Friday, March 19, 2010

"Flooded McDonald's" Video

"Flooded McDonald's" is a short video in which a "convincing life-size replica" of a McDonald's is gradually filled with water. Prepared food, wrappers, drink cups, toys and trays float through the restaurant; the furniture and trash cans begin to float; the "restaurant's" electrical grid short circuits; "eventually the space becomes completely submerged."

Watching the clip several times, I found myself experiencing a range of feelings -- at some moments it seemed comical and prank-like, at others calming and serene, at still others disturbing. Almost inevitably, it made me think of T.S. Eliot's famous poem "The Wasteland," which treats the "new" landscape of modern life (the poem was written in 1922) as an object of suspicion and despair because it undoes the cultural certainties that supposedly came before it, particularly through the development of "mass" or pop culture that is such an important part of the Modern world. The poem includes a section which describes the river Thames, which runs through London, as one of many featured "waste lands":
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.

In contrast to Eliot, "Flooded McDonald's" seems to relocate the river itself inside the landscape of pop culture. The water is both a destructive force and completely contained or controlled by the pop culture environment it's introduced into, since the "restaurant" is sealed. In this sense, the video expresses a desire to destroy this environment and an inability to do so. Of course it's the floating trash that made me think of Eliot, but it also strikes me that to make such an elaborate replica of a restaurant and then flood it and destroy it says something about American "fast food culture" -- the culture of instant gratification and disposable goods that is larger than fast food, but easily represented by it.

Anyway, I came across this piece and thought I'd throw it out there. Whatever you make of the video, it's a strange and interesting response to one of our main topics of discussion this semester.

The video was made by the art collective Superflex in 2009. You can see film and production stills, and read about the project at the Superflex web site.

1 comment:

  1. That's a rather interest analysis Professor. I didn't analyze it as thoroughly as you did, as I simply laughed throughout. It just seemed way too comical to me, but I do agree that the water is pretty symbolic as a destructive force... one I often still feel submerged in every now and then.