Collaboration: conversation with Chris Emerson

I recorded this conversation then wrote it out when I listened to it:


Julia: What if everyone was earning the same hourly rate, no matter what their job is?

Julia: (reading a text from Justine Smith) We all get the same and we all get to use and nurture particular talents and also have spells doing more duller work. Utopia; it’s all spelt out by Thomas Moor.

Julia: The short improvisation film that we make could be as if that change had happened and exploring the good and bad aspects of what that’s like?

Chris: So we’re trying to imagine utopia?

Julia: If you imagine utopia and you get to utopia, it’s not going to be perfect because we’re in the world and nothing can be perfect. So, once you get to Utopia there’ll be aspects that aren’t right with it, people won’t like it or whatever so then…


there’ll be a new vision of utopia.

Chris: So are we in utopia now? How would you know if you’re in utopia?

Julia: You know when you arrive on a train in a station… maybe there would be a sign up somewhere…

Chris: You’re here. Welcome to Utopia. The future is here now but it’s not as good as you thought it was going to be.

Julia: Setting goals or dreams, when you get there you do need to set another goal or dream or you’re like, oh, now what? [In the film] In England there’s an hourly rate that everyone gets no matter what their job is. How does that affect how we live?

Chris: Quite significantly, I would have thought… who would clean the toilets?

Julia: It’s hard to imagine ‘cos we’re in this reality and money plays such a big part of it and also the worship of money like having more money is seen as a norm or like that’s what everyone should want.

Chris: If everyone’s equal then how would land be distributed?

Julia: Unless we bring it closer. Maybe it hasn’t already happened or maybe it’s just happened and so there are going to be teething problems probably, like rich people are still gonna live in big houses maybe or have 2 or 3 houses and people who were classed as poor maybe don’t have their own house.

Chris: Or what if there’s just one big reset like maybe a meteor or something hits the earth and then it doesn’t matter what your status is, rich or poor, you don’t have a choice. You’re reassigned a bit of land to live on and cultivate or a profession. Could be any profession and your skills and experience aren’t taken into any account at all.

Julia: I like the idea of a reset. Maybe not so much a disaster happening to do it because that would also involve trauma and people recovering from the trauma and working that stuff out. I’d like it to be like it was a decision that [is unanimous].


Julia: This is also based on our conversation the other night… I was talking about transparency – that has to work hand in hand with it. Transparency of government. It needs to be an informed decision that has been made by everyone in the country and we have to imagine that has happened.

Chris: What does it look like?

Julia: Because it’s just happened we’re all still living in the same places that we’re living in. Loads of people are gonna be questioning what they’re doing, job-wise, especially in corporate places where there are loads of shareholders who, up until now, most of the money has gone to them. But they’ve been aware this change has been coming because everyone in the country has been involved in making the change. They will have things in place. They’ll have had discussions. All the corporate entities will become social enterprises. There’s going to be an agreed hourly rate. All the people who earned more than that will obviously take a drop. All the people who earned below that will get a raise.

Chris: Almost for this to be effective you have to throw away the notion of corporations and jobs as we know them ‘cos they can’t map from one world to the other. The very concept of a shareholder wouldn’t exist in this world.

Julia: So what would their roles be?

Chris: Well, they wouldn’t exist. A shareholder didn’t exist a thousand years ago.


Julia: But we’re imagining that it’s just taking place. The shareholders are gonna be questioning their roles as well. Like, what do they do now?

Chris: Well, how would they find out? Would they get a letter through the post?

Julia: No, no. They would have been involved in the decision making. There would have been consensus. There are certain conditions that will allow this change to take place and I don’t know what they are but those conditions in this imaginary film have been met.


Later in the conversation we agreed a location: a derelict building at Devil’s Dyke, some props: two chairs, a chess board and a tent. When I listened to the conversation I decided to take a sign with the word “Utopia” on it too.


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