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“The audience wanted to be ‘of it’; that we had made the rediscovery of our bodies, lost these many centuries, and that we were feeling a new consciousness, a sentiment of solidarity like some suddenly revealed categorical imperative. We have ceased to be spectators. In the stage which we had now reached, this rather undignified role was growing irksome to us. So we are trying to give ourselves a change of air, and our old formulas have been scattered to the four winds of free Heaven. Dance and living statuary now form part of an undefined repertoire, which merges at last into games.”

-Adolphe Appia, stage designer and theorist, 1967

The Reality Theatre


The Lure & Blur of the Real

What if we designed stores as stages where the activity of shopping is a script for new stories to emerge? Shopping is a public performance whose drama is set at stores—theatres where you can be both performer and spectator. Today, shopping architecture is the most common form of “third places”—spaces for public activities where one can see and be seen—whose settings play an essential role in the staging and shaping of history and culture. However, with the rise of online shopping and cyberspace, today, shops and malls are facing rapid obsolescence. To counter this, I propose that stores should be transformed into playgrounds for experiences, where consumers become actors with the ability to perform, spectate, play and indulge themselves in the environment—features that reflect the wants and needs of people in the Ludic century. These qualities manifest in my design of the Reality Theatre, an extrapolation and prediction of the next urban shopping machine, which is an experience stager of limitless abilities. Here, staged experiences that link the digital and physical worlds, allow the hyperaudience to customise and play, and blur reality and commercialism are the next Gesamtkunstwerk form and typology of the shopping machine.

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Chapter 1


Performance & Gesamtkunstwerk

Storytelling, Gesamtkunstwerk, Hyper-Audience, Third Place and Alternate Reality

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Chapter 2


Shopping Environments

Shopping as Evolution, Program, Logic, Machine, Instrument and Form

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Chapter 3


A New Machine

Experience Economy, Performance, Layered Reality, Public Self, Public Reality Theater

This website was created as a non-linear experience of my Masters thesis at the Design Academy Eindhoven. It is a platform for my research, a place to add, link, or delete ideas or media.  This website was made for educational/creative purposes. I do not own the rights to all the images presented. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at crankallison@gmail.com