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spat & loogie, new!shop spat & loogie, new!shop
Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962) is an iconic reminder of the postmodern experience of shopping. Faced with an image that proffers repetition without difference our eyes ceaselessly scan the surface, never able to find a place to rest or a point on which to focus. This is supermarket glaze.

Enter new!shop, a new media performance installation by the Sydney based duo spat & loogie, supported by a dedicated cast including the talented and po-faced Mr Teik-Kim Pok. Part of the 2006 Next Wave festival’s Empire Games, new!shop is a cheeky, ironic event that pits our everyday experience against a taste of the near future where branding alone will be deemed sufficient to fulfil our shopping desires. “Wanna buy some air?” says the crook to a gullible Bert in Sesame Street. As he takes the stopper out of the bottle and pours nothingness into Bert’s open palm, he continues, “I’m not sellin’ the bottle.” This is the experience of new!shop.

new!shop is a cross between supermarket jaundice, 24/7 and Play School, a place where shoppers of the future cut their teeth, repeating and reiterating the habitual behaviours of their parents. The press blurb reads:

Enter new!shop…An ‘unretail’ space where shopping is encouraged but buying is not.…Play the sport of market research. Fill your basket and find your destiny.

In new!shop shoppers find themselves at the mercy of the shopping machine. As scanners set up a background rhythm, shoppers, eyes glazed, glide around the aisles as if on wheels, murmuring demurely amongst themselves as they select this and that from the goods on offer. They fill their baskets to the max. Promotional stands tout their wares, loud and blurred. PA announcements make no sense, alarms go off but shoppers being shoppers keep shopping. In the world of self-service the attendant sentinels practice indifference and shoppers busy themselves scanning goods and trying on wares with no expectation that there might be service here.

A hapless customer knocks over a display. She moves away in embarrassment, hoping against hope that her faux pas will go unnoticed. A dour and resentful shelf filler is called to fix the mess. Paranoia heightens; an alarm goes off as I try a Fear Mask for size. Caught on camera I am frogmarched to the front of the store where I face humiliation as the inscrutable manager (Teik-Kim Pok) conducts a thorough body search. The whole shop rubbernecks to see ‘who done it.’ Crisis over, the muzak re-asserts itself and shoppers return to the shopping glide and glaze.

I take my booty to the checkout and have it scanned: Achievement, Irrational Desire, Bright Future, Power and Authority and a DIY Botox Kit. Achievement builds a collection that makes you stand proud; Irrational Desire gives you all the love that you can buy and the Bright Future sun glasses provide the ultimate prophylactic to protect you from the store itself. What I buy predicts my consumer fortune. “See the blinding light,” my docket promises. “The patterns and routines in your world may become hostage to an overwhelming 800 watt glow. Now it’s time to take charge. Beware of empty slogans offering potential life improvements. To keep your mental environment in check, breathe deeply and keep moving beyond the superficially seductive. Expect great rewards if you keep on track.”

And for being such a sucker, the bell tolls and suddenly I am in the limelight: shopper of the hour...or something to that effect. The attendant sentinels slowly surround me smiling their vacuous smiles. I am topped with a crown, a Polaroid is taken and all returns to normal.

THANK YOU, PLEASE CALL AGAIN.


See page 48 for new!shop’s appearance at CCAS, Canberra.

new!shop, creators spat & loogie, performers Teik-Kim Pok, Kenzie McKenzie, Naomi Derrick; sound The Toecutter; software developer Benhamin Meneses-Sosa; Meat Market, Arts House, Melbourne March 22-April 1

RealTime issue #73 June-July 2006 pg. 2

© Barbara Bolt; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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