T.V.

March 16, 2010
colorbars chomsky
Standard Broadcasting Color Bars (source)

 

I no longer have a ‘television’, that big black box that sat awkwardly in the living room and burst into technicolor light at the touch of a button. Now I receive my moving images on a portable laptop via the internet—sometimes inclined in bed, ancient Greek style, sometimes sitting at the kitchen table, which I consider to be more formal than the latter. On extra special occasions I place my laptop in the living room in the empty space where the television used to sit, thus watching it at a distance, from the couch—a memorial service rather than a comfortable viewing experience. Domestic spaces, such as the kitchen, living room and bedroom, have lost their post-war hierarchy with the death of the television as an object. The new hierarchy prioritizes spaces of comfort—my personal favorite is the bedroom, where I can watch Gossip Girl under blankets with legs stretched out, the computer humming softly from its perch on my gut.

 

E. Sean Bailey

 

Still from Manufacturing Consent, 1992 (source)

 

Arguably, the quintessential public experience of the suburbs occurs at the mall. However, the space of the mall is not a backdrop for public engagement alone, it is a space where public and private encounters vie for dominance: mallgoers are confronted with individuality, families, private enterprise, shared experience etc. In legal terms, the space of the mall is private property located in the economic sphere, rather than being actual civic space. Accordingly, it is beginning to reflect its private nature by dressing more and more like a domestic space, rather than an overtly economic one.

 

When Erin Mills Town Center opened in 1989, to much fanfare, it had the world’s largest screens assembled from a collection of individual televisions. These screens were visible throughout the mall and thus, a favorite pastime of the private sphere was made public. To the dismay of many, the modular monitors are no longer intact as they proved to be far too expensive to maintain.

 

Following the loss of the screens, the Erin Mills Town Center gained new seating areas, which resemble living rooms. Currently, Lazy-boy type chairs are arranged on four corners of an area rug, complete with houseplants and side tables topped with lamps. Encouraging domestic behavior in a superficially public environment exposes the true nature of this ever-shifting space that is forever juxtaposing public and private, through an economic filter.

 

Erandi de Silva

 

 

 

 

 

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