Made-to-measure rhetorical acts from James P. Beasley

RSA Conference Paper 2016: "From Consumption to Critique" Intro

From Consumption to Critique: Augmented Reality as Spectral Change



Hello, and welcome to our panel.  I’m James Beasley from the University of North Florida, and I will be speaking to you today not only about the “Transitions in Environmental Rhetorics,” but also about the “evolution of my own rhetoric on environmental transitions”, specifically as it relates to the environmental transitions of one of North Florida’s most visible spectral sites, the Players golf tournament, which you may have seen just two weeks ago.  In 1980, PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane Bemen and golf course architect Pete Dye eviscerated over 400 acres of northern Florida wetlands to create the TPC Stadium Course, home of The Players golf tournament. In 2006, the course underwent a massive overhaul, including the construction of a 77,000 square foot clubhouse and gift shop. As such, TPC Sawgrass is an ongoing process of spectacle and consumption. By consuming the wetlands surrounding the course, large spectator mounds were created; but by increasing spectral spaces, the greater the increase in consumer expenditures. The rebuilt 77,000 square foot clubhouse, with its appearance of age and permanence, both conceals and reveals its dependence on the elimination of the previous clubhouse with its grass-tiled roof, often eaten by neighboring goats. The cement cartpaths and stone course markers both conceal and reveal its dependence on the elimination of 400 acres of wetlands. This examination was the focus of a book chapter for Jeff Rice’s collection, Florida, published in 2013. In this collection, Jeff Rice writes that the contributors “problematize these spaces as such spaces they have studied or worked in by reading the space’s current status against past history. Some of the contributors trace the benefits and problems of these spaces as such spaces continue to function for the authors as heuristics and sites of invention” (8). So, after the publication of my chapter on TPC Sawgrass in the Florida collection, I became dissatisfied with the permanence of my own critique. I felt as if my own words were too permanent, like the hastily built, artificially constructed 77,000 foot clubhouse.  In the evolution from wetlands to a site of consumption, TPC Sawgrass has become a site of spectral change itself. While the wetlands of Ponte Vedra were altered to create this spectral site of consumption, what if the Stadium course could be altered to create a spectral site of critique? What if I could continue to “read this golf course’s current status against its past history” using forms more adaptable than even a Parlor Press publication? What if I could continue to use TPC Sawgrass as a heuristic and site of invention?  In the spring of 2015, therefore, I approached the University of Florida TRACE Augmented Reality Critique staff about featuring TPC Sawgrass as part of their ongoing commitment to Greg Ulmer’s Electronic Monuments, or Disasters In Action. This paper presents the results of using Augmented Reality software to create an augmented critical experience at the Players Tournament, altering the cycle of spectacle and consumption inherent in the TPC site. For this project, the most visible spaces on the course were chosen as “trigger images”: the clubhouse, the famous 17th island green, and the “parade of flags.” These three spaces in particular are highly visible narratives. Providing counter, critical narratives of predatory capitalism, ecological devastation, and white privilege, therefore, changes these spaces from sites of consumption to those of critique.  What I would like to do with the remainder of my time, then is to discuss some of the overarching theory for the TRACE Augmented Reality project, then discuss specific sites at the TPC Sawgrass course and how those have been digitally altered to return these sites of consumption back into sites of critique.