Remembering and forgetting in consumerism

Temple, Nicholas (2021) Remembering and forgetting in consumerism. In: Transacting as art, design and architecture: a non-commercial market. Intellect, Bristol, pp. 189-201. ISBN 9781789384437

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Abstract / Description

The experience of the consumerist environment in contemporary society is so pervasive and intrusive in our daily lives (through mass advertising, internet shopping and the corporatisation of civic spaces) that it is difficult to appreciate its peculiarly and uniquely modern characteristics. What distinguishes these from earlier forms of commercial activity and transaction, whether in the ancient or early modern worlds, is the manner in which consumerism today creates conditions of amnesia – situations of individual and collective forgetfulness – which are reinforced by the insularity and placelessness of its built form. In this paper I attempt to demonstrate how this phenomenon is manifested spatially through the development of the modern shopping mall and commercial street. The creation of large retail zones in cities and out-of-town mega-complexes for mass consumerism invokes a certain pathological behavior among the general public. This is revealed in the innate ‘passivity’ of modern consumerism – its tendency to be experienced as a form of ‘therapy’ in urban and suburban life - in contrast to the participatory involvement of consumers/shoppers in the civic and religious spaces of pre-modern marketplaces. In summary, the paper examines consumerism through the history of markets, with specific focus on how they have served various social and cultural functions, from Renaissance fairs (located in the heart of cities) to the contemporary out-of-town shopping mall.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This publication derives from a research project and associated events (entitled Critical Practice Chelsea) in 2015, funded by Arts Council England, and Lottery Funding.
Uncontrolled Keywords: marketplace, shopping mall, arcades, amnesia, retail environment, memoricide, Walter Benjamin, civic space, monetary transaction.
Subjects: 100 Philosophy & psychology
100 Philosophy & psychology > 170 Ethics
100 Philosophy & psychology > 190 Modern western philosophy
200 Religion
200 Religion > 240 Christian moral & devotional theology
200 Religion > 270 History of Christianity & Christian church
300 Social sciences
300 Social sciences > 390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
700 The arts; fine & decorative arts
700 The arts; fine & decorative arts > 710 Civic & landscape art
700 The arts; fine & decorative arts > 720 Architecture
900 History & geography > 940 History of Europe
Department: The School of Art, Architecture and Design
Depositing User: Nicholas Temple
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2020 15:12
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2024 15:14


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