I walk into the majestic temples devoted to the religion of consumerism. The freshly painted walls and shiny marble floors incense me. The gigantic towers stacked with specialty stores, food courts and movie theatres overwhelm me with their grandeur. But, as soon as I step through the shiny glass automatic doors it feels like I have been completely drained. It’s almost as if their motion detection systems have a built in soul removal mechanism, sucking out any free and wanton spirits who may dare enter the hallowed and sacrosanct cathedrals of the “new meaning”.
I feel sick.
Everything around me is so fresh and sterile. Demanding consumer aesthetic designs woo me with their creations of sensory pleasure. Every image meticulously crafted to appease gently with a targeted and honed disposition.
White-hot glows permeate beautiful, fresh faces. Faces that tell wonderful stories of joy and completion through attainment of merchandise. Soft frost skin gloss. Crisp clear earthy tones. Embossed and emblazoned logos indicating a world of perfection. Magnificent patriotic symbolism, evoking striking emotions and enforcing a loyalty to the sacred product. There’s an image here for everybody to resonate with. Everybody is accepted here.
Welcome to the world of empty illusions. Where everything is a projection, an abstraction and a fabrication of who you are.
If the world is letting you down, if there’s something missing from your life, or if you’re insecure about something, the world of empty illusions is going to fill those cracks right in. At a price.
The illusion creators play on your every feeling, thought and emotion, like it was a form of malleable clay to be shaped and constructed into the perfect passive consumer. You are not to interact or comment on the illusions; you can only experience them in a monolith. Troublemakers and subversives are quickly escorted to continue the maximum flow of consumerism. Nothing can disrupt the flow.
The deeper and deeper I explore the labyrinth of specialty stores, branded boutiques and style crafters, the emptier I feel. Everything is uniquely individual yet utterly homogenized. You could drive for 20 minutes and experience exactly the same things in a different town. All the symbols are the same, and permanent. Truly unique or individual expressions are not encouraged; that’s not good branding. Branding is ubiquity. Branding is homogeneity. Branding is the Religion. But the Religion has no soul.
I look at the faces that pass me by. They are cold and aloof, devoid of expression or substance. They tell a story of malaise, frustration and anxiety. A striking juxtaposition to the projected people on the walls of the temple, who live in a state of permanent bliss. The faces do not connect, or interact. They are completely isolated and alone in the shell of their searching, self-important selves.
The faces are searching for the meaning that has been promised to them by the creators of the consumer temples. They are searching for happiness in the acquisition of the holy brand. They are searching for the substance to fill in the cracks, fill in the gaps. But it’s not there.
The only answer is to indulge, binge and be decadent. The only key to happiness is through the acquisition of the temples’ merchandise. The substance to fill in the cracks will only need to be replaced once a new insecurity is highlighted.
The more they get, the more they want. The unhappier they are.
And the perpetuation of emptiness is sustained within the feedback loop of a “new” but hollow meaning.
Originally published on Stileproject.com under the ‘Produkt’ moniker, circa 2001.
Stileproject served as the internet’s foremost breeding ground of Everything/Nothing media – shock value, high impact content, and a flourishing underground community of freaks, tweakers, perverts, idiots and geniuses. For nearly 10 years it thrived, being one of the most controversial sites on the internet.
Stile invited me to write for him for a period of a few years. I innocently gave my email adress so that people could send me feedback. I would receive endless torrents of correspondance – pictures of cross dressing Japanese men in cling-wrap, endless dick shots, nuns, weird Mid-Western teenagers dressed like satan spawn, vicious psychopaths cursing me with the wish to develop cancer, desperate lost souls begging for some kind an answer, and at one stage, the frontman of 80′s glam band Dee Snider offering his opinions on gun control. It was a bit of a weird time.
This was an internet pre-memes, pre-YouTube, pre-critical mass. The people that sought this content were the hungry beasts, the leviathans scouring the depths for the depraved and the enlightenment of the eviscerated underbelly. They congregated here. It was the pre-cursor to the modern day reservoir.
These collections serve as ghosts of a site that was once the exotic playground of all things bizarre and inexplicable, but is now something I really don’t recommend anyone go to in the modern era, lest you wish to find a deluge of medium quality porn tube links.