David Schafer

Colosseum, 2020

The way that shopping malls were structurally laid out historically has changed. Constructed as a closed system usually with multiple levels, an open floor plan, mirrors, openings in floors, represents a design strategy from the 70’s that was a classic layout for shopping malls. This was to manipulate, confuse, and entrap the consumer for an extended period of time. These original malls of a larger scale have experienced a decline, ultimate removal, or transformation into more of a pedestrian oriented mixed-use facility that may include living, working, and policing.

Colosseum evolved out of my continued interest in the relationship between language and the built environment. Many have written about the series of enclosures that we inhabit and pass through in our lifetime; home, school, barracks, and factory, and how that has evolved into a collapsed situation that destabilizes the boundaries between them. Urban development and gentrification continue to erase the past and colonize land and space in order to maximize profits for investors and developers, while installing massive spaces of consumption and high-density living. In many situations the live/work/shop/play spaces are integrated and are inextricably intertwined into one colossal complex.

These highly engineered social frameworks and platforms have been compressed algorithmically to maximize profit and density, and at the same time exclude specific strata of the public. As the Neoliberal agenda dictates what is good for the market is good for society. Societies of control, as discussed by Burroughs, Foucault, Deleuze, and more recently Shoshana Zuboff, also speak to spectacle, consumerism, and appearances. With newer opportunities for surveillance, from the panopticon to digital tracking and now data mining, the authoritarianism of our society is invisibly woven into the new models of the social sphere. The audio for this work is a spoken word track provided by an AI natural reader program and edited. Colosseum is an audio script signaling the colonizing of space for consumption, living, working, education, playing, and confining.

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