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U Suite is: a dynamic novel told in stories; a series of immersive cinema-based installations and media murals; and an on-going conversation about the letter U. They all work together to form a new kind of book. You can read its chapters in any order you want.

U Suite was launched in 2006 at Images Festival in Toronto, and at the Holland Festival/International Film Festival Rotterdam in Amsterdam. So far it's traveled to Brooklyn, Jihlava, Victoria, Lennoxville, Winnipeg, Oberlin, Oberhausen, Chatham-Kent, and Halifax. U Suite will continue to evolve until the year 2020, you can watch it grow like a plant, or a child, or the dynamic world around you.




Say you're politically progressive, that you're working for a better world, or just seeing one in your utopian mind's eye. Or you really care but you don't know what to do – and you think about this every day. Or you give money, 10% of your not giant salary, or a buck here and there even though you're close to broke yourself. Or you're a generous, big-hearted person who's always there for people, always helping, to a fault (secretly, it takes a toll). Or you can't watch the news because it's so deeply sad, but you try to read the feature articles so you're informed and can vote well. Or, your hero's Nelson Mandela and you model yourself on him, but sometimes it's hard.

Any of these might mean you're also looking straight at some of the world's problems, bravely, and unflinchingly. Maybe you're seeking out these problems to get to know them better. Maybe for years on end. Maybe you've even become an expert on 'your problem' and it's engulfed your life!

So how do you maintain enough hope to get out of bed in the morning?




Q: What's an 'empathy deficit'? Do you agree with Obama and Oprah, that this is a mark of our time?

I've met people who can't seem to see anyone else. I guess they're just addled, or exhausted, or they've got nothing-but-nothing left. Or maybe it's a kind of secret depression – they've got 'despair disorder'. In some people, it's like they're gone, but you can't mourn their departure. And if you need them, if you want to be close to them, this can hurt a lot.

What do you do when whole cultures are built around I, and how do you reverse this – how do you bring people back?

There are a lot of important issues in the world today, but sometimes I think it would help EVERYTHING if we could just see each other...

I can see U baby!




Q:  Why do we maintain hope, against all logic? Or put another way, why do we remain utopian?

Humanity’s ability to hope is one of its most fascinating qualities. Each new generation brings a fresh supply, and even people who have suffered unimaginable traumas can often rekindle their hope against all odds. In fact, it can be argued that hope is essential to human life (or conversely, that the profound depression that’s increasingly common around the world is the loss of sufficient hope). Despite recent history and on-going tragedies, many of us still hope ardently, some would say innocently, for even civic solutions to our ills, still believing in the possibility of creating a utopian society, with love and wealth for all (or at least a much greater sharing of these: food, hope, shelter, clean water and air).




Q:  What is utopia?

Utopia is no longer a destination, it’s a process, it is movement itself – in the literal sense, as a core formal element of moving image art (to be approached as if in a musical composition, so that all elements, whether visual or audible, are heard) – and in the figurative sense: as in progressive politics, our r/evolutionary mandate, and our legacies of idealism coupled to engines of radical change. Central to this effort is a questioning and exploration of the common idea that formal exploration and political engagement are somehow contradictory: a renewed utopianism asserts that form is politics, there is no separation between the two, and working with them together produces energy, explosive cultural tension and movement forward.




Q:  Are we now 'post-utopian'?

If I spent the year filming and recording the cosmopolis of Toronto in the tradition of Joris Ivens’ 'Regen' ('Rain'), but instead depicted a day of snowfall, how would the resulting work situate itself in relation to contemporary art and ideas in this early 21st century? In 1929 'Regen' was considered a breakthrough in avant garde cinema, but 'Snow' would be a work of nostalgia, perhaps comforting and attractive, but without sufficient gusto, political purpose, or conceptual depth.

And if I wrote a utopian manifesto today, it would be seen as from the past, from that last century when we careened back and forth through decade after decade from idealistic heights to utter catastrophe, when we were held captive by binary thought and fear of the other (the other ideology/philosophy/hypothesis/dark man on the sidewalk).

Yet there exists a window of opportunity, in the early days of this century, to develop a new spirit of the age. We are bruised and pragmatic, but we are in fact still utopian. But we want tools that work this time! In our mind’s eye we see heart and mind and soul and earth and city and country and the beloved and the hated learning to live together, finally. We still believe we can do it, one leap at a time.