Monday, June 20, 2016

Commodity in Camden

Camden was an utterly overwhelming experience from start to finish. Approaching the food stalls, I witnessed walkways teeming with bodies attempting to weave from one booth to another, shouts from multiple vendors from every direction, and the smell of exotic foods filling the air. This assault on the senses occurred before even reaching the actual market, setting a precedent for the rest of the outing. The abundance of shops as well as food vendors are forced to compete with one another for the patronage of visitors, and therefore they must publicize what goods they are selling. John Berger notes in his work “Ways of Seeing” that “all of us see hundreds of publicity images every day” and that “no other kind of image confronts us so frequently” (129). This is certainly the case in Camden in which it is impossible to look anywhere and not come into contact with an image of publicity.

The sheer amount of commodities available at Camden provided a sense of spectacle to the market. Guy Debord states that “the fetishism of the commodity...attains its ultimate fulfillment in the spectacle, where the perceptible world is replaced by a selection of images which is projected above it, yet which at the same time succeeds in making itself regarded as the perceptible par excellence” (36). Breaking this down a bit, there is an undeniable “fetishism of the commodity” at Camden with its overabundance of shops. However, the market itself was illusory, as one easily finds themselves lost in the maze of streets, ultimately stumbling onto an underground mall only to find you’ve hardly scratched the surface of what the market has to offer. The apparently never ending rows of shops and stalls therefore replace the perceptible world with “a selection of images which is projected above it,” in this case the images being the countless images of publicity and commodity. However, in the context of the market, these images become so commonplace that they are “regarded as the perceptible” in that they are no longer questioned and instead accepted as reality. The spectacle of Camden is expressed by a sense of “commodity dominating all living experience” (Debord 37). In the world of the market, one’s entire life is rooted in commodity.

A sea of commodity and publicity

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