This article examines YouTube videos (primarily distributed by a user named Cecil Robert) that document so-called dead malls: unpopulated, unproductive, but not necessarily demolished consumerist sites that have proliferated in the wake of the 2008 recession. These works link digital images of mall interiors with pop-song remixes so as to re-create the experience of hearing a track while standing within the empty space; manipulating the songs’ audio frequencies heightens echo effects and fosters an impression of ghostly dislocation. This article argues that these videos locate a potentiality in abandoned mall spaces for the exploration of queer (non)relations. It suggests that the videos’ emphasis on lonely, unconsummated intimacies questions circuitous visions of the public sphere, participatory dynamics online, and the presumably conservative biopolitics (both at its height and in its memorialization) of mall architecture.
I Think We’re Alone Now: Dead Malls and the Queerly Unconsummated
Erin Nunoda is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Her research examines the intersection between sexual isolation, privatization, and media spectatorship, with a particular focus on the 1970s and 1980s. Her writing has been published in Discourse and Velvet Light Trap.
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Erin Nunoda; I Think We’re Alone Now: Dead Malls and the Queerly Unconsummated. Feminist Media Histories 20 October 2020; 6 (4): 183–210. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2020.6.4.183
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