This Is Not A City



“Shall we come to a reality like this visioned city of the Future?”
Fritz Lang, Metropolis

Abigale’s research for her residency at The Telfer Gallery will journey through visions of the city. Utopian and dystopian, the imaginary urban is a complex universe of opposites, not much unlike the real cities we live in today. As sites of civil progress and technological advancement, it is no surprise that the city is a landscape most frequented by science fiction authors, who often imply that our habitation of them is the ultimate finality.

“The City is as old as time and continuous with it.”
J.G Ballard, The Concentrated City

Using the model of the science fiction novel, Abigale will specifically focus on how these visions are articulated through language, and how the built environment is as much a product of the mind as it is an extraneous phenomenon. The city can be seen as a kind of language, and like language, it is a constructed means of imposing rationality upon the world. If this language can be refracted through the lens of fictional alternatives, can different perspectives be generated? If so, the author assumes a responsibility, imbued with the power to manipulate reality, as Ballard suggests, “it is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel – the writer’s task is to invent the reality”.

This is not a city. This is a mind-scape, a digital network, a microcosm, a morphopolis. This is at once the past, the present and the future. This is both real and un-real, fiction and actuality, utopian, dystopian and heterotopian.

Abigale will host a series of interactive events over the course of her residency, including; an online ’round table’ discussion in which invitees will contribute to conversations surrounding this subject, a live and dynamic conversation curated in partnership with Scottish Book Trust for Edinburgh Art Festival 2015.

27 August 2015:
This Is Not A City:
The Telfer Gallery & Abigale Neate-Wilson at Edinburgh Art Festival 2015
This event will reflect how the urban environment is mapped through language, and how this language is mutating as a result of contemporary techno-culture.
Speakers are:

Ken MacLeod
Ken MacLeod is one of the most significant Scottish writers to emerge from science fiction in the last twenty years. His novels have won the Prometheus Award and the BSFA Award, and been shortlisted for the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Loaded with satirical wit, his stories are complex explorations of future politics, bio-ethics and technology, casting a modern eye on the utopian form. He lives and works in Edinburgh.

Dr Sarah Lappin
Dr Sarah Lappin (BA Columbia, MArch Princeton, PhD University of Ulster, RIBA) is an architect who teaches in the school of planning, architecture and civil engineering at Queens University Belfast. She is co-founder of the All-Ireland Architectural Research Group, and is the current chair of the Steering Group of the Architectural Humanities Research association. Outside of her research into identity and architectural history of the twentieth century, she co-directs the project Recomposing the City with Dr. Gascia Ouzounian. This project invites the sonic arts into urban spaces, addressing the power of collaborative engagement between sound artists and architects to produce new design and practices of spatial understanding.

Johnny Rodger
Johnny Rodger is a Professor of Urban Literature at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow.  He is a published author of both fiction and critical writing, a frequent contributor to architectural press and a founding editor of The Drouth (2001), Scotland’s literary arts quarterly. His field of enquiry engages with a cross-disciplinary criticism of architectural and social space, literary analysis and the layers of civic, historic and political structures that form Scottish cities. He has also collaborated with composers, animators and musical theatre, including work with National Youth Theatre of Scotland (2011) and the Scottish Opera (2006).



Studio work in the form of prints and publications which will be developed to support this period of research. The culmination of this research project will be presented at The Telfer Gallery in early 2016.

2015 Programme Artist in Residence: Abigale Neate-Wilson
2nd Feb 2015 -
29th Jan 2016