I recently had a tutorial with my tutor and showed him my spreadsheet analysing the colours of the shopping centre. Whilst he liked the idea of the investigation into retail environments and the way that colour was being used to quantify an experience, he believed that the colours shown from these images, as they were images pulled from the internet were more the colours of the internet rather than colours denoting the shopping centre experience. These colours didn’t quantify a single unified view or experience of the shopping centre as they were taken from multiple viewpoints, both for publicity and just as a document of retail architecture, with converging and arguably disagreeable intentions.
He suggested, instead of using secondary images, I should carry on with the premise of the investigation but instead visit the shopping centres myself, and take the images as documentation of my trips. I do agree that this may provide more successful outcomes, as I believe having a first hand experience will create a more rounded, and personal investigation as I have expended my own time travelling to these shopping centres, therefore have a more personal stake and tie to the data collected. In addition, I can take on the role of the investigator, much like in the work of Sophie Calle, personally looking into the environments themselves and having an experience in all of them. This will allow me to cast a critical eye over whether the intentions of each retail space are being met from the perspective of a shopper, allowing me to question: does this environment persuade me to consume? Does this environment provide a shopping experience or lesuire/destination one?
I will start with shopping centres near me such as The Oracle in Reading, and then travel to different shopping centres in the UK further away from home. I intend to document my process with images and writings describing the my experience within the space, and thus when I look at the colour grades each shopping centre produces I can link this to my distinct personal experience of the space.
As detailed previously after my tutorial feedback, I decided to switch the focus of my colour investigation from using internet-found secondary images, to using primary images based on my own travels to different retail outlets. My investigation followed rules as follows:
- I will visit as many shopping centres as possible.
- I will spend at least two to three hours in each shopping centre, more if necessary.
- I will take exactly 50 images in each shopping centre, to act as my data set to find my average colour from
- These images will be of the architecture of the shopping centre itself, but if a particular object/space/place within the shopping centre takes my interest during the trip I may photograph this.
Here are some example images documented from each shopping centre investigation:
The Oracle, Reading
MacArthur Glen Designer Outlet, Swindon
Westfield Shopping Centre, Shepherds Bush, London
One New Change, St Pauls, London
After collating these images, I ran them through the se program as before, and foratted this information into
‘You see I am here after all’ (2008)
‘You see I am here after all’ (2008)
In Zoe Leonard’s work, rigid classification becomes the medium of the work. Her sympathy for the lost arts of postcards (‘You see I am here after all’) and lost signs of communities (‘Analogue’), display a longing for relics of a past just lost, and through her forms of classification she lays these objects to rest, as in their factoring and ordering they become part of history, only classified as they cn be viewed as a whole, they are not still growing but merely just beginning to diminish. She fights against a sense of loss for these objects, rather filing them into set groups in order to establish an order reminiscent of the hierarchal ordering in ethnographic museums. These are not the objects of our distant ancestors, but they do begin to feel impossibly archaic once grouped and displayed in the way that Leonard organises them.
In her work, ‘You see I am here after all’ (2008), she displays thousands of postcards of Niagra Falls, each slightly different in position to the waterfall, and groups them dependent on their perspective, and displays them in a proportional relationship to this geography on the walls of the gallery. I am interested in this use of space as a means of exploring and displaying the data of the investigation, as my work also features space, in particular spaces, and I would like to great some sort of geographical impact on the space to match the geographies explored in my own investigations.
In addition, I am very interested in the way she classifies images, using the act of classification as the means of creating the art. The viewer understanding the means and methods of classification is inherent to the understanding of the work, not only in understanding how they have been classified, but also understanding what classification means in terms of releasing an out-of-date object to the beatification of history. In my own practice classification lies at the heart of the art, as I confine my own experience to a previously created system of wrangling data and ensuring that the information of my experience can be viewed an experienced in an accessible fashion. I want to take inspiration to the methodical and considered approach that Leonard has used to classify my images, and therefore produce a work with a rigid conceptual framework in which the viewer has to become accustomed.