Remember heading down to the video store to hire your fix of movies? The slow demise of the video store has been happening with the uptake of online streaming services ...who remembers before online streaming took off those kiosks in shopping malls where you would hire a DVD out of a machine?
Growing up going to the video store felt so normal, I didn’t think about it at all, it's what you did to see a movie. My first video store I can remember going to was an independent one on a small strip of shops, that included the local grocer that had the latest video game arcade machines, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I remember fondly. When the shop owners got that game in the ques of us kids was literally out the door! The stip of shops had all the Modernist conveniences including an asian takeaway, fish and chip shop, hairdresser, tattoo shop and of course the video store. I can remember seeing Super Mario Brothers the movie at the cinemas (13 times!!) and it took around 5 months for it to release on video. I can recall they had one for sale on the desk for $50 - that was a fortune for a kid like me at the time. Some things through the passing of time actually do come down in price. Imagine paying $50 for a movie now!...or should I say streaming it...Super Mario Brothers were hot items for me... and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles starring Vanilla Ice!
Fast forward to the 2000s and I can remember video stores in Launceston closing down. There was one large video store in Newstead. There was also a video store in Kings Meadows that I managed to photograph, but all that remained was the outline of where the sign once was on the facade and if you looked through the front door, row after row of empty shelves. The Video City store just out of the CBD closed down this February. Video City once had 29 stores around Tasmania, only two now remain that are located in Hobart.
I don’t reckon anyone would have thought that video stores back in in the 1980s would close down - and yet in such a short period of time something that was so everyday is now but a memory. Like playing computer games, eating takeaway - these spaces were part of my memory - a memory of growing up - the architecture in a sense was there to house these institutions of entertainment and fast food. The everyday moments are all the more special when they disappear forever. Remember the telephone box, the corner store... They are still around, but for how much longer? Again, everyday normal - now not so normal - with us but like some alien life form now.
So with the knowledge that the Video City store was the last in Launceston I wanted to capture some moments. I wanted to use the empty car park and twilight to emphasise the passing of time on what was once an institution, a place where once was full of people and cars eager to get the latest release and pick up a bunch of weekly specials. It’s funny how nostalgia works as I was even smiling about how fines would be issued for late returns!
Whilst the neon sign was no longer illuminated, the billboard facing the street still was. I used the lit up street sign neon that reflected into the now empty shop - a metaphor for a once normal Friday evening outing. As is turned out I was very lucky to be there that evening, because the next afternoon I drove past and both the shop and street signage had been completely removed.