Deep Freedom (2016) – generative sound installation for the Utopia 2040 – Reclaiming the Future exhibition, the Kluuvi shopping centre, Helsinki FI

Deep Freedom (2016) is a generative sound installation and music composition, created for the Utopia 2040 – Reclaiming the Future exhibition in the Kluuvi Shopping Centre in Helsinki, Finland, in May 2016.

The exhibition operated as a “utopia café” – an active meeting, working and presentation space for the public and exhibitors (a collective of various experts, researchers and artists) alike. Through series of design fictions as well as debates, it focused on the prospect of serious utopias – futures that are desirable, viable and achievable.

“Come to see design fiction of everyday life in 2040 and hear histories of the future. Of course, you can also rewrite them and gather building blocks for your own utopia. Did we achieve global peace, food security and social protection for everyone? What do you want from the future society, what are your desirables? You can also study the background materials informing our work and participate in events and debates.”

The exhibition was conceived and organised by the ARKI research group and the students of its Redesign of Society study programme at Aalto University’s Media Lab 2015-16.

Deep Freedom contemplates the idea of a new global narrative and “spiritual” revolution that would replace religions and neoliberalism as our defining belief systems. It draws on the book The Religion of the Future by philosopher and Harvard law professor Roberto Mangabeira Unger, in which he argues for a religious revolution that dispenses with the concept of God and elements of the supernatural, and expands individual and collective human empowerment through revised social and political structures; designs that enable life of creativity, risk, experiment, cooperation and meaningful personal connection, offering a heightened, intensified, and more meaningful life in the present (a condition he calls ‘deep freedom’).

Deep Freedom imagines this possible condition through creative freedom enabled by the medium of sound, by providing an abstract and more timeless space of listening, thinking and becoming. The piece consists of recordings of various religious sounds from different cultures, transformed and reimagined electronically and projected into the year 2040. The composition is generative in nature: it is constantly and infinitely self-organizing, yet sustaining a unified characteristic throughout. This living nature as well as its slowly unfolding arrangement derive their inspiration from the idea of ecology (where things emerge through interactions at the bottom rather than hierarchically from the top) and the concept of deep time.

The piece was diffused into a dedicated, vacant area in the exhibition space through a Panphonics sound shower installed discreetly in the ceiling, thus being audible only in that specific area without disrupting the overall sonic ambience and visual aesthetic.

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