1. Pounding a Mall
2. How architecture creates thinking as a structure for society. Ideology and model behind mass consumption
3. Architect as a fascist or is it him to blame?
4. I call them space invaders.
An article trying to define and understand, look at to the core of the mental landscape we now possess and own as familiar and acceptable. Modelling the body of profit architecture, what kind of purposes and meanings lie behind creating our consuming based social structures, architecture we inhabit and dwell in, which has overwhelmingly conquered the planet and the style to construct is total and fast. Trying to understand power there is in use and how this type of architecture is used to control us, our behaviour and thinking. Also my concern is what kind of public spaces within the frame of consuming are offered for us. How we are in and outside, how these spaces exist and what they do, what is the function there and the lasting effect. Issue of time is essential as buildings stay put a period of time, are made in factory style and manufactured in similar fashion all over.
1.Pounding a Mall
I was told that behind us was a supermarket being built. This was in Pori where there are old factory buildings of which some are restored others aren’t. That we were inside what is left of a cotton factory, which dates back a hundred years or so. I was also told that in this little town called Pori, there are three shopping centers within one kilometer radius (not to mention supermarkets). So thinking to myself and continuing, how is it possible to imagine infinite growth and consumption, that there are people who can afford and are willing to spend their money and time at malls and thinking building malls is progress as is continuous consumption. How is it possible for one to have customers for all of them all the time? Other puzzling issue is how is it possible to get a permission to tear apart old historical factories for this kind of use. Since it has been done, the demolishing of our heritage in Finland, since the 60’s and seventies at least, it has been part of bringing down our visible history to make profit and call it progress.
As a small country, as people, wouldn’t it be crucially important to preserve our cultural memory which is visible, a sight and kept in use? Yes, I could see it a vital issue for many reasons. To see the construction site and feel the pounding of concrete pillars getting hit in to the ground felt physical and alien. Such heavy-duty raises questions. Walls of our classroom were trembling. One hammering pound per second. I looked up at the clock on the wall, it was like a heartbeat. Sweet metaphor for grey concrete stumps to hold it all together, engineered. Isn’t it heartbeat that synchronizes, resonates, comes to bring us enjoyment in music, like music of building up a house. A simple monotonic beat made robotic as we are in a hurry and made look effortless in a way in its massiveness. But when you listen to your own heart, the squeaking and bumping makes you feel nausea. This pounding irritated everybody and the thought of a new market was a sickening idea. Wondering this happening everywhere we got a new perspective, when Yik Chum someone from Hong Kong told us that, she had worked in an office and listened to the same kind of sound every day for three years, a nonstop pounding. Also that in Hong Kong this kind of sound is constant. She lived upstairs to a mall and it is very common in HK to build such high buildings, which contain every possible service one can possibly need in order to live there. Well, we were stunned. How small Finland seemed and how small it is. It looked like Hong Kong lives in different time that is science fiction here in Pori Finland. To adopt this kind of progress probably is inevitable, one cannot live hating it can one? Well one can question the inevitability of it. One thing being what does questioning on one’s own do and being irritated by this progress. We are the ones they are for, these malls, right? Question mark is that I’m not sure. Users, the customers, passerby, owners of the premises, owners of the land, what is it to use a building?
To build is a practical practice, daily sight in a city. Cities are being reconstructed, modelled for our purposes in a democratic or undemocratic way to sustain and restructure our lives. At least in Finland attempt is to be as democratic as possible and process is public. Though it puzzled me to hear an architect say that the system is too democratic, making the decision-making avoid any experimental or bold solutions and in the end everybody mostly follows the same safe patterns fearing something different would not make the wanted profit. In Finland it is clear to see this since the old has been gladly removed and cubical architecture has invaded our land. It is difficult to find which democratic ways are in use when it comes to constructing when it all looks the same. I have my doubts. One approach to view this dilemma is to see who is building and what are the main reasons to construct. Quick look tells me behind my back a supermarket is getting started and another one and another one. Is there a demand for it? Who investigates the demand, who designs these shopping places? It must be calculated and the system manipulated. Calculated so that it emerges as ultimately what people need. Profit architecture which has a purpose and which does good for all.
Profit architecture is to get value out of us during and after having built the site, it is us who are abused, but do we feel abused? We are supposed to like it as it is convenient, easy and part of way of life. Reasons for such houses to exist, to exploit, to have ground to stand on. It could be called fascism wrapped in a package with a smile and sold to us or forced on us and we go where things are cheapest. Just as fascism it lures a crowd with cheapness and slogans with looks, something we think we can afford and must have. So in this line of thought, it is not for us, it is for those who profit. Not just talking about the supermarket behind me, but of the genre of malls, supermarkets and shopping centres are brainwash. There is plenty of reason for harsh critique, but does it sink in there where critique is aimed at? For some it’s a kind of progress that cannot be stopped and should not be stopped. People like malls, they go there to spend time and have fun. That we like and live in capitalism emphasis is on enjoyment and be able not care for the consequences is part of the enjoyment. To live we have to consume products, we need products as we do not have time or energy or capabilities to make all by ourselves, malls and shopping centres easily provide us cheaply what we need and beyond in a pounding-like way.
How malls are brought to us is one way to tell there is nothing ordinary citizens can do, somehow. Companies building their empires are enormous forces. What comes to capacity in funds, employees, connections, planning, they are getting their voice heard in ads and via lobbying via ideology of consuming is the only way modern people must live etc. The whole idea of a mall is to be an ad and a container. Malls, as I see them, are shaped for storage, to have simple routine-like maneuvers practiced, for people to move with trolleys, for the shopkeeper to bring in huge amounts of goods, to cash out, rip off as many people as is possible in rows like in a factory. Interesting article on the issue on www.thefunambulist.net # Weaponized architecture///Architecture for profits Optimization: The Supermarkets’ layout (2012). Which remarks ‘the evil’ from above gazing, an architect laughing at us when we think we are free, but are carefully put in use, used like puppets and under control as our behaviour and thinking is studied, how we need and how we want to be seen. Thought of an evil individual behind architecture may be a bit coloured but there is clearly a group of people who profit a huge deal and there is cynicism and pure exploitation that should not go without critique. How architects/constructors/politicians can and make an impact on the culture of building and consuming is an interesting one. Do architects have to be heroic master minds who stick out via competitions until they can make a difference and are listened to? Do architects have opinions about profit architecture or do they just fulfil needs of constructors who pay architects to not make architecture but constructions for money? Template buildings need obviously very little creativity as it is repetitious, new or old architectural ideas get simplified as concrete elements and other building materials are factory goods and time is money.
2.How architecture creates thinking. Ideology and model behind mass consumption.
To enjoy a shopping center there is entertainment, cinemas, cafés, restaurants, floors, elevators, stairways, carousels, fountains, trees, glass ceilings, lighting, ads, lots of ads and lights. Interior design posing pretty or what happens to be in style, kind of cheap but glittering, mostly depending on what is sold in the particular place and for whom. We can spend time there looking, sitting, walking, buying, dreaming, seeing people, spending money and time. The main issue bothering me has been how this architecture influences us, our behavior, mental state and health, thinking, imagining and understanding what is good and valuable. How such places engage us, harass, puzzle, disturb, change our attitudes that we are not harassed by being harassed or the way we see the world and ourselves. Or on contrary malls make us feel good about ourselves giving inspiration, peace of mind, maybe healing and protection. I’m asking because pounding up structures like malls next to each other is a very impressive and aggressive act, even humiliating. Secondly to lure thousands of people to consume is another gigantic happening, which like chain reaction has started movement like no other which is monotonic and similar. I examine the phenomenon as a pedestrian, biker, careful consumer, artist and a Finn. Also, because I’m concerned as it is a global phenomenon, a consuming and living disaster.
An interesting case began when in the 1950s scientist Jonas Salk was working on polio in the basement of a Pittsburgh laboratory. Work was not proceeding. He left to Italy to rest in a monastery. After the breakthrough, which led to the vaccine for polio he felt that the monastery had deeply effected him as a place and as a building. He invited architect Louis Kahn to design The Salk institute in La Jolla in California hoping other scientists would benefit the serene surroundings. Since then in Salk there has been research on how our surroundings affect feelings and behaviour. “In the current issue of Scientific American Mind, Emily Anthes describes how ceiling height, colors and other design factors influence attention and creativity. Scientists are just beginning to address these questions, in part by studying changes in brain activity as subjects make their way through virtual reality rooms.” “Mose Bar, a neuroscientist, speculates that our brains are hard-wired to avoid sharp angles because we read them as dangerous.” https://www.fastcompany.com/1278814/your-brain-architecture
What does research give to building new if it is not taken into consideration in no other way than how to make the most of us as consumers and psychological beings? What comes to being efficient at the place of consuming, work, living is to be a machine and in use for profit purposes, being useful. How workers enjoy working in a place has a lot of value for employers and of course for workers themselves. Same goes with were you live and spend time at. What we see and how we react to structures around us is interesting. Does monotonous dull city architecture depress us or make us violent, for example.
The thing I wonder is do we create new points of views at all or do we build the obvious taken for granted state for the monetary value is the primary value and an interest for small group of people who have too much power? Do we live in science fiction already where efficiency and amount is what has number one value? To go back to something that we are losing is impossible, something is lost entirely in terms of architecture. Possibly all that which we value as beautiful and worth having around and go see abroad, the history which has brought value cannot be made again.
3.Architect as fascist or is it him to blame?
In Finland we have small-scale and a short history of profit architecture in comparison to for instance the United States. In the US there are already generations who go and see malls of their childhood which may be abandoned and empty with parking lots, to remember what it was like then, how it was maybe better. Would you be nostalgic for a mall? For example website www.deadmalls.com is filled with pictures of abandoned malls. Companies owning these not-in-use buildings don’t want this kind of publicity, but the site still exists and it is quite interesting and has a fun side to it. Documentaries like Malls R us from year 2008 by a Canadian Helene Klodawsky https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAIDAzTtoCA gives a good picture of impact of malls to people’s lives, picture of people who have spent a lot of their leisure time at malls and around them. The idea of a mall has become to statue something else as well. Has bad profit architecture and bad architecture eventually come up to equal the same as bad television? People love both, but feel guilty for using and liking them. As I see youngsters in Finland using mall parking spaces to meet friends, skateboard, bike, spray graffiti, have fun etc., I wonder is it so because they don’t have any or many other places to go to do these things. Conclusion to this is that options are given scarcely and one has to make the best out of places that are there. How to imagine something else can be a difficult task. To find and create alternatives is hard work. What makes malls problematic as public spaces is that they are privately owned, monitored and similar. What one owns one also controls. “By designing this space as an interior area accessible by definite entrances and supervised by dozens of video cameras and sensors, corporations were able to minimize the number of undesirables that were allowed in “their public space”. “The design is also oriented in order to compose a whole interior fantasy world that is supposed to be perceived as better than the outside reality. This world is safe, clean, warm, entertaining and attractive. It is a disappointment to leave it says a consumer who forgot/denied reality. The main characteristic of capitalist design is to leave nothing at chance. Indeed chance provokes uncertainty and uncertainty provides an illegibility that can be unproductive for Capitalism.” https://thefunambulist.net/architectural-projects/politics-capitalisms-architecture The mental landscape hyper-controlled public spaces create is oppressive, paranoid and delusional. Other mental emotional image given is the feeling that consumer is in charge, choosing and being cared for, nurtured and given the best chances, opportunities and goods available. The customer can feel enjoyment, pleasure of consuming and freedom. “The unreliable, possibly dangerous group of people is kept outside.” Capitalism’s Architecture tells that: the contemporary mall is said to have been invented by The Austrian-American Victor Gruen in the 1950’s. It is supposed that it was him who thought of the pure capitalist architecture as an element of urbanism. Firstly shopping malls were intended for the middle class as the equivalent of old European city centers, a pedestrian place of gathering and activity. Doing it differently the United States placed this new kind of public space within the framework of privatized supervision, security and control. www.thefunambulist.net # POLITICS///Capitalism’s Architecture. This is the insides of a mall in short, the gathering of crowds and almost inhaling the same ideas has some scary visions. How about the shells around, cubes as I call them, shapes built? Still controlled by cameras, even the trashes behind are watched, locked up.
4. I call them space invaders.
There is a field, wasteland or a meadow of some kind, bushes and it’s been there like that for a longer period of time surrounded by small-scale shops and supermarkets. Like in Tampere where I live, there is Lielahti which is one part of the town where many malls are situated and are all offering a bit different varieties of goods, but none of them is for spending time, dwelling. Such dwell in malls are in the center of town. Shopping centers are booming in Finland. Is it hysteria or just convenient acceptable progress? Interestingly the biggest malls are not the biggest sellers according to the statistics on shopping centers in Finland in Wikimedia about 20 biggest shopping centres, 2010. The website of the Finnish Council of Shopping Centers says that a successful shopping center is the pounding heart of a community and gives a definition: shopping center consists of a commercial building in which retail outlets and services open inwards onto a walkway or concourse. The gross loanable area is generally at least 5,000 sq. m. Shopping centers have at least 10 retail outlets. A mall has one or more anchor tenants and a number of key traders as well as other retailers and services. The services may be either commercial or public. A single trader may not exceed 50% of the total commercial space. Shopping centers have joint management and marketing. www.kauppakeskusyhdistys.fi. Though year 2012 yle.fi reported a decline in building shopping centers in Finland in the next few years. Finnish real estate company Citycon is a pro-active owner and long-term developer of its properties. It is a major owner and builder of Shopping centres in Finland, elsewhere in Scandinavia and in the Baltic. They say on their website they take on account of environmental aspects and the well-being of the areas surrounding its retail properties, which provides solid foundations for the company’s success and growth in the future. www.citycon.fi. In the light of having seen and visited many shopping centres anywhere in Finland and my skepticism I very much would like to see one of their properties to be what they claim. Very often those interested in constructing shopping centers are multinational companies to whom project investors can invest in. But there are good news too as Rautalampi municipality has taken chance and is looking for funders to build wooden 1000 square meter shopping center, which would focus on locally produced goods such as local food and organic food. http://www.investinfinland.fi/web/invest-in-finland/search-results?p_p_id=3&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_mode=view&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=2&p_p_col_count=3&_3_groupId=162753&_3_struts_action=%2Fsearch%2Fsearch&_3_keywords=rautalampi+shopping+centre This is a soon hopefully to become a trend, because so far in Finland the repetition of the same models is a major fault and worry. Monotonous landscape of blank straight forms, blank colors, cubes with gigantic ads are rising up to the sky in favor of vast amount of traffic, visibility, exploitative industries for mass consumption. Made consuming look easy, unproblematic and light in weight and problems like abuse of employees’ rights seem far away. There are projects that have designed different kinds of malls, for example for a mall to create it’s own energy and experimenting new kinds of appearances. It is called climate protection supermarket and one is located in Graz Austria. Also designers have had emphasis on using sustainable materials and environmentally friendly economical construction to reduce the life-cycle cost of buildings. Critics assume such projects to be only local and exist only to polish the surface of the big players in the industry. One way or the other there definitely is a demand and hurry to develop new ways of consuming and constructing.http://www.archdaily.com/805071/shopping-nord-graz-behf-corporate-architects
Issue of understanding is very crucial today like the issue of what you can say to somebody and what is not good to say to somebody and who is this somebody to whom we choose to say what we think or choose not say what we really think. Why do we think the way we do and what is this social game? What are the grounds of our thoughts and actions, what are the benefits and drawbacks? Do you encourage as you think it is the best way to practice humanism or do you discourage and why, what kind of place does silence play in discouraging and giving lessons, choosing not to act upon something or someone, choosing not to benefit someone. Via this we can analyse people’s motives, character, emotional capacities and attitudes, positions people think they have in relation to others, also power people think and clearly have over others. Who gets encouraged and who does not. This is a very important factor in making of us. Who has the strength to fight against constant discouragement, constant doubt and ridicule? How much is it allowed to say I do not understand this without sounding stupid and what is the thing we want to understand, because sometimes it seems it is not ourselves or the other, it is not politics, it is not social media and reasons behind it. The question of I do not understand is frequent for an artist to hear. It was not frequent at university, because fear of sounding stupid is acute and real. This is the record of rational contemporary humans, fear of not being adequate, of not being smart enough to wonder out loud. Art can be the thing which must be understood immediately or else it is pointless, wrong, out of place and futile. Measured by reason which is obviously there owned by the viewer who walks by, gazes, feels awkward and refuses art as it is not so him or her, it is not part of this person meaning it does not resonate, give much, have personal touching points. Art therefore must be owned by the viewer as likeable as it flatters the viewer, belongs to his or her realm, reality, understanding and does not frighten. Point of making difficult and complex art is exactly this, that it is not a straight passage to walk through and say this I understand, this is good and worthy the money. What I understand is good what I do not understand is threatening and maybe even bad, corrupt. Art must be equal to good as it is seen as doing good, teaching us about ourselves. Question is what art teaches about ourselves then? Art we are shown has an entertainment value, it has to be applauded and accepted by experts, this makes art valid and existent. Seen, judged, talked about, placed, viewed, liked. Art expert is someone who has a lot of power telling what is good, hopefully clearly telling to those who are not experts why good is good and bad is bad. So what is the situation when art experts are corrupt and are not telling about art objectively but subjectively and when personal relations define good, and even what is art? When things get more than instantly comprehensible people lose their temper, patience, interest, the difficulty is almost an insult against the viewer because it is not made into easily chewable bits after which to feel thankful and smart of having seen this, witnessed.
What kind of message and content sinks in? How must information be modified, modelled, moulded, simplified, made comprehensible within the frame of our culture, the frame being as we understand our culture, ourselves and people’s needs, desires, minds, assumptions, patterns of thought, appreciations. We all search for some kind of grandness which elevates us. We understand via where we come from and we see people through that lens. It is all so often said and thought of me for example that I as coming and working working class jobs am not able to understand, gain, reach out for and grasp his and her culture. I do get, I really get it if you know what I mean. “That kind of people rarely take interest in classical music, even less to contemporary classical music” or ” I can’t afford to get a PhD in Switzerland” or “My art is not art” Straightforward no to my desires and dreams. I have shut up about them because to understand value of my dreams and capability to reach out go uncomprehended. Strangely my gender and my class, my poverty put me in a position where I am told more no’s and told about my lack of cultural and intellectual capacity which is bound to where I come from and what kind of an instant image my gender poses to people. If I tell what I would like to do, I am told the reasons why it is impossible for me, just like that. Please tell me your motives, they really stay in the cloud. Thank you for the moral and mental support. You guys shine a light.
This is my understanding of contemporary humans where understanding is the most difficult and hardest part even though there seems to be loads of it as personally all view themselves and pose. How contemporary it is let’s pause for a moment and ponder. Still even though we live in the age of intellect, smart this and that, there are strict boundaries who can be smart and what is smart, who can make and who can’t. Anything worth while is simulated and signalled via the named, labelled, defined, understood in a way concept of smart. Smart which is effortless and an easy process of making things to better our lives, availability and accessibility signalling this. What do we have access to and how? Who can access what? Do we have access to something that is relevant or to something which is on the go, moving and getting replaced as easily as it is coming to us like a whistle?
When you have access to all this what is named smart you are smart too, that you have it. You know how things work on the surface and you do not have to know what things truly are, are for, are made of, come from and why. Is this living a lie and not wanting to admit it because it would be too hurtful? Purpose of smart is the created illusion which brings the good feeling of being inside and having it all. It is still an unfortunate fact that possession, bank account saldo, where you come from and who you know define our moral, intellectual and cultural superiority. This is also believed and held dear by those who should be able to question everything even status and relevance of their own, those are ‘intellectuals’ in arts and academies. Vanity is the biggest drive we seem to have and be incapable to fight against. Why should we fight it when it justifies and states our uniqueness and glory.
What else is there if there is not trust? It is a bold and old statement but I hold on to it. It is the thing that keeps me going, trust to certain things that are true and right. I like to keep myself as trustworthy and I expect trustworthiness from others. There always comes a point where I find disappointment, too often. I hold on to trustworthiness so much that if the counter part, the answer, anything I face does not stick to truth I walk away. In lie everything is lost to me and I discard it immediately.
What comes to politics trust is a primary and the most important requirement, without it morale of the whole of society sinks and usually changes for worse. The society sinks with dirty politicians and officials. On that kind of path there are many nations for some reason without much changing. Why is trust so hard to find, why is lying and cheating considered a better option than being honest? A society without having anyone to trust is lost.
I have myself to rely on, but a mass of people who find their politicians corrupt liars over and over again, how do they find people who are accountable and honest enough to represent them if the only way to do anything and to do politics is to be rich, become more rich and keep things that way, to protect one’s gained assets. How do politicians run a country that already has sunken below the point of no trust whatsoever. A country that has waited and waited a crash without much will to do otherwise. To find people who citizens can believe in will make a society better, politicians who want to accomplish good results for all, not only for the rich ‘elite’. It should not be so hard, but it still is.
Business as usual? Is capitalism as we know it destroying us? Economy is vital base of how and why nations function. It has a role of making and giving value, keep us going. Where are we going and where do we need to go? Who sets our path? Is it the entity Capitalism? How economy and markets work and what they produce very much tell in what kind of world we live. Should markets be less open or more free is a nonstop argument. Most people seek to become rich wanting to possess more than is necessary and maintain a luxurious standard of living and consume more than is sufficient and sustainable.
Anti-Capitalists ground their claims on facts that economy practiced now leaves most of the people in the world standing outside the fancy restaurant. To blame the system Capitalism is complicated swamp of questions and accusations for which there aren’t much easy answers. It is common demand of anti-capitalists to abolish our current economic system altogether. Anti-Capitalists claim capitalism exploits workers and consumers for few to make huge profits. Anti-Capitalism can be called anti-profitism. Money being root of all evil and laws to regulate economy serve the wealthy.But how can economy and money be accused of governments functioning poorly and would any other economic system work any better? I doubt it strongly, but I also doubt system we are having. There has not been any better solution so far of making trade as we do now. It is worth while question businessmen and their ethics. Do consumers have ethics? Do they know what it is to consume ethically?
Capitalism can be good and it has been. Probably welfare here would not be without Capitalist ways of making wealth. Workers gaining their rights within this Capitalist production system has made them prosperous. Capitalism can serve good of all mankind if it is used in democratic and honest way. There is always the B side to making money how honest can it be and how money-making is regulated plays important part. How does morals work in this picture and how does a person’s moral develop in this system? How much is it due to in what kind of culture one grows up to and to what kind of needs we are culturally grown to live by?
That would mean a drastic altering of way of life for which few would be ready. Are you ready for environmental time bomb, because it is ahead of us pretty close by. To say hey I’m doing this because I can is the most bullshit excuse to justify anything that is damaging planet and people in this magnitude!
Morals seem to be strict where there is no moral.
We are warriors.Soldiers, fighters, people of battle, of daily combat – who is the victim here if not the one who fights constantly? How do we victimize ourselves and do we since it is a cultural norm not to place oneself on stage and show one’s hurt. It is to be hidden and to be burden of yours only. To victimize ourselves we put us in the position of needing help. Maybe we are victimized cattle at war of existence of hiding, burn marked, owned by our pain. We are supposed to be victims, knowingly, but not showing. Sacrificed and slaughtered at the altar of war daily, the daily battle of existence in pictures and anywhere. We must in order to feel empathy towards anyone first allow ourselves be empathetic to ourselves. It requires a victim to be found to feel empathy. Allow ourselves to be vulnerable and weak. It does not mean a constant self-search going in circles, ending wounded and nowhere, nor weeping about misfortunes of life, because misfortunes are there and that is it. What else would it mean? No one avoids those pitiful moments of self-loath, -hate and feeling sorry for yourself. To be merciful towards yourself would be the key of finding that happiness everyone longs for.
Such unwritten moral codes – I have not figured out what they actually are, but they exist never the less. Somehow I just fail to believe you.
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2012 Chris Carnyval Sincerely, Please don’t let me be misunderstood, My intentions are Good. Don’t you ever think otherwise. Oh no, never.
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