The Aesthetics of Utopia: Creation, Creativity and a Utopian Theory of Design

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Abstract

This article combines critical, visual and aesthetic theory to argue that the very act of design is a Utopian process. Crucially, the Utopian dimension is not simply a matter of subject matter or utility. Rather, it lies in the act of formal arrangement and composition, and therefore can apply to visual texts with no apparent subject matter at all. The argument is grounded in Ernst Bloch’s critical theory of Utopia, which sees Utopia as a process rather than a destination. It is illustrated with a case study of Navajo weaving, in tandem with an analysis of Navajo creation mythology. It concludes by arguing that we need to go beyond creation theory to a critical theory of creativity. Utopia is not something that we can delegate either to nature or to the supernatural because, as Bloch declares in The Spirit of Utopia, ‘Life has been put into our hands’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-61
Number of pages21
JournalThesis Eleven
Volume123
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

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