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shopping malls coming out of the walls

As we walk out among the manure.
Beck Pay No Mind (Snoozer)

When mundane experiences transcend themselves with the magnitude

of their own absurdity, we tend to remember them. One such memory is
of my rst Vancouver Dentist, Dr. Salo*, talking at length to the dental
hygienist about a family visit to the West Edmonton Mall: a behemoth,
multi-purpose shopping and leisure complex also known as WEM. The
superciality of Dr. Salos monologue, combined with its duration,
permanently seeded his tales of mini golf and general amenity-overload
deep into the recesses of my motionless body as I lay bibbed in the
dentists chair.
When I told my grandmother in the UK that I was compiling this book,
she mentioned that she has an 85 year old friend who looks very young
for her age and goes for a jog around WEMs 5,300,000 square feet (104
football elds) almost every day. I wondered if she had somehow learned
the key to longevity while circumnavigating WEMs innards: a hidden
message coded in the architecture by the occult-sounding Triple Five
corporation who built it.
Over time, the memory of Dr. Salos account sustained itself by feeding
o the other mall memories embedded in my brain. The perceived
similarities between these experiences made them much easier to recall.
Neural highways were built that lead to every mall or shopping centre Id
ever visited, each one reminiscent of the next.
This reecting, recursive quality, so important to memory retention, is
highly evident in the repetition of store types, brand names and most
importantly, architectural genericness. It is essential to the malls
conquest of the host dreamers body. Replication of the environment is
not reliant on geographic location, weather conditions or even political
* His name invariably reminds me of the lm Sal, or the 120 Days of Sodom.

climates; rather, the mall assumes a new kind of everywhere location

that is both familiar and alien.
As we dream, our organs and soft tissues seep messages of their own
into the fabric of the dreamscape. The manifestation that we call I is
still there, but it is no longer able to claim the role of sole navigator. The
feet tell of endless hard polished atness, the eyes of clever artice and
expansive atria, while the heart senses cortisol and tells us to be on
guard, despite the lack of any obvious threat. The malls essence nds its
way into our very cells, and as we dream, the vague amalgam of white
walls, giant windows and predictable 90 degree angles becomes the
ideal building material for our dream architecture.
The mall is not alone in possessing these viral, colonial qualities. We see
them in hospitals, airports, schools and museums too. What makes the
mall interesting is that in its most advanced stage, it pretends to oer us
everything. All of our needs are catered to, whether we are talking
groceries, hotels or walk-in clinics. The human host understands what is
being oered, but also perhaps subconsciously what is at stake.
Mitochondria wince as they are forced to use the energy from an MSG-
enhanced food court lunch to power the cells that will carry the body
through a maze of seductive images and articial smells. The world of
our ancestors is replaced by the vision of one new tribe, and as long as
we have money, or the ability evade the attention of security, we are

The thoughts presented in this introduction are completely subjective
and are not intended to impose any kind of interpretation on the dreams
that follow. My hope is that together, these dreams will help illuminate
the mallscape and uncover some of the mysteries of our subconscious
relationship with these ubiquitous commercial complexes.


Dreams are listed in the order they were received

I was waiting in line to either check out or get movie tickets (in a mall
theatre). There were two grey stations with two registers at each in front
of me and I was next.
But then the scene started to shift and the stations started to move and
line up into one long counter, and a crowd of people rushed in around me
and took all the space at the counter and made their transactions while I
stood, kind of baed and not wanting to ght with the crowd. As the
crowd thinned I stepped forward, but someone behind me cut right in
front of me. BUT I WAS HERE, I said.
Ranu Mukherjee

I work in a mall. Every DAY is a dream for me now.


About ve or six years ago I had a lucid dream where I was in a mall with
a really sophisticated automatic rie snipering people. I killed about
twenty people before I woke up I think. I was grieving really intensely at
that time in my life and the dream was really satisfying. The only details I
remember are that I was lying on my stomach on the second oor
shooting people on the rst oor. I felt like I had control over what I was
doing and I knew it was a dream. It was gory. I could see when I shot
people that they were injured, bleeding or dead, and I was alone. I think
it was light outside.
Sarah Hanson

I've regularly had a dream from age 15, for 15 years now, that takes place
in a mall. In the dream, it's an indeterminate time in the future and its
the afternoon. The mall is packed with families, loud with jocular men
narrating of shopping and social happenings on megaphones (I think this
is supposed to be a service position in all popular malls) and completely
criss-crossed with escalators leading through the mall, as well as to the
main municipal aquarium, a ferry terminal, a swank public art gallery, the
subway, etc. Some exits lead to sidewalks, some to water and many to
more escalators, and everything is very glossy white and chrome.
Inevitably, during the dream, a child ops down at the top of an escalator
coming upwards and refuses to walk or stand, each rising step slapping
their feet and jolting their head against the lip of the metal exit plate.
Their mother pulls their hand and implores, looking around, while a

megaphone announcer narrates the scene, and children and moms get
backed up in a long line behind the fallen child. The child is identied as
being a reputable genetic brand by a megaphone, and sometimes lies
listless and stubborn but other times is involved in a very high strung
hysteria, and the understanding is that either way, the kid is frozen in
that place for a long time.
In the best cases, I notice that the genetic brand the child is supposed to
have is the same as a storefront near me, in among a bunch of others like
it. In these dreams, I know that genetic servicing is sort of like mobile
technology servicing now and I can look at each of the stores and
understand what their brand implies.* In the best case, I feel uneasy
about the goings-on and have an inner or external conversation, as the
pile-up increases, that the child has been somehow pithed by genetic
over-targeting. The reasons for this are sometimes elaborated on as
some kind of collision between a genetic domesticity and puberty, and I
understand that many of us in the crowd around the balcony rails have
heard about this phenomenon distantly. In the worst case, I am one of
the shoppers still walking about, with friends or alone, and the plot of my
dream is elsewhere while the child ops peripherally.
I've also had recurring dreams about the ferry, the aquarium, and other
civil services connected to the mall.

* The impression in the dream is that potential parents pick a company, which will guide

the genetic development of their embryo and check into / tune-up / upgrade the child
throughout their prepubescent life. The genetic servicing is casual more casual than a
trip to the dentist, and there are a handful of services throughout the mall. Sadly, from
what I remember, they have unexciting names, like SmartKids. Each brand has a
dierent brand and angle they work at swaying the genetic balance towards playful,
wholesome, active kids, or sophisticated, achievement-oriented intellectual kids, etc.


I dreamt I was in a strip mall, and there was a basket full of old parts from
1920's cars. I was looking at them not sure why. The main image is the
basket of old car parts (not engines but external parts like bumpers,
Joanne McKinnon

V handed me a big machete and wanted me to try and cut her head o. I
just laughed thought she was joking but she wasn't. She was
impatient for me to cut through the skin as deep as I could and all the
way around. I wouldn't do it. She was telling me not to be such a wuss. I
started crying and she held my hand and pushed the knife into her neck.
Hard. Deep. At rst there was a lot of blood and I started screaming and
crying that I could not do it. V really wanted me to get on with it. The
wound quickly turned into a scar kinda like a tattoo. V was saying,
keep going, keep going all the way around! I realized we were in the
middle of a mall and there was a line up behind us. We were at the
counter and the woman was waiting for me to nish and for V to pick her
metal. The woman was prepared to heat it and brand V numerous times
around the scar we were making. V liked the little round medallion but
decided on a huge fancy grate thing. The mall woman could only heat
one corner of it red hot. V still thought it would make an interesting
pattern. The mall woman was getting impatient. I woke up crying and
having to check V's neck.
Cate Fox


I had a bunch of mall dreams last night but I can't remember any more
than that I was in a mall.
Chris Rooney

I have these repeating dreams that happen in an everything institution. It
seems like college, then turns into a hospital that turns into an airport
that turns into a mall that turns into a factory (and on and on). The malls,
oces, schools, hospitals and airports all start looking the same in the
dreams and in reality. They all seem to be from the same architecture
and design catalogue or get remodeled that way. The halls, colours
and furniture all seem the same after awhile.
Funny as soon as I wrote you that I have these dreams, I stopped
having them or remembering them. Mainly it starts o with me visiting
my old college, the Alberta College of Art in Calgary. It's the school, but
not the school. The building is a bit dierent. It seems to have new oors
or places that go on for ever. Especially basement tunnels. I used to work
as a traveling plant care person for hospitals and oces and lobbies with
atriums. I'd have to push my water cart through many a tunnel to cover
my route. There are usually these tunnels linking buildings. In my dreams
the purposes of the institutions just keep changing.
The recent dream I remember is that I was starting at college. Nothing
was going on at the college. I couldn't nd any of my old instructors. No
one seemed to have any particularly inspiring art work out. No one was
in the new huge basement glass studio. So I left and then ended up at an
airport to meet my mother who has been dead for 2 years. There were
other people I knew that were dead there too. Then Mom and I went and
had a great day shopping. The airport turned into a mall, but that's not
hard to imagine. Some airports are really mall-like. Singapore's comes to
mind. I hate shopping, but she loved it and in the dream I liked it too.
Then I had to get her back to the dead people's airport so she wouldn't

miss her ight. The mall just turned back to an airport. We bid our happy
Jane Pawson

A massive city sized school (with characters from my educational career
ages 5 to present), that is also a never ending mall with its own subway,
elevators, condo style housing and sometimes even large parks, that
encircle tiny pockets of untouched single family housing (c. 1900).
Chris Andersen

Dream begins in a mall. I am helping one of my female clients to shop. At
one point she tries on a strap-on dildo harness and then throws it on the
oor. I tell her this is rude. The next part of the dream I recall is walking
with the legally blind gentleman I volunteer with once per month. We are
in the mall heading towards an exit. A doppelganger of this man passes
us on our left (with another volunteer holding his arm for support in the
same way as me). This happens again with yet another paler
doppelganger and volunteer, and possibly again at an even closer
frequency before I get in the car with my original man and drive o. I
was conscious the whole time that the man was protected (hopefully)
from seeing his doppelgangers, but still I tried to shield him and look
away myself.
Upon driving away, which feels like an escape or perhaps it is exactly
upon exiting the mall the original man says, Im multifaceted A, thats
what some people call me. In the car I notice the odometer is putting on
way too many miles like ten thousand every second. I nod o while
driving and simultaneously wake up, feeling like a doppelganger of the

man is next to me in bed. I kick out and kick my waking life partner. I
Spark Pylon

Its the day before X-mas and I forgot to buy presents for my family.
There is nothing good left at the mall. Anxiety. And then I wake up and
its the middle of June. Relief.
Daniel Wickert

Most of the dream is gone now. But I was traveling with two priestesses
who were assisting me. We were going to see Holzkopf (musician), who
lived in a rainbow knee-high sock rack in the Claires in Pacic Centre
Mall in Vancouver. Except Pacic Centre was a dirt mall, like the
Chilliwack mall in the 80s, or that dirt mall in Halifax. Also, it was less a
centre of commerce and more like a wild landscape. But not like, a
natural-wild landscape. Kind of a video game, like its just some
characters nature that theyre shopkeepers or bad guys. Does that even
make any sense? It made sense that Holzkopf lived behind the shaggy
wall of rainbow knee-high socks. He was a Nature Spirit, or Ogrha from
the Dark Crystal. A person who was also a part of the landscape.
Oh ya and the shop girls were like, his guard dogs. They had a very
strange relationship. Like, they assisted him but had no idea who he was
or what they were assisting. They just like, made sure nobody stole from
the store...

Dreaming of mall, likely in Surrey. It's deserted. Cinematically we jump

from view to view. They could be stills as nothing moves but the icker of
neon on glass and polished stone. Blink: corridor, shoe shop, and
luggage, back to school sale? Blink: food court, sushi and pita stop.
Stop! Squeak of sneaker echoes. Spin and glance eeting shadow. Blink:
forward young girl in overalls, standing on food court table. Still, but
slowly rotating forward from the hip. Hands to ground, and kick upside
down arching ever more ip-opping on the the next table, clack. Faster
blurring. Now tumbling down corridors, and clicking, bounce and spin up
wall. Pastel playground parkour. Her body moves up walls and between
pillars. Rolling, tipping dangerously. Where She Now? A little girl gurgles
across the cold stone, fading light.
Brady Ciel Marks

Sept 25th
Looking for a place to go pee. Public washroom in a mall. Scanning. I see
a bathroom in a dentists oce. I head for that. The woman at the desk
stops me and starts signing me up for my appointment. I go along with
it. I am going to have my baby tooth pulled out. A quick surgery. Signing
"Will I have enough time to make it to work at 2:30?
Oh yes, I am reassured. It is only 10:00 now.
Life modelling at Gumboot restaurant. I imagine modelling with a
toothache. The nerve running up through my head. Grown there over


Oct 14th
Eating pizza with a group of people. Claytons mall in Sechelt. Running
into Darren. Says he just graduated from grade seven. I congratulate
him. Encourage him to continue. Directing another guy to the pizza
shop. I check the empty pizza box in my backpack.
Nov 16th
In an art gallery/museum/mall. Many famous works on display. Many
racks of goods for sale as well. Blended. Bright paintings of busts.
Random sculptures. Touring through quickly with Rosy and a couple
friends. A gay man borrows Rosy's glasses to pick up a man. Many
glasses strewn all around the stairs at the entrance. Kat is practicing a
dance with David Yates and Nina on a long carpeted stairway. In an alley
outside Rosy does a sort of dance up ahead. She is interacting with a
snail on the ground. Squatting to greet it and shimmying around. I
imitate her, saying that squatting is a powerful position.
Nov 17th
Walking through upper Gibsons. Through the mall. Grocery store is
evacuated. I am choosing salmon. Sockeye in a plastic bag. Bulk sh
section. Looking for the price. Michael Gabriel is there with a small child.
Rides outside the pirate ship. A dog possessed is being rabid. Barking.
Locked in a case. I leave my bag in the store. Walk around outside. Putrid
smells. I cover my face. Gas smell. Bomb? Tear gas. I walk on the school
eld home. Visiting Tarran and Ezra in a loft. They are drawing lines with
ballpoint pens on their bodies. Using maps of rivers as reference. We are
making art together. Many drawings of creatures. Ezra is a very proper
little man.
Jessica G


My mall dreamscape has always been consistent. Pretty fucking

cheesy... The place is familiar. It's a dry dock. The water is being / is
sucked out. Huge open space. This vacuous whatever, is lled with pop-
up gifty stalls. Dumb ass shit you don't need. All of a sudden, total inux
of water. Float to the surface. Crap!!! Must be a hundred miles deep!!!
Next part is totally triple x...
Fucking ended up at the Diesel store. Looks like I am about $300 short.
Leslie Gardner Sears

I was in a mall: kind of a dark, dingy mall, with a group of people. They
seemed to be sort of acquaintances, though I had no particular desire to
interact with them. We were all wandering around aimlessly looking at
merchandise, mostly randomly placed racks of nondescript clothes. I
remember pretending to be interested in the clothes to avoid talking to
the people and feeling rather bored and frustrated at the situation. It
went on for quite a while.
Eventually we all wandered up to the roof where there were more
randomly placed racks of clothes, the roof looked out over a city. It was a
nice sunny day. We were all milling about when I heard someone shout,
"Duck, a nuclear bomb is going o!"
I crouched down behind an air vent protruding from the roof and closed
my eyes tight.
At this point it's important to interject that I was living at the time in an
old building full of artist studios that had been converted from oces
and that my room was in the middle of the building with no windows
except ones that faced the hallway, which had been painted over white.
Normally the hall lights would provide an ambient glow in the room at all
times, but unbeknownst to me, while I was sleeping, the power had gone

In the dream, crouching down with the knowledge of impending doom, I

thought, "I don't want to die with my eyes closed."
I started to stand up and opened my eyes.
All was blackness. I had been expecting a bright ash, but not a shred of
light met my eyes.
My rst thought was that I was dead. This thought was drawn out for a
long confusing moment.
Then I realized that I seemed to be sitting on something, and in sitting,
seemed to have a body as well. Having rediscovered my arms, I felt
around me and deduced that I was sitting on a bed. I could feel my
boyfriend beside me. Then I realized that in opening my eyes in the
dream, I had opened them in reality and that the room was merely black.
Felix Addison

Malls have been a recurring theme for decades in my very active dream
life. I grew up in suburban Toronto, where malls were (sadly) a social and
cultural hub. As I awakened politically in my 20s, I became disaected by
consumerism and capitalism, so perhaps my mind is sorting this out via
Most often, I nd myself in a mall after-hours. The doors are locked but I
have managed to get inside somehow. It occurs to me that I'm being
tracked by a rotating cast of oppressive police state characters from
security guards to suit-wearing-Matrix-type agents. However, I'm also
graced with superhuman speed and jumping abilities. You know those
gaps in the second oors of malls, where you can look down to the rst
oor? I run and jump down those with ease, rolling out on landing and
popping up into a sprint. I move through various small stores, big chain
stores, secret hallways, and stairwells. I rarely see these agents but can


feel their presence. So there is a tinge of paranoia/anxiety present, but

also a spirit of resistance and liberation. Sometimes I come across locked
doors or other obstacles, but I manage to escape. I can't recall ever being
"caught," although there have been many close calls. On a few occasions,
when almost captured, I have jumped o the top oor down into the
courtyard, knowing that I will awaken before I land. In my waking life, I
cringe a bit when I enter malls, but in my dream life there is a playfulness
to it that I really enjoy.
Brian Williams

I once had a ying dream that took place in a mall. I was doing rolls and
back ips in the air. I'm pretty sure I also purchased a pair of hot pink
heels amidst all of that ipping and swooning. The dream felt like it
lasted only a mere 2 minutes. I've only had 2-3 ying dreams ever in my
life, and each time I woke from a ying dream I was sad it was over.
Arwelen Isla Elvendel

Here's my dream journal for the day: Susan Sarandon is my aunt she
works at the mall. She lets me shoplift fancyheels. I meet the butch of
my dreams working at a book kiosk.
This dream was a premonition. Today Sarah helped me steal fancy
things, then on the same street I met a cutie who worked at a bookstore.


I was standing at the end of a closed-in space, it was the shopping deck
of a cruise ship: a very long, doughnut-shaped mall with an opening
down the centre that gave a view to the deck below only, it was totally
dark down there. The lights of the boutiques were all dimmed, and I
seemed to be alone. I started walking, but I got the sensation that
someone was following me. When I turned around, I didn't see anyone. I
continued to walk and as I did, the feeling intensied. It felt like whoever
it was was gaining on me, but still, when I looked over my shoulder there
was no one there. I saw an alcove, and ducked into it to see if anyone
passed, but once I was hidden, I could hear footsteps getting closer and
closer. Then, suddenly, I heard the awful sounds of a man grunting and
growling, and a woman being brutalized. It sounded like they were only 5
or 10 feet away. I slowly poked my head out from the alcove as the
sounds stopped. Again, I didn't see anything. I crouched down and
scurried o down the corridor again, somehow unseen by this mystery
attacker that sounded so close.
I searched for an escape, pulling and pushing on all the doors, but every
store was closed and locked up tight. Again, I started to sense someone
behind me, started to hear the same heavy footsteps. I hid myself in
another cranny and as I did, I heard another woman being attacked. My
heart was racing. I didn't know what to do, so I ran. I sprinted through the
ship's mall, violently grabbing at door handles as I came to them, but
none would move. I started to feel frantic, not seeing anyone behind me,
but feeling the threatening presence of someone so close, I could almost
feel the heat of his breath. As I came to the bathrooms, I pushed on the
ladies room door and gloriously, it swung open!
I fell into one of the stalls, locked the door, and climbed up onto the seat,
crouching on top of it, as small as I could make myself. I waited there,
shaking, chest heaving, terried that he would nd me. Faintly, I could
hear the footsteps again. As they got louder, I looked around and
realized there were no windows or other doors to escape from. My mind
raced with plans and ideas for how I could possibly defend myself if this
horrible man were to nd me. I had nothing.

The footsteps were getting closer and closer, echoing in the cavernous,
empty space outside the bathroom. Then, they stopped right outside
the door and then there was silence. I waited and waited, not knowing
if he knew where I was not hearing him walk away. If he came in, there
was nowhere I could go. Finally, a peace came over me, as I decided that
while I was there, I might as well use the facilities, so, I started to pee
and as I did, I woke with a jolt! I jumped out of bed and ran to the
bathroom, my heart still racing, my bladder spurring me on. The dream
was over. I felt so relieved. And I only peed my pants a tiny bit.

There's a lookalike competition where owners must look like their
horses. A young blonde girl wins. She puts make-up on the horses mouth
and has a similar facial expression to the horse mouth slightly open,
with wonky teeth showing. The people running the competition then ask
the girl to make the horse do a log roll. The girl starts running and
jumping with one leg out in front. This is the sign for the horse to
perform the trick. The horse doesnt want to do the trick on the hard
oor so instead trots around and eventually escapes by going up an
escalator. I wake up.
Simon Piron

I was in a mall sk8shop with my sister and we were talking to the
salesperson about grip tape. The salesperson spoke with a Texan accent
and was asking me about what it was like to grow up in Merritt. For some
reason I was responding to her in a Texan accent. At some point in our
mundane conversation I realized that I was in a mall dream and needed
to nd you immediately to tell you all about it. Suddenly I was in a cabin

with you, Caton and Liz, and I was telling you about the dream, but I
couldn't remember all the details. You were at the cabin because you
were making a movie about which monsters each Star Trek alien species
is afraid of. I think it was an action ick. I drifted awake as we were
nishing watching your movie.
Carly Diab

To be continued


I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this
book, and to extend the invitation for other readers to share their mall
dreams. Any dream edits by the compiler were / will be grammatical
only. Dreamers may be credited as they see t. The downloadable copies
will be updated whenever a new dream is submitted. Many thanks to
Elizabeth Horner for her patience and help editing and proofreading.
Original mannequin photo on last page by Brady Ciel Marx
Photo manipulation by Spark Pylon
Mall dreams can be e-mailed to:
You can also contact me to mail you a paper copy of the book.
Downloadable pdf for computers and electronic devices:

Downloadable pdf booklet with instructions for printing and binding:

This work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence:
Copyright June 2014, Spark Pylon
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