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29 AUGUST 2017

On the Passage of a few People through a Rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International 1956-1972

"The Situationist International (SI) was an international organization of social revolutionaries, the exclusive membership of which was made up of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists, active from its formation in 1957 to its dissolution in 1972.

The intellectual foundations of the Situationist International were derived primarily from anti-authoritarian Marxism and the avant-garde art movements of the early 20th century, particularly Dada and Surrealism. Overall, situationist theory represented an attempt to synthesize this diverse field of theoretical disciplines into a modern and comprehensive critique of mid-20th century advanced capitalism. The situationists recognized that capitalism had changed since Marx's formative writings, but maintained that his analysis of the capitalist mode of production remained fundamentally correct; they rearticulated and expanded upon several classical Marxist concepts, such as his theory of alienation. In their expanded interpretation of Marxist theory, the situationists asserted that the misery of social alienation and commodity fetishism were no longer limited to the fundamental components of capitalist society, but had now in advanced capitalism spread themselves to every aspect of life and culture. They resolutely rejected the idea that advanced capitalism's apparent successes—such as technological advancement, increased income, and increased leisure—could ever outweigh the social dysfunction and degradation of everyday life that it simultaneously inflicted.

Essential to situationist theory was the concept of the spectacle, a unified critique of advanced capitalism of which a primary concern was the progressively increasing tendency towards the expression and mediation of social relations through objects. The situationists believed that the shift from individual expression through directly lived experiences, or the first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires, to individual expression by proxy through the exchange or consumption of commodities, or passive second-hand alienation, inflicted significant and far-reaching damage to the quality of human life for both individuals and society. Another important concept of situationist theory was the primary means of counteracting the spectacle; the construction of situations, moments of life deliberately constructed for the purpose of reawakening and pursuing authentic desires, experiencing the feeling of life and adventure, and the liberation of everyday life.

When the Situationist International was first formed, it had a predominantly artistic focus; emphasis was placed on concepts like unitary urbanism and psychogeography. Gradually, however, that focus shifted more towards revolutionary and political theory. The Situationist International reached the apex of its creative output and influence in 1967 and 1968, with the former marking the publication of the two most significant texts of the situationist movement, The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord and The Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem. The expressed writing and political theory of the two aforementioned texts, along with other situationist publications, proved greatly influential in shaping the ideas behind the May 1968 insurrections in France; quotes, phrases, and slogans from situationist texts and publications were ubiquitous on posters and graffiti throughout France during the uprisings."

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TAGS

195719721989 • advanced capitalism • anti-authoritarianart movement • authentic desires • avant-garde art • Branka Bogdanov • capitalist societycommodity fetishism • commodity spectacle • consumer societyconsumerism • consumption of commodities • Dadadegradationdetournement • directly lived experiences • documentary filmearly 20th centuryeveryday life • exchange of commodities • expression and mediation of social relations through objects • feeling of adventure • feeling of life • first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires • graffiti • Greil Marcus • Guy Debord • individual expression by proxy • Jamie Reid • liberation of everyday life • Malcolm Mac Laren • Marxism • Marxist concepts • Marxist theory • May 1968 • means of production • mid-20th century advanced capitalism • mode of production • moments of life • political theorists • political theorypsychogeography • Raoul Vaneigem • reawakening • revolutionary theory • second-hand alienation • Situationist International • situationist movement • situationist theory • situations • slogan • social alienation • social dysfunction • social relations • social revolutionaries • Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord)spectaclesurrealism • The Revolution of Everyday Life (1967) • theory of alienation • Thomas Levine • UbuWeb • unified critique • unitary urbanism • video documentary

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
24 JANUARY 2013

Anemic Cinema (1926) by Marcel Duchamp

"This characteristically dada film by Marcel Duchamp consists of a series of visual and verbal puns with nonsense phrases inscribed around rotating spiral patterns, creating an almost hypnotic effect. Silent.

Anemic Cinema (various versions were made in 1920, 1923 and, finally, in 1926). Essentially a film by Duchamp with help from Man Ray. Calvin Tomkins: 'Duchamp used the initial payment on his inheritance to make a film and to go into the art business. The film, shot in Man Ray's studio with the help of cinematographer Marc Allégret, was a seven–minute animation of nine punning phrases by Rrose Sélavy. These had been pasted, letter by letter, in a spiral pattern on round black discs that were then glued to phonograph records; the slowly revolving texts alternate with shots of Duchamp's Discs Bearing Spirals, ten abstract designs whose turning makes them appear to move backward and forward in an erotic rhythm. The little film, which Duchamp called Anemic Cinema, had its premiere that August at a private screening room in Paris.'"

(UbuWeb)

Marcel Duchamp (1926). "Anémic Cinéma", 7 minutes, B&W.

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TAGS

1926 • Anemic Cinema • art historyavant-garde cinema • Calvin Tomkins • circle • concentric cirles • Dadadada filmdiscs • disk • erotic rhythm • gyrating • hypnotic effectMan Ray • Marc Allegret • Marcel Duchampmovement • nonsense phrase • op artoptical artoptical effectoptical illusionpatternperceptual phenomenonphonograph • phonograph turntable • pulsating alternation • revolving • rhythm • rotary demisphere • rotating spiral patterns • rotation • Rotoreliefs • Rrose Selavy • spinning • spiral • spiral pattern • spiraling • stereo-kinetic effect • surrealist cinematurntableUbuWebvelvet • verbal pun • visual experience

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 NOVEMBER 2007

A list of online scrapbooks of contemporary and digital culture

Media Art Net
Networked Performance
Database of Virtual Art
We Make Money Not Art
Fourwalling
UbuWeb
iGargoyle
Mashable
Geekitude
Carnet de Notes
Things Magazine
PLX.box

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TAGS

blog • cyberactivism • cyberartscybercitycybercultureDatabase of Virtual Artdesign blogdigital culturedigital scrapbook • Fourwalling • iGargoyle • Lemos • Mashable • Media Art Net • Networked Performance • Oliver Grau • PLX.box • Things MagazineUbuWebWe Make Money Not Art
11 JULY 2006

UbuWeb: Online Repository of Concrete Poetry

"UbuWeb is a completely independent resource dedicated to all strains of the avant–garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts. All materials on UbuWeb are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only. All rights belong to the author(s). UbuWeb is completely free."

(The UbuWeb Editors)

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