Empty Shop Project 4.0: Re-Viewing Post-Industrial Consumer Culture - Retail Environments as Vague Terrain

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


"Fundamentally, I believe that our high streets are uniquely placed to deliver something new. I believe that they can be lively, dynamic, exciting and social places that give a sense of belonging and trust to a community. That sense of belonging […] has been eroded and, in some instances, eradicated."
(Portas, 2011).
Empty spaces pervade our once rich and vibrant retail centres, increasingly marginalised businesses shut-up shop and uninspired consumers wander the town centre of Huddersfield disconnected from their culture as consumers and community.
Mary Portas, retail expert, government advisor, broadcaster and consumer champion is an advocate for positive change and the reinvigoration of the British high street. She was employed by the government 2011 to produce a report on this and aimed to “put the heart back into the centre of our High Streets, re-imagined as destinations for socialising, culture, health, wellbeing, creativity and learning. Places that will develop and sustain new and existing markets and businesses.’’
How our surroundings affect us is embodied and embedded in patterns of everyday experiences; “… the fearful feeling evoked by the prodigous power of Niagra Falls, the stunning sight of Stonehenge on midsummer morn, the awe induced by Selfridge’s window displays when decked out in their Christmas finery, the breathtakingly brilliant aesthetics of Apple’s spit and polished flagship store in the Big Apple or, conversely, the intuitive sense that a shopping centre is on the slide as discounters occupy space formerly reserved for consumer-captivating, upscale-oriented anchor tenants.” (Brown, 2016)
Andrew Taylor and Katrina Whitehead are ecologically re-mapping the post industrial consumer culture in and around the town centre of Huddersfield. Drawing on inspiration from their walks, they will curate and present a shared vision of how town centres can be experienced through shared data, documents and community involvement.
Re-viewing the subtle spacial codes and signals that surround us, we ask how we can re-connect the liminal retail spaces with the Town’s people to collectively discover a way to create a new and novel vision to a place ? Can our collective ideas make a difference to how we map space, notice and experience spaces and regenerate our retail social spaces?


Portas, M. (2011) “The Portas Review -An Independent review into the future of our high streets” Retrieved from: https://asests.publishing.service.gov.uk.pdf

Brown, S. (2017) “Stanley Hollander’s T-shirt test:where marketing history meets psychogeography”, Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol.9 Issue:1,pp.2 2-16.
Period7 Sep 2018
Event title4th World Congress of Psychogeography
Event typeConference
Conference number4
LocationHuddersfield, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational