It's been a week since my first FoCI lecture - Modernity, Time and the City: lecture 11 January 2012. I've needed the entire week to try and get my head around it all. I think I understand it now so i'm going to attempt to tackle the workshop task.
City spaces and the experience of modernity
With reference to the ideas of last week’s lectures, the VLE notes, your own personal knowledge and prior reading, and most importantly personal observation and analysis, prepare a short description and analysis of ONE space in the city that conveys some aspects of modern city experience.
The lecture notes highlight the importance of not confusing modernity with modernism - "...modernism is something completely different from modernity and it is important not to confuse the terms.". Therefore, I am going to quickly jot down their definitions to ensure I don't mix them up.
Modernity - The term ‘modernity’ means the experience of modern life; the infrastructure, trappings, and social systems that developed from the industrialisation of manufacture.
Modernism - Modernism was founded on the following concept... Public expectations began to shift to an assumption that, through technology, life for the next generation would be very, very different (better) and that the past was ‘old fashioned’ and outmoded.
I THINK I have to choose a space that doesn't necessarily look modern because that would be an example of modernism. Instead I think I have to choose a space that displays Glasgow's change into modernity.
MY SPACE - ARGLL ARCADE
Consumerism is the defining element of modernity.
"Consumerism relies on the effective production of goods, manufactured in previously unheard of numbers and levels of quality and finish" - lecture notes.
Argll Arcade was built in 1827. A time when the bourgeoisie lifestyle could be observed via these semi-public, controlled-entry shopping arcades of the 1830's.
Spaces Arcades were created to house selections of shops filled with manufactured products to capitalise in on the new trend of consumerism.
Today, Argll Arcade still represents high end consumerism. Even though it is housed in an old building (now) the intent is still of modernity - buy buy buy! Shops crammed in all selling similar stock at competitive prices. Precious diamond rings become unified in the search to find the cheapest. There is a sense of loss between the connection of maker and wearer. Now it is machine to wearer and somewhere along the production line there is a sense of loss between man and craft.
We need craft to connect us to the earth. It is embedded in our primitive genes. Taking our craft and giving our knowledge to machines is almost like us making ourselves voluntary redundant.
The recession has seen a rise in desperate sales tactics. A few time now when walking through Argll Arcade the sales assistant have came out of their stores and approached me to try and come inside to buy. Times are hard but the Argll Arcade was built on the image of middle-class life and people go there to purchase high-end items. One-off lifetime purchases and therefore the person going into make possibly one of the biggest purchases of their entire life want to absorb the middle-class atmosphere if only for a second! By resorting to desperate sales tactics they are damaging the image of the Argll Arcade and turning it into nothing more than an indoor market.
Photos of Argll Arcade.