Friday, September 02, 2011

The wrong side of the mall


No delivery today
Laval, QC, July 2011
About this photo: We're shopping this week. You can, too, by clicking here.
The 21st century shopping mall has evolved into a slickly architected environment designed to efficiently separate unwitting consumers from their money. Everything about a mall speaks to marketing perfection, from gleaming glass and marble floors to the placement of the food court relative to the department stores relative to the places that sell Mrs. Roper-ish costume jewellery and gourmet popcorn. Setting aside my natural cynicism toward the all-sales-all-the-time mentality, I realize just how much insight goes into every last detail of these places.

Yet no one gives much thought to the unseen infrastructure that feeds all that artificial commercialism. (Or is it commercial artificiality? I never really know.) But if you wander around enough, eventually you see the somewhat less glitzy backside of the whole operation. It's the seamy yin to the average mall's more prosperous-looking yang. But without it, none of the pretty stuff would work. Or even exist.

So as I wandered around the back of this local mall and dodged the shards of glass embedded in the cracked asphalt, I didn't fault anyone for the ugliness back here. It's simply a function of its design. It's up to us, however, to look at both sides of the equation.

Your turn: Do you ever go behind the scenes? Do tell...

2 comments:

Plain Jane said...

I have gone behind the scenes - in Las Vegas. Where many see the glitzy glam, the lights that sparkle... try (carefully) walking along the side of the hotels or the back - seedy, run down, a tiny bit scary in the dark. Fascinating.

Max said...

I love going to the backside and seeing the unseen side of things. That's one of the reasons I loved doing Stage Crew at my first school. The audience sees this slick dance and light show, but never see all the kids scurrying around backstage, above stage and up in the sound/light booth, let alone me barking orders into their headsets. Phenomenal.