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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 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
22 AUGUST 2017

ReorderTV: a mixtape of playful, critical and absurd video cut-ups

ReorderTV is an online platform created by Simon Perkins designed as a curated collection of video cut-ups, which challenge, engage and entertain. The collection showcases a variety of clips: some distinctly playful, others critical and some simply absurd.

The site doesn't have traditional menu to make user-selections, instead clips simply begin playing full-screen in reverse-chronological order, from the most recent to the much older. While each clip has an associated permalink for sharing, play-progress is maintained to enable users to restart watching where they left off.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 APRIL 2017

This Unruly: a repository of video cut-ups (clips and literature reviews)

This Unruly is an evolving web repository of theory and practice related to recombinatory video appropriation practices involving video re-purposing, re-mixing, collage and cut-up techniques. The site includes examples of YouTube clips as well as a literature review of articles and academic papers, which relate to the subject. Content within the site has been organised using a provisional taxonomy that centres on formal aesthetic, creative and experimental features. In doing so this marks a departure from more conventional approaches, which generally seek to locate works according to established art historical developments and stylistic conventions. The site, which was created by Simon Perkins is an extension to posts about the practice of video cut-ups that were initially made to the Folksonomy.co in 2016.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
04 NOVEMBER 2012

CollageMachine: An Interactive Agent of Web Recombination

"CollageMachine builds interactive collages from the Web. First you choose a direction. Then CollageMachine will take you surfing out across the Internet as far as it can reach. It builds a collage from the most interesting media it can find for you. You don't have to click through links. You rearrange the collage to refine your exploration.

CollageMachine is an agent of recombination. Aesthetics of musical composition and conceptual detournement underlie its development. The composer John Cage and Dada artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst used structured chance procedures to create aesthetic assemblages. These works create new meaning by recontextualizing found objects. Instead of functioning as a single visual work, CollageMachine embodies the process of collage making.

CollageMachine [1] deconstructs Web sites and re-presents them in collage form. The program crawls the Web, downloading sites. It breaks each page down into media elements—images and texts. Over time, these elements stream into a collage. Point, click, drag, and drop to rearrange the media. How you organize the

elements shows CollageMachine what you're interested in. You can teach it to bring media of interest to you. On the basis of your interactions, CollageMachine reasons about your interests; the evolving model informs ongoing choices of selection and placement. CollageMachine has been developed through a process of freely combining disciplines according to the principles of 'interface ecology.'"

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TAGS

1996 • aesthetic assemblages • agent of recombination • Andruid Kerne • collagecollage art • collage form • collage making • CollageMachine (1996) • conceptual collage • conceptual detournement • create new meaning • detournement • digital collage • evolving model • foundfound object • freely combining • influential works • interactive collage • interface ecology • Internet artInternet artworkJohn CageMarcel DuchampMax Ernst • musical composition • net artnew media • New York Digital Salon • objet trouverecombinationrecombinatory practicerecontextualisationrecontextualising found objects • selection and placement • structured chance procedures • web

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 OCTOBER 2008

Situationist cinema attempt to critique capitalist consumption practices

"Debord's mode of cinematic situation construction owes much to Marx's understanding of the relationship between production and alienation, especially as articulated in the Economico-Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. For Marx, the commodification of labour in a capitalist society means the loss of reality for the worker; in turn, the subsequently produced commodity ensures her simultaneous loss of and bondage to the object produced. Situationist cinema reverses this trend by refusing to produce any new filmic 'work', any reified artifact for consumption whose potential exchange value might negate the use-value acquired in its spatio-temporal projection and the subsequent construction of an indeterminately meaningful event.

Debord picks up Marxian concepts that the Marxist tradition hitherto had all but ignored, frequently echoing Marx's conclusion that alienation appears as the true induction into civil life, and, even more significantly, his observation and critique of 'commodity fetishism' in capitalist society. (3) The spectacle, Debord argues, thrives on the repetition of commodity form, reinvesting the structure with seemingly new products and images. By compiling image after image of the commodification of life by consumer capitalism (female bodies, political figures, product advertisements, popular films, and so on), his films expose this oppressive repetition and artificial sense of the new, and, as if to help along one of the most problematic concepts in Marx's work, Society of the Spectacle (1973) ponders the commodity's 'metaphysical subtleties' while sequentially imaging automobile showrooms and naked cover girls."

(Ricky Crano, 2007)

Crano, R. (2007). "Guy Debord and the Aesthetics of Cine-Sabotage." Senses of Cinema.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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