“Reality cannot exist without fiction and illusion”. So, our group has provided the illusion, through our artefact that promulgates a fiction: The recollection of the space that once was the shopping mall.
This interstitial land between giddy consumerism and utopic social environment still exists, but as the understood real world inferior to its online counterpart. But it is online where the shopping mall lives most vibrantly. And this digital life exposes and heightens the fictions that always were at the cornerstone of the shopping mall. Baudrillard said, the ‘system of signs [have] come to replace reality’, describing how simulation of reference points in ‘reality’ become reference points themselves. Virtually, the shopping mall has grown into a space of time-travelling wish fulfillment, indulgence in rampant consumerist urges tied to the absurdity of a retrospective view of an optimistic future, a space to bury ones face in mother’s coat tails.
It is a mythology being written before the eulogy comes, fixing ‘a plethora of truth, of secondary objectivity, and authenticity’ (Baudrillard again), writing the legend of its hayday with the underlying truth borne out by the emotions of recollection.
With our artefact, we examine these emotions. The empty scenery provides a digital analogue of a shopping mall that is recognisable to all, but the existence of the ‘reality’ of it relies on its exploration and an inquisition into the purpose of such a space. When the narrative chain breaks and the implied purpose is lost, such as in a closed shopping mall that we show through the state changes through Day/Evening/Night, we become aware of the fictions embedded within the structure, and start to question the veracity of our surroundings.
Liminal space memes rely on this disconnect between the viewer and environment. That precipical point where the world becomes both magical and artificial, an antipode of the hyperreal state such that is engaged with within the living mall. As Eugene Arva states: ‘Paradoxically, the “murder of the Real” (Baudrillard’s phrase) does not occur in a world of imagination, illusion, and magic, but in a world devoid of them.’ We are able to see the underlying reality of the spaces around us, as well as the fictions embedded within them, when we become disconnected. With our simulation, the viewer engages in the referential representation of a shopping mall and then further fictionalises this representation, breaking that referent with reality by exposing the viewer to those underlying fictions: The busy shopping centre noises give way to the reverb heavy memory music of mallsoft and then to the quiet of an empty, uncared-for space. The sound of a vacuum plays in the distance and is revealed to be a Caution:Wet floor sign. Shops that are joking references to real life stores, or bizarre galleries close down and advertise their redundancies.
The project has been fun to work on and I am very happy with the result as it is so far with just the presentational video left to go.