“Come experience the Amazon Without going into the Amazon!”
The wonders of the Amazon, may not be what you would expect. It might come as a surprise to know that in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, lies a metropolis of over 2 million people. A city who owes its survival to a Free Trade Zone, who’s strong industrial presence in the rainforest goes far beyond self- sufficiency, but has deep ties to the surrounding region, the country, and its international relations.
Amazonia Pier is a phantasmagorical critique of the Free Trade Zone of Manaus, proposing a speculative reinterpretation of the Zone’s industrial belt into a pier of pleasure, and forming a new industrial park at the city’s central harbour, hybridizing the mechanical manufacturing processes of industry with the mechanics of amusement rides, juxtaposing themes of consumerism, manufacturing, tourism and pleasure.
Pleasure piers today are reminiscent of a older era. Where they gained massive popularity alongside larger societal tensions such as industrialisation, immigration and rapid urbanisation, piers and parks of pleasure accommodated a rising demand for leisure, for escape. They’re ultimate demise came about as their novelty ran out with time, the veil, lifted over their implied sense of pleasure, and the gimmick was revealed.
Today, an understanding of these amusement parks as a cheap thrill prevails, and provide the lens of subversion through which the industrial park of Manaus is to be exhibited. Jutting out from the edge of the city with sardonic pride, the pier stands over the Rio Negro, reacquainting the city with its dismissed artery. On an unfamiliar landing stage, to which length will the ‘city in the jungle’ venture to dazzle its patrons in the bizarre spectacle of a manufacturing of pleasure?Click Image or click here to enlarge
Amazonia Pier challenges the consumer’s relationship to the goods he or she consumes through the use of technology. On the one hand through the intimate experience with the production processes by engaging them in a visceral way, and on the other through its larger role within its context, here being the Amazon Rainforest.
This process of bringing consumers closer to the process of making, had to be simplified, reduced, sugar coated, into something the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard calls a “reduction of complexity” which arrises out a lack of understanding of a new paradigm which is replacing an old one that is dying. And it is this misunderstanding and alienation that drives the park in a way. Baudrillard describes a desire for experience, a curiosity for the genuine, the authentic, stemming from this deficit of experience that our lack of comprehension of todays technology creates.
Our craving for the real, being alienated from it, drives us to things like eco tourism, which is a sort of simulated experience , an almost “synthetic tourism”, tourism which is extremely controlled in what is experienced. Yet maybe the better term here is simulated tourism. A tightly framed window onto parts of the world we know little about. and that framing may be deliberate both on the ones who frame our view, and deliberate on our end, however aware of it we may be.
All in all, the patrons, perhaps, leave more alienated than when they arrived yet they’re satisfied. The pleasure and escape they sought having been achieved, their thirst for the “real” Amazon having been quenched. They have played their role and have gotten their reward, yet, what of the cogs in the machine that keep this reality afloat, of the people working in the shadow of the commodity machine you helped feed.
For as long as the desire for a genuine experience stays within the confines of the tight frame put around reality, and as long as we chose a simulated reality over an honest one, the Ferris Wheel will keep turning and Amazonia Pier will continue to dazzle the masses.
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