83_Jordan Whitewood-Neal: The Narcissist Bakery

Jordan Whitewood-Neal 

Information/bio:  I study architecture at the University For the Creative Arts in Canterbury, This september I began my third year which kicked off with self driven 4 week design project around the theme of protest. My interest in commodity and the psychology of narcissism came heavily into the project and allowed me to explore global issues at a micro scale. 

The Narcissist Bakery - An Exploration Into Economic

Dichotomy Through the Commodity of Bread 

Statement/concept:  Tower Hamlets exists as an area of stark social and economic division, a division resulting in a patchwork of centralised power zones and vast densified spaces of deprivation and poverty. At the center of economic growth and development lies the consumption of Commodities, and with Commodity comes the theory of narcissism. Commodity narcissism, a theory developed by Robert Cluley discusses the cultural phenomenon of mindless consumption, regardless of its roots of production and exploitation. 

Throughout the world the view of certain commodities, their value, importance and symbolism, changes. One of the common and prominent examples of which, is Bread. Ignoring it’s diverse taxonomy of types between different countries, bread has always represented the concept of commodity at its most fundamental level, and has even in many cases throughout the middle east been used as a totem for protest. 

In order to Catalyse a Dialogue About this idea through the concept of protest my activist and his Crib are designed around the idea of production, creating a hyperbolised space, in which the baking and distribution of the commodity is made into a social event. Its daily function comprises of a perpetual production, feeding into the local infrastructure of housing, cycle routes and the local school as sources of consumers. A process of exchange between the activist and public consists of the bread, toasted kindly with the message of “you are a narcissist”, much to the pleasure of the unbewildered consumer. Throughout the day this exchange continues, with the kiln smoke and amorous bread aroma collecting in his canvas balloon. 

While this goes on, the activist is knowingly engaging with a wider scale social manipulation. Two characters, unknown to them are being slowly drawn from their regular routes throughout the city. These two characters epitomise the cities economic dichotomy, to one bread is a commodity, to the other it is preservation. And that is always the case, we all exist along a doughy spectrum, from white bread to ciabatta. As they attempt to converge on their regular routes a group of activists place themselves strategically, using a bespoke BreadPipe, expelling smells to attract and detract the characters from locations, creating a new route through the city. As this manipulation converges the two on the same path, they encounter the bread Crib, and in a sudden explosion of air the contained aroma catalyses the final attraction to the activist. 

They descend mindlessly onto the Crib, desiring their commodity, their preservation, regardless of place, name, context, culture, class, economy, they have only one need. The activists hand them their bread, homogenised beyond affiliation, printed still with the phrase “you are a narcissist”. Bemused, they converse.’