Heron Corn Mill
United Kingdom

Travelling from site to site, whilst been mooted as pioneers of the future inevitably comes with a sense of excpectation, yet upon first impressions you may be disappointed by the tarpaulin shelters and apparent basic facilities resembling something of a geometric shanty town, a somewhat disappointing reality to your utopian visions. Yet rather than resting on our imaginative fuelled ‘visions’ rather like traveller Raphael Hythloday (Hythloday is a Geodecian family name) in Sir Tomas More’s Utopia in which he describes an imaginary utopian island. The Geodecity project looks to create these visions into a realist reality, as an ongoing proposition the project explores the relationship between utopian ideals and the reality of individuals working together to build a collective identity through a new community. Riddled with cross references, to past utopian visions and ideologies, Nottingham based collective Reactor have instigated the experiment of practically exploring the realities of a real world utopian vision.

Undertaking a series of visits to sites around the country in which various members of the Geodecian community gather. The Geodecity projects arrived at Cumbria’s Heron Corn Mill continuing the development of constructing a collective identity known as the Geodecian community. Whilst Heron Mill’s Watching TV by candlelight music and arts festival presented the opportunity for the Geodecity project to open its site to external visitors. Situated on the edge of the festivals perimeter the Geodecity project acts as an odd kind of leech, once attracted visitors are lured to sign up as the community continually seeks internal growth. The one day event allowed visitors to explore the Geodecian community developments to date; whilst the additional developments of solar powered cooking and an eco friendly attitude tied the event in nicely with Heron Mills Candlelight Festival. Whilst gaining an insight into the structure both living and ideological that the Geodecian community currently bide by.

Instigated in August 2007 within a disused quarry in rural Leicestershire, the Geodecity project began with a group of 50 people from Midlands’s cities Nottingham, Leicester and Derby gathering for a 24 hour period. This group participated in a series of visioning sessions that laid out various foundations from which the project would work from, as the Geodecity project started its progression into the community as it exists today. Whilst the project has attracted few new Geodecian’s to its community since its initiation, the project is finding it difficult to attract new audiences willing to hand over time and ‘old-world’ mindsets. An online Wiki has allowed the existing group to explore and suggest new developments which are then implemented within future events. However the lack of sustained commitment from the majority presents the issue of how a community makes decisions as a collective if the whole collective aren’t making those choices?

The Geodecity Project, invited by Ganghut and the Scottish Sculpture Workshop will undertake a month long residency in rural Aberdeenshire towards the end of June. The residency will provide the project with its longest stay in one location, enabling Geodecian’s to reflect upon the project to date, however more importantly this time allows a substantial period of development as the project looks to build, and decide upon its future.

Since 2002 Nottingham based collective Reactor have initiated an active history of developing projects that allow their audience to become active participants within the projects frameworks, previous projects include; GHAOS (2003-05) a complex two year project in which Reactor created a microcosmic society in which participants become active followers through a series of events by handing over constructed responsibility to their audience. The Geodecity project continues Reactors practice in exploring the act of community building, yet attempts to explore previously uncharted boundaries, by attempting to eventually remove their support, creating a community of participants that support themselves without Reactors continuing instigation. Whether this is an act too far, and whether the project can generate that ideology to an extent that the participants act upon their own accord, remains to be seen.

As the project gathers speed through various events, Reactor need to monitor how much they are instigating in comparison to the response from the existing community, ensuring that the collective identity is developed by engineering situations in which the group respond rather than the instigator putting the decisions in place and everyone following suit.