I’ve just finished reading Dougkas Rushkoff’s book, Life Inc. In it he talks primarily about the way in which corporate culture has come to dominate the world and suggests a few ways we can try to challenge it. It has given me lots to think about, but there are a number of places where the things he writes about remind me of the ideas which attracted me to base my art work around cities.
Birkdale Village in North Carolina looks at first glance like any other town. This settlement didn’t grow and develop naturally though. It is the result of a master plan. A model village. A simulacrum, to put it into Goldsmiths language.
There is a scene in The Game, David Fincher’s film starring Michael Douglas, where the price tag on a lamp starts to catch fire from the heat of the bulb. Once he realises that the lamp in this seemingly lived in apartment has never been used, the rest of his reality starts to tumble around him.
I imagine that living in Birkdale Village creates a similar feeling. A suspicion that behind every olde worlde facade is a studio back lot. That the people walking past you in the street are merely playing a role and go home to their real lives at the end of the day. In fact, it turns out many of them do after a hard days shopping.
This idea of the city as film set or stage is something that I have come back to a few times. Sometimes it has been a place for creating games of chance, trying to identify the rules that make it work. Searching for the underlying script.
At other times this otherness has closed down the possibilities for interaction with the city or its inhabitants. The city is pushed back away from the viewer who can never really engage with it.
The free time I’m going to have over the next couple weeks should give me a chance to revisit some of these ideas and hopefully develop them further.