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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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195719721989 • advanced capitalism • anti-authoritarianart movement • authentic desires • avant-garde art • Branka Bogdanov • capitalist society • commodity 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
21 MARCH 2014

Haul girls: identity performance through brand consumption and endorsement

"Helina is explaining what a haul girl is to me. 'Basically, you go out shopping for clothes or beauty products,' she says, 'then you make a haul video and show viewers on YouTube what you got. You go through the items of clothing one by one. I guess what people get out of them is not showing off, like, how much money you've got or anything, but lifestyle: you get to see how one person lives, what their taste is.'

If you're minded to sneer at a youth cult that involves making videos about your shopping, then Helina has a pretty intriguing counter–argument. 'It's not just about showing what you've got,' she says. 'It's a whole creative process behind the videos as well, which is what I enjoy about it. Choosing the right music, going from the filming to the editing. Sometimes I even storyboard things, because I want certain shots, how I can present different items and things like that.' Besides, she says, it's a genuine community. She thinks a lot of haul girls 'turn the camera on because it's a way to talk to people without having to go outside and face their fears. I know that was the case with me: I turned on my camera because I was at home, signed off work, sick, and really bored. And it helped with my confidence in a way. There's this community where you can talk to like–minded people.'"

(Alexis Petridis, 20 March 2014, The Guardian)

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2014affective consumptionaffective goal achievementamateur cultural productionASOSbeauty products • Boohoo • Boots (shop) • brand awareness • clothes shopping • commodificationcommodity fetishismconstructed identitiesconsumer aestheticsconsumer brandsconsumer cultureconsumer endorsementconsumption spectaclecultural materialismcultural monoculturedigital narcissism • haul girl • haul video • I shop therefore I amidentity performancelifestyle • Missguided (shop) • new media content productiononline communityonline followersperformativitypersonal tastepost-feminist agenda • Primark • product endorsementrecommender culture • retail therapy • shopping for clothes • show and tellspectacular societysubculturetaste formationsThe Guardianunboxingvideo blogger • whats in my bag (video) • whats in my purse (video) • YouTube • Zara (shop)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
28 FEBRUARY 2014

Identity performance: YouTubers, real-life dolls and cosplayers

Fig.1 "My Strange Addiction: I'm a Living Doll", TLC, Season 5 (2014), original air date 1 January 2014.

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2014Barbie dollbelongingbody modificationcelebrity • china doll • china figurine • commodity fetishismcompulsive behaviourconstructed identitiesconsumer aestheticscosplay • cosplayer • digital narcissismdolldoll fetishism • doll-like features • dollificationdress-up • Emily Smith • escapismexhibitionismfadfamefantasy characterfashionable fadfetishismidentity performanceimpression management • Justin Jedlica • living dolllolitamediated representationmimicry • My Strange Addiction (TV Series) • online behaviouronline followersperformativitypersonapersonal identityplastic surgeryreal-life dollrole playingsensationalismspectacular societysuperficial appearance • TLC (TV network) • Venus Isabelle Palermo • Victoriana • video bloggervisual depictionYouTubers

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 AUGUST 2013

Scary Gorgeous by the dance company RashDash

"Scary Gorgeous and it's about the pressure on young women to appear sexually available and post provocative pictures of themselves on the web, and also about how sexual relationships are damaged when our imaginations become colonised by pornographic images."

(Lyn Gardner, 15 August 2011)

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2011 • Abbi Greenland • commodifying myselfcommodity fetishismdance theatregender performance culture • Helen Goalen • me in pictures • mediated by images • mediated representationnormalising over-sharingon the webperformativitypornographic imagesposting onlineprovocative pictures • RashDash (dance company) • relations between people • Scary Gorgeous (dance) • self-shotsselfiesexual depictionssexualised depictionssocial life • social pressure • spectacular societyteenvoyeurismyoung peopleyoung women

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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