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The book presents a never-before-written case study of the UK-based organisation Secret Cinema – widely considered the leading provider of large-scale immersive experiences in the UK. They are used as a lens through which to understand the wider experiential economy. The book provides a comprehensive and encyclopaedic history of the organisation and its productions. It defines and examines the Secret Cinema format. It critically interrogates the work and operations of Secret Cinema as an organisation and analyses the many layers of audience experience. It combines rigorous academic study with practical industry insight that has been informed by more than fifty in-depth interviews with Secret Cinema practitioners and sector professionals who have worked on immersive productions in areas including performance direction, acting, video design, sound design and composition, lighting design, special effects, stage management, operations and merchandising. Framed within the context of the UK in late-2019, at which point the immersive sector had grown significantly, both through its increasing contribution to UK GDP and its widespread and global recognition as a legitimate cultural offering, we have captured an organisation and a sector that is in transition from marginal and sub-cultural roots to a commodifiable and commercial form, now with recognisable professional roles and practices, which has contributed to the establishment of an immersive experience industry of national importance and global reach. This book will appeal to scholars, students, film fans, immersive experience professionals and their audiences. It is written in an accessible style with rich case study materials and illustrative examples.

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Fear and the new home front

Domestic Fortress offers a critical analysis of the contemporary home and its close relationship to fear and security. It considers the important connection between the private home, political life and the economy that we term tessellated neoliberalism. The book considers the nucleus of the domestic home as part of a much larger archipelago frontline of homes and gated communities that appear as a new home front set against diverse sources of social anxiety. These range from questions of invasion (such as burglary or identity theft) to those of security (the home as a financial resource in retirement and as a place of refuge in an unpredictable world). A culture of fear has been responded to through increasingly emphatic retreats by homeowners into fortified dwellings, palatial houses, concealed bunker pads and gated developments. Many feature elaborate security measures; alarms, CCTV systems, motion-sensing lights and impregnable panic rooms. Domestic Fortress locates the anxieties driving these responses to the corporate and political manufacturing of fear, the triumph of neoliberal models of homeownership and related modes of social individualisation and risk that permeate society today. Domestic Fortress draws on perspectives and research from criminology, urban studies and sociology to offer a sense of the private home as a site of wavering anxiety and security, exclusion and warmth, alongside dreams of retreat and autonomy that mesh closely with the defining principles of neoliberal governance.

Even as the home is acknowledged to play a vital role in sheltering us from the elements so it has now come to be a locus around which many anxieties are shut-out. The home allows us to lock out the daily hardships of life, but is also a site from which we witness a wide range of troubling phenomena: the insecurities of the workplace, plans for our future welfare, internationalized terror, geo-political warfare, ecological catastrophes, feelings of loss and uncertainty around identity, to say nothing of the daily risks of flood, fire and other disasters.

The home now plays a complex dual role that slips between offering us protection from these worries while also offering the nightmare of its own possible invasion, erosion or destruction. On top of these concerns entire industries have been built that sell a war against strangers, dirt and disaster. This of course includes the insurance industry itself, but also the use of technologies that both protect the home and make it effectively more impregnable to casual social contact as well as the proliferation of products devoted to domestic cleanliness. Domestic Fortress considers the fantasies and realities of dangers to the contemporary home and its inhabitants and details the wide range of actions taken in the pursuit of total safety.

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Rowland Atkinson
and
Sarah Blandy

Introduces the argument that in the early twenty first century the private home has become a key battleground in a social politics focused on fear, pre-emptive action and architectural fortification. Films, books, fairytales and myths are explored to underline the central importance of the home. Layers of complex and contested meanings have accreted over the basic need for shelter. The role of the home in providing haven, status and privacy, boosted today by celebrity culture, has longstanding philosophical and legal justifications. These have become embedded in everyday life, and their importance is shown through the use of metaphors emphasising the home as a kind of fortress space. We outline the idea that growing rates of homeownership in the UK, the US and Australia, encouraged by neoliberal governments, have led to a perception of housing as wealth rather than as ‘home’. At the same time the concept of a risk society has led to a widespread culture of fear, provoking a withdrawal into the home and an emphasis on control as the primary attribute of legal ownership.

in Domestic fortress
Rowland Atkinson
and
Sarah Blandy

This chapter paints in some of the background to the process by which the contemporary fortress home has become normalised. Social changes in the second half of the twentieth century have accompanied a shift from more communal ways of life and collective responses to risk and insecurity, to much more individual perspectives. Neoliberal governments have complemented this trajectory with policies designed to encourage ownership, a project advantaged by engendering a fear of crime. However, at the same time as owners have come to see their homes as commodified financial assets, the state has increasingly withdrawn its guarantee to protect households from crime and disorder. This has meant that the home has taken on the role of assuring the survival of the familial unit against an ongoing assault on public systems of assistance. The need to defend this asset / haven is further exaggerated by media accounts of the elaborate security measures employed to protect the homes of celebrities and the wealthy, which feed perceptions of home as both a site of vulnerability, and of prestige and status.

in Domestic fortress
Rowland Atkinson
and
Sarah Blandy

This chapter considers the meaning and importance of more psychological aspects of the private home. Homeownership has been argued to provide us with a deep sense of security of being in troubled times, when trust in community has been lost. Psychoanalytic and sociological theories of consumption practices are used here to examine the role of psychic development as it occurs within the home. Two functions of the home in particular are examined here, illustrated through fairy stories, fiction and films. First, the home's role as a bridge or mediator to the public world outside the home, meaning that a child's preparation for the outside world is largely dependent on parental perceptions of risk and insecurity. Second, the private (fearful) world inside what Freud termed the unheimlich home, hiding dreadful secrets. The current emphasis on control of outsiders' access to the home, and the developing culture of respecting others' homes as entirely private places, may make the home a domestic prison for its less powerful residents: women and children. Feminist analyses of the development of gender roles in the home and data on domestic violence show the dark underbelly of the sanctified private home. Although some homes are havens, others can be the site of domestic slavery and even more disturbing examples of power and abuse, such as Fred West, and the imprisonment of Fritzl's daughter in Austria and Jaycee Dugard in the US.

in Domestic fortress
Rowland Atkinson
and
Sarah Blandy

This chapter focuses on the risks that are perceived to threaten the home. Not only do problems like burglary loom large in a fearful public imagination, contemporary life presents us with new problems and terrors which may invade the home, for example identity theft, predatory paedophiles, telesales and so on. The longstanding legal importance of boundaries indicates the difficulties of ensuring control over the undisturbed privacy of the home. The chapter discusses the extent to which homeownership can ensure absolute control, as against the powers of the state as well as against neighbours and varied invasions of privacy.

in Domestic fortress
Rowland Atkinson
and
Sarah Blandy

This chapter focuses on fear of crime, and particularly on the fear of home invasion (burglary). It links back to the ways in which we are taught to fear in our childhood homes, and the contemporary forces which continue to boost the perceived need for home defence. Data on burglary rates and fear of crime are deconstructed, and the interconnected roles of the media and of government in feeding fear are analysed. We suggest that the news media's singular focus on rare and horrific events have a cumulative and traumatic effect on our perceptions of the relative safety of the home. The chapter also looks at the treatment of the home, crime and fear in popular culture, through fiction, films and videogames which highlight terrorised occupants and invaded homes.

in Domestic fortress
Rowland Atkinson
and
Sarah Blandy

Defence has always been a primary element in home design; this chapter traces the ebbs and flows of fortification over time, tracing back the contemporary alternative features of withdrawal and aggressive defence to their origins. These responses, mirroring the well-known 'flight or fight' reactions, are illustrated through reference to celebrity homes and incidents of crimes against them. Here we address the technologies and architectural features which are designed to counter the risks that assail the home as haven and the fears passed on from parents which inform our internalised expectations as adults. Diverse forms of home protection and insurance have become the central and non-negotiable demands of increasingly affluent western societies, and meeting these demands has boosted the profits of security companies. We argue that the recent increase in defensive technologies has turned homes into the architectural representation of our fears, from which we can never be truly free. We now fear to stop fearing, with the contemporary homeowner forever in a state of heightened anxiety.

in Domestic fortress
Rowland Atkinson
and
Sarah Blandy

Here we discuss the balance of responsibility between the state and the individual homeowner to protect the home, against the background of a lack of confidence in governments' ability to prevent crime and the rising sense of victimhood in popular culture and criminal justice systems. The focus of this chapter is on the legal position of the homeowner who uses lethal force in defence of their home. Illustrated by high-profile cases, developments in the law on defence and revenge are analysed and comparisons are made between the US, the UK and Australia.

in Domestic fortress
Rowland Atkinson
and
Sarah Blandy

Homes and entire neighbourhoods are increasingly organised around defensive principles, the rise of gated homes and the domestic fortress itself are architectural motifs that have become normalised in many suburbs and districts. Taken together these shifts mean that a more prickly and defended form of homeownership has arisen in which the result is the endgame of a neoliberalism that penetrates the innermost civic and domestic spheres of our lives.

in Domestic fortress