AAC #2 Proposal for an Imaginist Butlins

Professor Scott King, UAL Chair of Visual Communication invited the postgraduate student members of his Autonomous Arts Club to participate in the event 'A Proposal for an Imaginist Butlins' for the Cultures of Resilience Exchange Programme curated by Chair of Design for Social Innovation Professor Ezio Manzini.

AAC invitation to participate:

"The notion of play can only escape the linguistic and practical confu- sion surrounding it by being considered in its movement. After two cen- turies of negation by the continuous idealization of production, the primitive social functions of play are presented as no more than decaying relics mixed with inferior forms that proceed directly from the neces- sities of the current organization of production. At the same time, the progressive tendencies of play appear in relation to the development of these very forces of production.’ Internationale Situationniste #1 (June 1958). 

We live in an increasingly leisure orientated society (coffee ‘boutiques’ where shops once were, art galleries where industry once was, shopping as a pastime and social activity, people working from home). The original Butlins holiday camp model accommodated most aspects of life (housing, entertainment, childcare, dining) with an almost military rigidity; the only part of ‘real life’ that was not covered was ‘work’. Here, we shall discuss if or how a leisure-oriented ‘society’ like Butlins could provide a realistic, sustainable template for the model of a new society that values ‘play’ over ‘work’. 

Apart from the fact that we may already be living in this utopian model (by turns, a dystopian psychologically gated environment, where social immobility and forced play have increasingly become pervasive – a situation in which we have learnt to enjoy our incarceration and alienation), the ‘Proposal for an Imaginist Butlins’ attempts to produce critical awareness and practical creative solutions to living in contemporary Britain". 

Participants were asked to ‘flesh-out’ a new social model. To imagine, if taken to the logical extreme of a Neo-Butlins society, would money and trade be done away with completely in favor of self-sufficiency in a feudal model? Would all chalets have allotments?  Would adults undertake voluntary work on the site farm?  Would there be a degree of trading with other communities?  Would farms and craft goods be presented and ‘hobbies’ rather than ‘industry’.  Or are other alternatives available? The emphasis was primarily on ‘play’ and the ethos was to turn all work into pro- ductive ‘play’.