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Re: <eyebeam><blast> Re: formatting
Could you give us an example of one of your "site plans" for cultural
habits or production protocols? Also what is the value of having it
presented not as art, but behind the mask of the business man? Curious
to know your reasoning, because the distinction is an important one for
artists and media practioners who experiment with these roles. Whether
to engage the language of business in order to generate some space of
critique, or simply to work within it in some generative way, whether in
terms of theater, installation, etc.
In the context of your example of the relationships between the
protocols, formats, and systems of technology/commerce and those of the
built retail environment: I'm thinking of the differences between the
"power center" of superstores that you describe and the example of the
urban entertainment center. One night, driving through New Jersey on
the way into Manhattan, we passed through a strip of huge superstores.
Traffic was moving slowly and it seemed to last forever, this strip,
brightly lit with intoxicating neon, seeming like some bizarre feeding
channel elsewhere, some sort of routing complex that is only a stopover,
while being wholly a destination itself. Very welcoming in a perverse
way, somehow strangely appealing. It has no pretense to be anything
other that what it is.
And then there is the urban entertainment center, where these stores are
bundled with specialized entertainment attractions, especially
new-generation cinema complexes, theme restaurants, and rides. (They
actually refer to this process as "bundling.") There's City Walk in LA
and of course Las Vegas and Disney World and their many spinoffs, with
many more on the horizon.
What's curious is how the shopper is figured, how it becomes part of the
feedback loop in terms of both presence and telepresence. The urban
entertainment center (UEC) tracks physical movements of shoppers and
patterns of commercial transactions including buying habits. It is part
of larger consumer research circuits that produce endless volumes of
realtime and delayed demographics, continually fed back into the
structure of commerce itself, intersecting with physical space in
diverse ways. And the bundled building-interfaces (garish, photoshopped
constructions) ensure a multitasking activity that we've gotten used to
through the computer interface and the tv channel-switcher, ensuring
that we're never bored because nothing is only one thing for long.
Multi-use constructions for short attention spans, activated through
ever-narrowing time frames and new patterns of movement that correspond
How do people move through these, how to these see and activate these
spaces? How is perception formatted and aligned with buying modes. How
is the buying body seen and figured through statistical compulations? I
think of de Certeau here and how we can never see the pubic as
controlled, its habits determined in any way, because there are always
spaces that erupt that we don't expect, fascinating new worlds. I'm not
so much interested in resisting consumerism per se than in knowing these
rich new worlds. If we (as cultural producers/critics) don't seek this,
but fall back into anti-market positions, then we risk losing the
capacity to speak to a new generation, as well as the capacity to
understand how contemporary subjectivity is defined through consumerism.
Sorry, I've rambled on long enough. To back up for a moment: I think
of the difference between the megastore power strips and the UECs:
Driving through the megastore strip in the car, I see monstrous entities
that are accessed mostly from elsewhere. The store that I see is mostly
a "hub." You pull in and out of it in car, on foot, by phone, by mail,
by web. And it offers itself honestly to this hybridity, a big hulking
building/hub with a minimum of architectural adornment.
The UEC, on the other hand, is promiscuous, offering itself up to the
lurid desires, with garish flickering neon, the center - never really
wholly one architectural package - shifting from one mode to another
like the stacking and shifting of computer windows. Location-based
entertainment, a concentration, a mega-XX-plex, which tries to be
everything itself. A big difference in how they are
activated/traversed, what they contain, and their "circles of draw."
And their relationship to their urban locales: the superstore is
"dropped" into a space with a minimum of aesthetic concern; the UEC
tries to create, or recreate, urban space in its own image, bending it
to its own ends. The UEC masquerades as improved urbanism, safer
(physically and comercially), more convenient, and quicker. Its design
makes its outside -- it's 'offline,' the surrounding urban space -- look
dangerous, dirty, and shabby.
A related question: what kind of public space is inside (not outside)
these structures and systems, and what might be the role of artistic
practice in the facilitation of that space?
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