Displace and Discount

Liam Mullen, 2-channel video installation, footage from Walmart Blue Nintendo 2DS©, synthesized audio drawn from Animal Crossing: New Leaf and field recordings, 3:33, 2020

The town of Huntsville belongs to the Muskoka Region, a collection of seasonal communities that rely on summer tourism to employ and create an economic base for the year-round residents. Huntsville was rather untouched by major corporations—until the construction of Walmart in the early 2000s.

In placing Walmart on the land in which it currently stands, the corporation created a displacement of animals and interruption of breeding that has interrupted the local ecosystem. Both in developing a structure and through implementing its trademark colours of blue, red and yellow, Walmart produced disruption and fear for the human and non-human residents of Huntsville.

To combat these impacts, the community had looked to create a set of terms that would minimize the interruption of the natural environment by muting the colours of the building’s facades, as the manufactured colours were alarming to wildlife. This understanding of disruptive colour is the point of departure for this video work, Displace and Discount.

Using a synthesis of field recordings and soundbites from Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf the work draws relationships between the video game and Walmart’s incursion into Huntsville, ironically engaging in urban development and the celebration of urban expansion. The project seeks to understand practices that are instilled into a child’s mind through seemingly soft or innocent representations of colonialism.

This two-channel video installation creates a dual screen that brings out the muting and draws contrast between natural colour waves and the manufactured colours brought into the environment. This work looks to interrogate the displacement and discounting of a population for the sake of commerce.

Liam Mullen is an interdisciplinary artist based in Toronto. His background in photography and music anchor his practice of navigating and translating information, both visual and auditory, into affective deconstructions of truths. In drawing seemingly banal connections he builds narratives, subverts pretences, and prompts conversations. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Visual Studies at the University of Toronto's John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.