Article categories: Issue 63
July 31st, 2009

Your shopping trolley says a lot about you – your secret routines and bad habits. What if your shopping trolley could predict your future, give you a worldly horoscope?…new!shop is a supermarket where everything and nothing is for sale: a seamless shopping experience that tests your senses as well as your principles, a hybrid space where art meets technology and performance meets installation, packaged into an enticing interactive shop front.



Sydney based duo spat+loogie (Kat Baron and Lara Thoms) have cleverly constructed an adverse retail therapy by way of mimicking the familiar and often secretly indulgent aspects of a supermarket environment. Mass consumerism is prodded and pulled apart by way of a mass consumer experiment. Browsing is encouraged but buying discouraged as the familiar constructs of a supermarket are prevalent but slowly deconstructed with each twist in your new!shop journey.

As your basket fills with goodies, the immersive experience grows with the space strategically designed to link seamlessly with customers, performers (staff) and products. The new!shop creators take lo-fi technology and customise it to their requirements; realistically simulating a supermarket check out with 1990′s CCD supermarket scanners and old dot matrix receipt printers. This disused ‘clunky’ equipment is presented alongside contemporary media to create a multi-layered theatrical space with sound, lighting, video and performative elements.

At new!shop you can learn about your slightly sinister purchases such as Plentiful Placebos (pharmaceuticals) or Bright Futures (sunglasses) via live information points where the barcodes (previously downloaded from the Internet and replaced with new product descriptions) are scanned triggering video commercials of your prospective acquisitions.

Trying before you ‘buy’ is welcomed at new!shop: there are taste tests and samples happily delivered by the poker faced new!shop staff. new!shop employees will assist you at will – yet the space also contains triggered elements such as a mass stack of cans falling to the shock of unsuspecting consumers.

Customers do not leave new!shop empty handed. At the conclusion of their shopping trip, baskets are taken to the checkout where new!shop staff dutifully scan their selection.  Based on their purchases, a consumer fortune is predicted and printed as a tangible token.  These horoscopes portray a variety of social ailments closely aligned with ideas of consumer culture.

new!shop is where kitsch and intelligence combine to shoppers’ delight, highlighting elements of learnt cultural behaviors that are subtly sinister, and a uncomfortable reflection of Western values.

Megan Patty
Melbourne based writer Megan Patty is jack of all word trades. Internationally published in the areas of fashion, media and culture. She is both unshockable and unstoppable.

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The following websites provide further information about artists and collectives conceptually engaging in with similar technology and subject matter as new!shop:
The Re-Code website invites shoppers to follow friendly instructions, in order to generate their own barcodes to be used in stores. Shoppers share barcodes with Re-Code, and the barcode for the cheaper priced item is provided via the website for people to print on labels as a substitute to the more expensive barcode at their local store. is a project of the Carbon Defense League, an artist and activist collective affiliated with the tactical media network
The website provides support for independent artists and organisations, and also provides ‘irrational’ information and services for people including cheaper printable barcodes for certain food products in select stores.
US interactive media artist James Patten’s Corporate Fallout Detector can help keep you safe while shopping! It scans barcodes off of consumer products, and makes a clicking noise based on the environmental or ethical record of the manufacturer. Installed at the transmediale.05 festival in Berlin, ‘shoppers’ were able to scan products, with results being determined via an automated software process of combined Internet data.
Barcodeart is a website that includes interactive ‘barcode’ artworks, where you can amongst other things, barcode yourself and barcode noise, as well as access a world of information on barcode products and projects.
Indian artist Shilpa Gupta’s installation and web project Your Kidney Supermarket examines international consumer greed in relation to human organs. The supermarket like installation offers neatly packaged kidneys for sale, and the colourful website cheerfully informs you that your kidney dreams have come true, inviting you to browse your options. But at the price of whom, is the ominous and underlying question?

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