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Below is the map of Utopia that we’re using to reimagine the sounds of Thomas More’s Utopia (you can click on it to enlarge it and take a closer look).

Pick your top 3 choices of grid square and let Stuart know what you’ve picked, and he’ll allocate one square to you.

Your task is then to create a soundscape imagining what that part of Utopia might sound like. You are free to use real-world field recordings, to treat this as a pure piece of sound design and to let your imagination run wild – there are no real rules. But we would like you to write a few words about your piece, what inspired you to hear this part of Utopia as you did.

The deadline for submitting final pieces is Friday 18 September. The maximum length is 20 minutes.

Some notes about the map you might find useful or interesting:

  • The map is a woodcut by Ambrosius Holbein from 1518, which illustrated the second edition of Utopia by Thomas More.
  • Utopia was the text that began the long tradition of utopian literature, which describes so-called perfect societies. More’s title is a pun, however – ‘ou’ is ‘not’ and ‘eu’ is good’, while ‘topos’ is place, so ‘Utopia’ could mean ‘good place’ but also ‘nowhere’.
  • Holbein reproduces the island just as described by More – 320 km across, crescent-shaped, with a large bay and river running across the centre.
  • If looked at in a certain way, the map resembles a human skull, possibly representing some of the inherent, deliberate contradictions in More’s text and acting as a memento mori. 
  • Utopia’s capital city to the north is called ‘Amaurotus’. whose name comes from the Greek for ‘shadowy’ or ‘unknown’.
  • Utopia’s river is called the Anydrus, also labelled on the map, with its source in a small waterfall (fons) and its mouth (ostium) also labelled.
  • The bottom left shows Utopia’s narrator, Raphael Hythlodaeus, named and in conversation with another unnamed character, likely to be Peter Gillies.
  • Three ships can be seen. On the left, one appears to be beached; on the right a boat moves along with a crew member indistinctly shown, and in the foreground a ship is at anchor, tense against a strong tidal current. A pennant carries the enigmatic device ‘NOR’.