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The most digestible example of a mediated space is one that has a degree of fantasy, like Disney World. The over the top character of the landscape both visually and audibly attempts to pull you in. We can also talk about department stores.

The department store Staples have spent a lot of money on store design. Their goal is to make everything as easy to navigate as possible. Staples studied to see how customers reacted to signs at different levels, different fonts, different store-flows, and who knows what else. After meticulous tweaking the stores layout puts itself in the background, a space that mediates the user to the environment in the most immediate way. Wandering around Staples should be as thoughtless as possible. There is no need to ask employees where anything is; this is akin not needing a user-manual for a computer program because its interface is so simple to navigate.

Bolter and Grusin (sort of) draw the line for classification of a mediated space as any establishments with operating hours. These are referred to as non-spaces, as places that shut down. Places like this would be creepy at night. Everyone is familiar with the creepy-night-time-theme-park shots in films.

This is a hard line to draw and it seems to come at the relation to space from a city-human relation instead of a nature-human relation. Ecological anthropology set out to study human beings from the stance of nature-to-human, but the field has been criticized for its scope falling too short. There seems to be a point that society crosses where humans become self-contained and removed from nature. These spaces are heavily mediated, and the nature-human lens stops being useful. Heavily populated Cities and suburbs that are entirely human-crafted are examples.

I think this video is important because it shows a space that surfaces once a year. It allows the different sections of the area to mediate their dismay towards one another via a horse race. Note the horse is allowed to enter the Church-space.

Some cultural tropes are build so deeply into man that they resurface in each new cultural moment. The American event that parallels the above would be the Superbowl, Europe has the world cup, and on a world scale; the Olympics. The Olympic stadium is perhaps the most notorious example of a  non-space. The building is constructed entirely for one event that is 16 days long, with an opening and closing ceremony to mark the ‘opening hours’ and ‘closing hours’ of the stadium. (Obviously the stadium is used for other activities afterwords, but that falls outside of the scope of the cultural moment that is The Olympics).

I think the one thing (sort of) left out of both the remediative lens and the anthropological lens is the purpose for these mediated environments existing.This is likely because the topic of study is genealogical, and the intentionality behind the creation of each non-space has to be analyzed on a case-by-case-basis. These environments have been created for a reason, and that reason differs and evolves with culture.

The intention of a Staples store is one of efficiency. People want to find what they need and leave as seamlessly as possible.

The intention behind Disney Land lies in escapism. The landscape is close enough to that of a city to give the environment a familiar feel, although it is entirely constructed. Because the environment is entirely constructed it can be a giant theatre production. Actors playing roles and music altering moods, pulling you in to the world of magic.

It’s the whole concept of “onstage” and “offstage” for Disney. The whole idea is to create a fantasy world for the guests and they feel that the only way to do it is to maintain the illusion no matter what it takes.
There are specific areas designated as “onstage” and when we are in those areas, we are basically playing a role. Once we get “offstage” though anything goes.
This is also the reason why we are not called employees or workers, but everyone is known as a cast member.
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And the workers don’t wear uniforms, they wear “Costumes”.

All of these concepts have trickled down to the Disney Store in malls. Every morning there is a store opening display, with a key.  Every Morning.

Disney-Spaces were created because of the American Cultural moment of the 50’s. I’m not that well versed in the 50’s political and social climate so I can’t go into why that would be.

The creation of spaces for sports like Football Stadiums are born out of some innate desire humans have to battle it out, which is probably born out of some monkey-mind thing we have going on.

These spaces all exist for a reason tied to the cultural moment they occur(ed) in.

One Comment

  1. Mattie wrote:

    I LOVED this post. You bring up some great examples of mediated spaces. That video was very cool, and I’d never heard of it before, so I definitely learned something new. I agree that Disney Land/World is one of those clearly obvious mediated spaces that are very much about immediacy as opposed to hypermediacy. I’d never thought of the different Olympic stadiums as ones, but they are and you make a good point about that. Great post!

    Monday, October 11, 2010 at 2:18 am | Permalink