When Victor Gruen designed the first enclosed shopping complex, he envisioned it to operate as a communal gathering site – a balance of commerce, entertainment and art, with the intention of reducing the necessity of cars and to reinvigorate a sense of community. Ultimately, Gruen’s vision failed as these mega structures only contributed to the suburban sprawl he attempted to combat. Two years before Gruen’s death, he renounced his utopic vision, claiming: “I would like to take this opportunity to disclaim paternity once and for all. I refuse to pay alimony to those bastard developments. They destroyed our cities.”
For the Te Tuhi Billboards, Hikalu Clarke co-opts the visual vocabulary of advertising and retail developers to question how these ‘public’ arenas entrench hegemonic power and operate as hubs for data procurement. Situated on the outer wall of Pakuranga Plaza, Clarke’s CG images reflect the fortress-like construction of these mega-structures. Comprised of abstracted details taken from video stills, the billboards speak a network language linked by captions taken from yearly performance reports. The language used is both painfully optimistic, and at times inhuman and cold.
Site-Specific Hoardings - EyeContact