Utopia: A New Society for All brings virtual reality into the real world. Born from the artist’s desire to build community, Utopia exists both as a 4-by-7-foot diorama-based installation and as a conceptual art piece. Real people apply to become citizens of Utopia. Upon their acceptance, artist and Utopia Founder and Facilitator Becky Wareing Steele renders each applicant in 1:160 scale in a process called miniaturization. She then places them within the Southwest-inspired landscape of the diorama where they inhabit an Earthship-style dwelling.
Citizenship in Utopia comes with democratic responsibility. Decisions like what new communal buildings to construct or what crops to grow—community center or greenhouse? Sweet potatoes or corn?—are all decided by vote. Over 80 people from all over the world have already become citizens of Utopia.
As much a thought experiment as an art installation, Utopia explores what it means to live in community. By scaling down the world it is the artist’s intent to make solutions to complex issues seem more attainable. Her work asks us to contemplate a number of questions: How do we build community? What are the building blocks of a successful society? Is a Utopia attainable?
About the Artist
Becky Wareing Steele is an artist living and working in Denver, Colorado specializing in small scale sculpture. Her work deals with the commonalities that exist in our shared experiences through the examination of scale and environment. Through her sculptural and photographic work with 1:160 scale figures and 1:12 scale objects and structures she explores the impact of scale and how it effects our perception of the world around us. This impact can also be found in the way we perceive ourselves in our environment. By scaling objects down to a more palatable size the viewer is able to take in more complex issues and narratives conveyed through the work in a way that feels inclusive.
Wareing Steele holds a BA in Art History from Colorado State University with a focus on Intuit Art. https://beckywareingsteele.com/utopia/
Photo credits: Daira Dundov