Image trade

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Street scene in Chemainus, British Columbia

Mural in Chemainus, British Columbia

Any postmodern image trade is from one point of view just a business, and there is a legitimate Baudrillardian point to asking: What is a business today? What is being sold? To whom? What is stimulating or fulfilling what desire? Who are we when we visit the town? But we should be wary of the tempting simplifications suggested by such questions.

The people in Chemainus do now have an oddly doubled life. It would be interesting to know if and how their rhythms of work and leisure, their topics of conversation and modes of socializing with one another have changed. With the mural business the place has become more complex, not less. Some of the roles have become thinner, but complexity and thinness are not necessarily opposed.

What should concern us is not a town like Chemainus becoming an image of itself, but the simplifying of inhabitation even in prosperous non-tourist towns. To replace multiply complex thick roles with more abstract roles is to weaken the texture of a place.