Jaspar Joseph-Lester


< Back

Experiential Placemaking and the New Real

Experiential Placemaking and the New Real
Conference Paper
‘The State of the Real’ Conference
Glasgow School of Art

In a world that mediates everything through images, can reality, in any traditional sense of the word, be thought to have any meaning? Instead of the old divides that were thought to separate the original (essence) from the copy (appearance), representation has become inseparable from everyday praxis. As Noel Gabler describes in his book Life the Movie, it is not so much cinema that imitates life but life that imitates the movies. Simulacra, reproduction and the hyperreal have come to describe the new conditions of contemporary subjectivity. But, as many post-modern commentators have pointed out, these terms no longer refer to traditional notions of illusion. That is, illusion can no longer be understood as a counter to a supposedly more meaningful or authentic ‘reality’. The transition from production to new and advanced modes of reproduction has demanded a change in the way the copy, or more specifically, the copy without origin (simulacra) is thought. In architecture this problem has come to represent a new phase of retail design. In many American cities commercial retail outlets have joined up with the entertainment industry to build spaces that are designed to transport shoppers into something that resembles the set of a Hollywood film. With the help of new illusory technologies that which was only available in the cinema has been designed into massive shopping malls. The urban realisation of what was previously only imagined is known in architectural practice as “experiential placemaking”. In my paper I will be asking if it is now possible to understand the real as a movement of contradictory forces. If the commodification of space in the form of architectural placemaking might suggest ‘the state of the real’, and finally, if entertainment, architecture, shopping and the type of contradictions that they present to perception might bring us closer to the new realities of contemporary subjectivity.