29 votes

The Existential Void of the Pop-Up ‘Experience’

16 comments

  1. [15]
    NubWizard Link
    As someone who isn't on social media in any meaningful form, this article was a bit eye opening to me on the lengths people will go to for a selfie in a dingy, grimy 'fun house'. Its really...

    As someone who isn't on social media in any meaningful form, this article was a bit eye opening to me on the lengths people will go to for a selfie in a dingy, grimy 'fun house'. Its really difficult for me to understand why these things exist and what people are getting out of them. I ask this a bit jokingly but is there something that is missing in our society that these things fill? It makes me feel like I live in a world full of clowns performing for each other. I realize my impression of these things is a bit soap boxish and I will be the first to say I'm out of touch with internet culture but I dunno?

    20 votes
    1. [12]
      Deimos Link Parent
      It's a really interesting (and honestly kind of bizarre) phenomenon if you think about it. As the article talks about, these places seem to mostly exist for people to go there and take photos of...

      It's a really interesting (and honestly kind of bizarre) phenomenon if you think about it. As the article talks about, these places seem to mostly exist for people to go there and take photos of themselves to post on social media. The goal of doing that is for your friends to see a photo of you in a whimsical place like the "Museum of Ice Cream" or whatever, and have them be jealous that you're at such a cool place having so much fun. But, in reality... you're not having fun, there's not even anything fun there, the only thing to do is take the photos. You're making them jealous of an experience that doesn't even exist.

      It's pretty fascinating, really. It's almost like a commercialized, miniature form of Paris Syndrome in some ways.

      21 votes
      1. [7]
        kfwyre Link Parent
        Why do we assume there's some sort of experiential vacancy for everyone that goes there though? Certainly the author felt that her experiences were hollow, but she also was doing it for her job...

        Why do we assume there's some sort of experiential vacancy for everyone that goes there though? Certainly the author felt that her experiences were hollow, but she also was doing it for her job and went to far more than the average person probably ever would.

        To me they seemed like something novel to do with friends--like mini-golf or an escape room. Go, have a good time with each other, take some neat photos you wouldn't get otherwise, and leave no better or worse for wear. Does there have to be a deeper meaning to it for it to be worthwhile? Does a focus on pictures mean the enjoyment is fundamentally staged?

        9 votes
        1. [5]
          NubWizard Link Parent
          I'm not bashing the author of the article for going to these things, I'm more flabbergasted that it even is a thing that people would go to and care about. Mini Golf and Escape Rooms are a blast,...

          I'm not bashing the author of the article for going to these things, I'm more flabbergasted that it even is a thing that people would go to and care about. Mini Golf and Escape Rooms are a blast, these seem like its an investment to get pictures for your instagram to appear like you are having fun.

          My view is that the things you value most are the things you are willing to put both time and money into, the more time and money, the more you value it. The way the author describes these things as long lines to get into rooms that are filthy, grimy, and dingy to take glamorous selfies, just escapes me.

          I don't think there has to be a deeper meaning for it to be worthwhile. Plenty of things that are simple and relatively meaningless are worthwhile to someone out there. But this is something that has been linked to mental illness. These pop-up museums are banking on the desire for their customers to want to post glamor selfies for likes or whatever to drive business. The whole thing feels icky to me.

          But I get what you are saying. Like I mentioned in my first post, I am out of touch with internet culture and the things people like. Your last question prompted me to remember a story about Lao Tzu. LAo Tzu would allow a student to accompany him on his evening walk on condition that complete silence would be maintained. Coming to a ridge in the mountain, a student forgot the rule and blurted out 'what a beautiful sunset!' Lao Tzu turned back in reprimand. When his other students asked what had gone wrong, Lao Tzu shared a piece of wisdom, 'When that student uttered 'what a beautiful sunset', he was not watching the sunset. He was only watching his words.'

          To me, the desire for taking many pictures takes away from the enjoyment that you experience that prompts you to take a picture in the first place by trying to capture it in a picture.

          7 votes
          1. alopex Link Parent
            Well, I think these pop-ups and things like escape rooms and mini golf focus on a different type of experience. To some people, experiencing a certain aesthetic is fun. To go into a museum of ice...

            Well, I think these pop-ups and things like escape rooms and mini golf focus on a different type of experience. To some people, experiencing a certain aesthetic is fun. To go into a museum of ice cream, for example, where you see things that engender feelings of whimsy, of magical realism, that you wouldn't see in your everyday reality, is fun. It makes you feel different. Taking photos of yourself or your friends in this altered reality can be fun. It is kind of like why people like to go to contemporary art museums.
            I definitely think that the critique based on charging exorbitant amounts of money for people to get in or creating half-assed versions of this because people know it will get likes or drive business is a criqitue more of capitalism than of the idea that ice cream museums or other things of that nature are trying to communicate. That's my opinion anyways.

            4 votes
          2. [3]
            Ochre Link Parent
            Lao Tzu sounds like a dick.

            Lao Tzu sounds like a dick.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              NubWizard (edited ) Link Parent
              Sure, but Lao Tzu was driving the point to the monk that you aren't experiencing the moment when you punctuate it with words or try to capture it. If you would like to hear more about this story...

              Sure, but Lao Tzu was driving the point to the monk that you aren't experiencing the moment when you punctuate it with words or try to capture it. If you would like to hear more about this story and where I originally heard it, here is the link:

              https://youtu.be/USC5MJVZLy8?t=16m28s

              Of course I would recommend the entire video if you are curious about Buddhism or just want to hear a talk about quieting* the mind.

              Edit: Corrected quitting to quieting*

              1 vote
              1. alopex Link Parent
                I guess my initial uneasiness about that quote is: what is human experience if not shared? If a sunset is beautiful, isn't it also beautiful to want to share that with a companion? Isn't that the...

                I guess my initial uneasiness about that quote is: what is human experience if not shared? If a sunset is beautiful, isn't it also beautiful to want to share that with a companion? Isn't that the point of art? Does that make art less meaningful? I dunno, it seems to have logical implications that I'm not a fan of. I don't see anything inherently wrong with sharing positive feelings you have with others. We exist as social creatures who need each other. No man is an island and all that. As a counterpoint, I really enjoy hiking by myself sometimes because I can be with my thoughts in nature and sometimes that's really enjoyable to me. So I'm not saying we can't experience things solitarily. Just that sharing something doesn't devalue it or make it less 'pure'.

                2 votes
        2. somewaffles Link Parent
          The fact that tickets can be as pricey as $45 just to walk around, look at stuff, take pictures and maybe eat food is what sat wrong with me. It's a clear indicator they are using peoples...

          The fact that tickets can be as pricey as $45 just to walk around, look at stuff, take pictures and maybe eat food is what sat wrong with me. It's a clear indicator they are using peoples obsession with identity through social media to make a quick buck. I'm sure a lot of these are fun but if they are as prevalent and expensive as the author makes out, it just seems sketchy to me. That's the price of a mid-level seat at a concert.

          But obviously people can spend money how they want. I can get the point of view that it's just a place to go with friends to have a good time.

          4 votes
      2. [4]
        Ochre Link Parent
        Firstly, thanks for introducing me to Paris Syndrome. Secondly, I think you may be underestimating how neat these places are and overestimating how important making other people jealous is to...

        Firstly, thanks for introducing me to Paris Syndrome. Secondly, I think you may be underestimating how neat these places are and overestimating how important making other people jealous is to those who visit them. You sort of just invented something to be fascinated by. Have you personally been to one of these? If you're in the San Diego area(South California), I'd recommend one called "Wonderspaces". There are some mediocre exhibits, but most of them are well thought out and have an underlying layer of "but how tho". If you're not in the area, I'd recommend visiting one with friends and then posting your experiences. I'd like to hear about them.

        2 votes
        1. [3]
          Deimos (edited ) Link Parent
          I'm sure you can have fun at them and that there are some neat things to see, but I think in the end it comes down to this: how many people go to a place like this, don't take any photos at all,...

          I'm sure you can have fun at them and that there are some neat things to see, but I think in the end it comes down to this: how many people go to a place like this, don't take any photos at all, and just enjoy the experience itself? It seems to be very few, so it's pretty clear what the primary draw is. Just from a quick skim down the Yelp reviews of Wonderspaces:

          Most of the time, if you waited a bit you would have plenty of room to take your pictures

          There was only one or two exhibits that I really liked which was the Submergence. Primarily because it was what you see on the IG Feed, Instagram worthy. Colorful lights? You just have to aim that no one else appears in your shot as patrons shuffle in and out.

          It's every BASIC B*TCH'S wet dream! 20 exhibits to boost your clout on your Instagram. I took about 10 pictures of exhibits in this place and I only got 1 picture where there wasn't a narcissistic Asian girl taking endless selfies in the background.

          Of course I had seen pictures and my friends' social media posts and it looked amazing. Without giving away too much, I'll just say once inside, I was unimpressed. A couple of the exhibits were pretty great and made for sweet photo ops but others were just lame.

          Submergence-Seriously, give yourself 45 minutes for this exhibit alone. It's all about timing for this one. But photos they produce...wow!..You're IG feed will be lit!

          Great little exhibit for some amazing Instagram pictures.

          Wonderspaces has about 10 installments to look at and about 5 of them were my favorite ones because they were interactive and great for pics.

          I only really liked two or three exhibits. There best one is the one with the lights - however as another review mentioned - if you're trying to take a photo you'll be standing there for about ten minutes until the lights come on bright enough for you to get a good photo. If you're not interested in using this experience for Instagram worthy photos - there are a few other things that are cool to look at and experience.

          This wasn't cherry-picking, I just went down the reviews shown by default and think I only skipped one. Wonderspaces even sounds like it's less geared towards this than some of the others. At least it sounds like it has some actual "exhibits" and experiences you can interact with, whereas some of them like the Museum of Ice Cream seem to have nothing to do except move from one photo location to the next: https://www.wired.com/story/selfie-factories-instagram-museum/

          4 votes
          1. Ochre Link Parent
            I think a place can include takings pictures (and even sharing those pictures) as part of the experience itself. I obviously have different goals when I go, but even if the main attraction was to...

            I think a place can include takings pictures (and even sharing those pictures) as part of the experience itself. I obviously have different goals when I go, but even if the main attraction was to take pictures in neat situations (like a pit full of sprinkles, like your Cream link), I don't think the goal has to be as malicious as "make others jealous". It's not something I'd be interested in doing, but I can see the appeal of photo studios that would let me take pictures with things that normally don't exist.

            As far as the yelp reviews go: The reviews you mentioned are there, but you've cropped a few (you cut the first quote short of its actual sentence end, for example), skipped over a few (specifically the second review on Yelp, right between your first two quotes, that doesn't mention photos --You mentioned you skipped it, and then the first/fifth(?) about the mother and her "adult"(interested word choice) children enjoying the exhibit), and misrepresented some (like the third quote, which gave the place a one-star review because he's not a "self-absorbed instagram 'model' looking for the perfect venue to get my clout on fleek"). I don't think I need to explain why it's unfair to do those things. I do apologize, I didn'trealize the place had closed. It was cool while it lasted. Here's the LINK for anyone else who wants to take a look.

            Maybe I'm misunderstanding your point, but it just seems like a lot of people in this thread are railing against places like this because it seems like their main attraction is for people to take pictures. Somehow this also means that these places can't ALSO be fun, or that fun is somehow diminished when taking photos is involved. I'm not even one of the ones posting all these photos on Instagram and it just sounds a little "Old man Yells at Cloud" to me.

            edit: I repeat words when I'm typing sometimes.

            2 votes
          2. alopex Link Parent
            Hmm. I'd never read the Yelp reviews - (I went to Wonderspaces as well) though admittedly I found the exhibit on Instagram. I think this is leaning more towards a critique on social media than a...

            Hmm. I'd never read the Yelp reviews - (I went to Wonderspaces as well) though admittedly I found the exhibit on Instagram. I think this is leaning more towards a critique on social media than a critique of these places. It's clear that you feel some contempt for people who feel driven to share photos of themselves or curate a narrative of their lives through social media. I definitely agree there is a conversation to be had about why we enjoy this or what social capital is gets us. But I think, honestly, that you're overgeneralizing people who go to these things. I guess as someone who would totally go to the ice cream museum and post about it on Instagram (though I'd be less likely to pay $45 if there wasn't something actually thought provoking involved) I feel a little attacked, haha. I don't think I'm doing it out if some vacuous urge to make others jealous - though I acknowledge that we can't always be aware of the root cause of every motivation we have. I just like aesthetics and photography, and it's fun to share that stuff and have other people express that they like it as well.

            1 vote
    2. [2]
      Ochre Link Parent
      I've been to a couple of these things and they have been fun. The exhibits themselves were entertaining, with a few that were genuinely awesome. Mostly, it was a fun social interaction: we shared...

      I've been to a couple of these things and they have been fun. The exhibits themselves were entertaining, with a few that were genuinely awesome. Mostly, it was a fun social interaction: we shared some time together looking at all these weird and interesting things. Weook a couple of selfies, and even shared a couple of them on Instagram(well, I didn't. But photos were shared). I'm fairly out of touch with internet culture as well but it's not easy to see that some people just like experiencing interesting things with other people and sharing it online.

      6 votes
      1. dubteedub Link Parent
        What was your favorite one of these that you went to? I am interested to hear what the exhibits were like.

        What was your favorite one of these that you went to? I am interested to hear what the exhibits were like.

  2. nothis Link
    Bizarre! Never heard of this trend, it looks like cheap theme park fun houses, only with $45 (?!?) tickets and hour long waiting lines, all to get selfie opportunities. I clicked the link to the...

    There is one way these experiences are better than real life. Standing on the lip of the Grand Canyon, taking in the Mona Lisa at the Louvre or witnessing a seal pup shimmy onto a rock, we might pull out our phone to take a picture, only to find that what we experienced as grand feels dinky through the lens. But these experiences often look cheap and grimy in person. They’re made to pop on camera.

    Bizarre! Never heard of this trend, it looks like cheap theme park fun houses, only with $45 (?!?) tickets and hour long waiting lines, all to get selfie opportunities. I clicked the link to the Yayoi Kusama exhibition, which they supposedly ripped off, and it’s striking how much more meaningful equally “artificial” stuff can feel if it’s done with a real vision. How sad!

    4 votes