Mirum in Modum_ A Marvelous Revolution of Shopping
Shopping is the dominant social experience in urban environments. The spaces of shopping are the single largest shared collective spaces in cities. However shopping is in a period of major transition. The recent shifts in shopping trends project that e-commerce will rapidly take over physical retail. As a result shopping, as we know it now can no longer be the motor for activating urban space and traditional retail needs to radically transform.
This thesis is interested in the impending scenario where shopping moves entirely beyond the transaction and no longer involves the exchange of physical goods. This is a scenario, in which the spaces of shopping are no longer as we understand them now, and we begin to question; what happens to urbanism when its primary shared social space is radically transformed?
This is a fiction where the spaces of shopping have become liberated from buying and selling and transitioned into commodifying social programs. As a result brands are shifting from products to experiences as they are evolving from a distribution space to a collective place. The project is simultaneously utopic and dystopic; in a paradox as capitalism is relentlessly reinventing new forms of material and experiential consumption, ultimately imposing the brandscape onto all forms of public life. However, this shift from product to experience will become one of the greatest opportunities for architects to partake in the re-invention of the spaces of shopping as an unprecedented amount of the most valuable spaces in the city, await a new meaning.
In order to re-imagine shopping, the project uses 3 archetypal apparel brands as a medium for exploring the broader problem that I have been looking at this thesis.
On this ubiquitous shopping street stands at a generic urban center occupying a block of 140 meters wide and 30 meters deep. The series of three branded spaces are separated by a parti-wall and connected by the sidewalk illustrating a new congestion of cultural behaviors in the city. The plan and section show a collage of functions that describe the synthetic and highly suggestive experiences in the block.
The project is a medium of exploring the scenario in more detail, representing the complete conquest of the delirium of shopping. This alternative reality plays out one potential scenario of the delirium of shopping. Despite their innate narcissism, each individual space generates a new territory for intervention of fashion and branding into the political scene, social space and public sector.
Who influences you graphically?
For this collection of drawings I drew a lot of inspiration from fashion illustrators. From the playful works of John Booth to the stencil- like imagery of Erté’s compositions, I am interested in the combination of fashion and architectural representations. I am also obsessed with visual artists’ Lok Jansen and Jeroen Koolhaas and their collaborations with AMO for Prada. It introduces sophisticated imagery highlighting the attitudes of the brand and the conceptual reference of the collections.
What defined the animation as primary medium through which you explore your utopian/dystopian speculation? What role do the plans and sections play in relation to this?
My ambition with the animated imagery is to subvert the way we experience architectural representation to that of a spectacle. Similar to that of a show, the video installations are intended to draw the viewer into the frame. From where I was able to control and slowly reveal the narrative that is the future of shopping.
The plan and section are a conventional language we use to communicate our ideas and in this thesis, they play a principal role in situating the viewer as you move between frames.
What role does sound play? How and to what extent does it relate to the imagery? Why the lack of it in certain points?
The audio coexists with the video to enhance and create a subversive experience. Similar to the choice of architectural elements and materiality in the images the soundtracks relates to the individual brand, each with a distinct identity, in-different to its adjacencies. For one it creates suspense, perpetuating an almost clinical tension. The other with its rough, rebellious beat and the last set to nurture an almost meditative state, all aides to establish the brand in the scenario. The breaks in-between disrupt this linear sequence of the artificial space where the fiction and narrative collide.
What texts/excerpts did you look to for the development of the project?
I began by establishing an understanding of the precarious nature of shopping and retail consumption today and I read various essay’s by John McMorrough, Sze Tsung Leong, Jeffrey Inaba, Chuhua Judy Chung, and other pieces in the publication Project on the city II: The Harvard Guide to Shopping. Their works laid the foundations for my speculation. Also, looked at Rem Koolhaas’s retroactive manifesto for Manhattan, Delirious New York, which introduces the idea of the congestion of programs, which helped to formulate and theorize my work. And lastly, I think binging Charlie Brooker’s satirical themes on Black Mirror might have played a considerable role during the development of my fiction.
What was your work process in terms of development of the speculation and the construction of the movie? How much was the animation a working tool as well as a final product?
Through the collage I was able to engage with the drawing as a process, flattening the architectural elements and texture to give way to the narrative space. Developing the imagery was just as much a working tool as the final product. It helped tailor and formulate the narrative for each space.
in discussing the notion of experience did you ever think of challenging the presentation of the project as as an experience itself? (oculus rift etc)
Yeah! Definitely, I heavily deliberated with the idea of using virtual reality as a part of the presentation, but I decided against it, as I did not see how it would add to the narrative of my fiction. I wanted to present the visual imagery with all of its sophistication and flatness to be assembled together to form the film noir of the future of shopping.
Gourav Neogi is a recent M.Arch graduate from the University of British Columbia. His work engages with architecture at multiple scales- from that of the object, to the city. Living and study throughout Europe, India, and North America have fascinated his ongoing interest in people and ways of nurturing social interactions through architecture. Follow his current adventures, travelling and working in Copenhagen on his instagram @neogi