Fuller…Chapter 5: The Picture Palace

It never ceases to amaze me how thin the veil of class divisions are, how alike we all really are, that, at the very heart of things, everyone wants to experience the same fundamental feelings and exercise the same natural senses.

The other day I was in Burlington with a few friends and we stumbled upon a multimedia art exhibit that broached this very subject – among other things, it consisted of a large, interactive touch screen called "I Want You to Want Me"– a study of human wants and desires, specifically in regards to love and dating.

Now what amazed me about this piece, and what is consequently relevant to my comment on basic human similarity, is the  overwhelming homogeny of our emotional lives: people want/experience the same feelings – across age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, sexual orientation, we all experience daily interactions between our senses, our emotions, and our expectations that defy stereotypes and statistics.

Now apply this to art, and we see a transparent trend. We all enjoy the same feelings, these experiences merely shift and adapt to suit our cultural and societal context. The Picture Palace was a way of channeling the upscale legitimacy of the Opera, of the Theatre. The soft seats and suited ushers pampered and preened the higher classes until they felt sufficiently sedated and at home enough to loosen their shirt collars and enjoy the show – they were served what they wanted, the affirmation of their superior social standing, and the relief of audience homogeny.

Picture Palace : Nickelodeon as Burlesque : Strip Club – Different ways of staging and fulfilling basic human desires.