same name.

The text

The text says: «We could, and we might.» The content of the text is unclear, it suggests that someone can do something through that they are capable of doing something. The expression is ethically problematic since what one is capable of or can do is not reason enough for doing it.

The expression is meant to use the mechanics of terrorism and fear to show how this is created and to show what impact it makes on people. The Text has no clear source that creates an uncertainty whether the the sender may to be read politically or a stunt from somebody that does not have good intentions as their goal. On the other hand it can also be interpreted as a slogan or a call for people to make a better world or change, as Obama would have put it.

Background for Utopian Standard

Foucault has in his writings analyzed how institutions through power and knowledge, creates, and influences the structures of society and of peoples minds. In his book Discipline and Punishment, one of his main points is that in modern societies one turns from corporal punishment for an internal change of the person which also gives the possibility to control the person from within himself. This process or discourse starts in The Enlightenment:

«What was then being formed was a policy of coercions that act upon the body, a calculated manipulation of its elements, its gestures, its behaviour. The human body was entering a machinery of power that explores it, breaks it down and rearranges it. A ‘political anatomy’, which was also a ‘mechanics of power’, was being born; it defined how one may have a hold over others’ bodies, not only so that they may do what one wishes, but so that they may operate as one wishes, with the techniques, the speed and the efficiency that one determines. Thus discipline produces subjected and practiced bodies, ‘docile’ bodies.» – Foucault, Discipline and Punish p. 138.

Code Orange

After 9-11 critics have pointed on the politicians use of fear and worry in its aftermath. One can see a type politics of control and threat of democratic rights. It also has similarities to what earlier dystopian books of internalized control and surveillance, as for example in 1984 by George Orwell.

text by Bjørn Erik Haugen

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