The Shell Game: An indexing of ecstatic consumption and the pseudo-site Open Access
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Consumption pervades the American landscape. Mega-churches, shopping malls, casinos, and amusement parks all offer dramatic and self-contained consumer experiences. Each element of spatial design combines to shape the consumer’s perception of these non-places, or pseudo-sites. Crafters of pseudo-sites exploit malleability of place, plotting fictive origin points to harness the historical power of real sites. The architects of the Gilded Age, the Columbian Exposition, and American game shows built pseudo-sites that rely on a facade of nostalgia, the myth of the great past as a key to projecting the future to a new consumer audience. The storied forms embedded in these scenes are veiled and disguised by the spectacle of the ensemble. The Shell Game exhibition considers these phenomenological encounters with elements of architecture and game show aesthetics in real time and space. The exhibition indexes a cross-contextual narrative of form, geometry and material that bridge the home, the game show set and other consumer spaces.