Artist Statement

Autumn Assessment 2017, Studio, Studio 3, Uncategorized

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The influence that a retail environment can exert over the perceived free will of the consumer disrupts our sense of absolute consumer choice and ability to see ourselves as individuals. The absolutism of the individual is disrupted, as one can be coerced into acting and interacting with commercial spaces in the way that an architect has intended for you. I am interested in how these manipulations manifest themselves within the mind of the individual, and how the experience of the shopping centre as a destination relate to its ‘unique’ sense of highly designed space.

My work was focused on an investigation of the average colour of four different shopping locations within the South of England. I carried out my investigation by travelling to each of the different locations and engaging with the spaces, acting as a shopper, tracing the steps that were intended for me by the directors of the retail space. I documented the retail environments by taking photographs in each location, which I then analysed to find the most prominent colours of each image, combining these to find the average colour of each retail environment.

I wanted to explore colour as a means of analysing the perceived successfulness of the space by the shopper. Colour has an intrinsic tie to emotion, and therefore by quantifying the experience of the space to an assigned average colour, one can experience an emotional account of my travelling investigation purely through colour, without needing to experience the space physically, as it becomes a unifying device of measurement.

I was influenced by the writings Walter Benjamin, in particular ‘The Arcades Project’ (1927-40). Benjamin used this literary collage to describe the full scope of the experience of the Parisian Arcades, from their history, to the merchants and characters that occupied them. Benjamin wrote, “The arcade is a street of lascivious commerce only; it is wholly adapted to arousing desires”; this concept of a romantic place being intrinsically tied to the system of commodity seems an antagonistic binary, however the liaison of desire and commerce still conquers today, as we stroll through our contemporary shopping centres. This prompted me to investigate this relationship between how the form of the space is manipulated for the creation of commodity exchange.

Sharon Kivland’s work has also greatly influenced my practice; ‘La forme-valeur’ (2006) explored a particular shade of pink used for the scent ‘Allure’ by Chanel, as a background to printed quotes from Marx’s ‘Capital Vol. I’. This work debates the fetishism of colour and its ability to entice the viewer and illicit an emotional response, in order to facilitate an exchange of consumer goods. This inspired me to investigate colour myself, using colour as a means of identification and classification, but also of seduction, exploring why colour is chosen within commercial contexts to illicit fetishist responses to the commodity.

Furthermore, I was influenced by Susan Hiller, in particular her work, ‘Dedicated to the Unknown Artists’ (1972-76), as she catalogued postcards of the British seaside through a distinct table format. Inspired by this classification of data through the form of a table, I decided to use excel to conglomerate all of my data, and form a table which shows how the vary between images. I like the format of a table to display data, as its inherent duplicity between ease of use and overwhelming wealth of information at once captivates and consumes the attention of the viewer, hoping to transform their understanding of the data into a perceived experience.

My work’s method of final display was inspired by Mel Bochner, and his ‘aesthetic of administration’. To view the work, one must sit in an office chair and watch a presentation on a laptop featuring screenshots of the excel document. Within this space, the colours of each shopping centre were printed out and displayed in order to contrast the subtle differences in colour between each retail environment. The colours appear very similar but on closer inspection, the differences between one being slightly red, or slightly green suggest the experience of the space to the viewer.

In my future practice, I would like to continue with this method of collecting data and analysing it through colour, and build upon my modes of display in order to recreate the experiences of the investigation through a type of material practice.

Spreadsheet Detailing the Colours of The Shopping Centre, Primary Image Updated Version

Autumn Assessment 2017, Uncategorized

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:

  1. I will visit as many shopping centres as possible.
  2. I will spend at least two to three hours in each shopping centre, more if necessary.
  3. I will take exactly 50 images in each shopping centre, to act as my data set to find my average colour from
  4. 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

Spreadsheet Analysing the Colours of The Shopping Centre Experiment

Autumn Assessment 2017, Studio, Studio 3, Uncategorized

While I have been previously exploring retail environments, and the methods they use to enhance visitor numbers, sales and the overall shopping experience, I have become interested in the idea of the ‘mall’ as a whole. After becoming interested in Benjamin’s ‘Arcades Project’ and the comments he makes not only on the architecture of the arcades but of the characters, politics and intricacies of visiting the arcades. I am interested in the way that this overall experience is what lasts in the memory of the shopper, primarily the space and how one interacts with it, but also in the way that the shopper experiences the space as a person interacting with objects and other people, which are uncontrollable by the large firms, yet still remarkable shape ones memory of the shopping experience.

I am interested in the way that the space, as the unchanging factor, can be the defining factor in the shopping experience. If the space is older and less interesting architecturally, perhaps the shopping experience becomes dull and old-feeling too. I aim to quantify the experience of each shopping centre through a form of colour analysis. I am interested in recording colours as experienced in different views of the shopping centres, as colours are intrinsically attached to emotions, so can relay an experience of a place subtly to the viewer that will allow the viewer to understand the experience of the place without travelling there.

In order to complete this experiment I completed actions as follows:

  1. Collate a data group of images from the inside of the shopping centre. These shall be the first 20 images that come up when the phrase ‘Shopping Centre Interior’ is uttered. The only reason not to use one of these photographs is because it features mainly a store front, rather than the specific architecture of the space.
  2. Run these images through a program which finds the most prominent hex values within the image and record these in an Excel spreadsheet.
  3. Find out what colour on average each shopping centre is and understand what this means about the experience of each space. Find trends and averages within the data set.

Firstly, I set about collecting the images from Google image search as detailed above. Below are some of the sample images I collecting when investigating three shopping centres – The Oracle, Reading, Westfield, Shepherds Bush, and The Bullring, Birmingham. I chose to investigate these well know centres as I was interested in whether the colours changed depending on footfall, location or just the general experience of the space.

Sample Images from The Bullring, Birmingham

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BullRing_interior,_Birmingham

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The interior of the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham, England, UK.

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Sample Images from Westfield Stratford City, London

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Westfield Stratford City, Olympic Park, London, UK. Architect: The Buchan Group

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Westfield Stratford City, Olympic Park, London, UK. Architect: The Buchan Group

 

Sample Images from The Oracle, Reading

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After collecting these images, 20 from each shopping centre, I ran them through some online software in order to find the most prominent colours in each image.

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From each image, I took the most prominent three colours and entered them into my spreadsheet to document the wealth of colours in each image, and aim to find an average colour. I measured the colours in Hex values, as this was the easiest way to recreate specific colours uniformly across different programs, and different ways of displaying information.

My spreadsheets had several categories to sort the information, and thus be able to draw out differences and make conclusions based upon the information shown. Firstly, I categorised the image by using a descriptive title of whereabouts in the shopping centre the picture was taken, then the location of the shopping centre. I then took the image URL, so the viewer would be able to view the source image that colour information was taken from themselves. I then displayed the colour information of all the images next to one another.

Link to Completed Spreadsheet – Colours of the Shopping Centre

After inputting all the information, I wanted to find the average most prominent colour for each shopping centre, assigning a shopping centre a personality and sense of feeling through this colour grading. I found the average by running all the hex values for the primary, secondary and tertiary colours of each image through some software to find a combined hex value for each shopping destination, on http://www.colorhexa.com/.

My results were as follows:

The Oracle, Reading

#989089
989089 the oracle shopping centre

The Bullring, Birmingham

#8b887d

8b887d the bullring

 

Westfield Stratford City, London

#4e4b49

4e4b49

Although arguably very similar shades of brown, the nuances of each colour, being darker or lighter, more green or more red are really highlighted when they are contextualised amongst each other. I am interested in colour as a form of classification for the experience of the shopping centre, and enjoyed the process of the research, data wrangling and investigation that procuring the data entailed. Overall, I am very happy with the outcome of the spreadsheet, and would like to explore the use of investigating the colours of retail environments further, including more locations.