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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 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
23 MARCH 2017

Ten years of smartphones (and visions of a circular economy)

"Smartphones sind schlecht zu reparieren, schlecht aufzurüsten, schlecht zu recyceln. Für die Konsumentinnen ist das ärgerlich – und kann für die Hersteller richtig teuer werden. ...

Dass Mobiltelefone eine längere Lebensdauer haben, ist aber ein wichtiger Beitrag zum Umweltschutz: Für ihre Herstellung werden Edelmetalle und so genannte Seltene Erden gebraucht, die unter grossem Energieaufwand und mittels gesundheitsschädigender Chemikalien gefördert werden. Jedes reparierte Telefon schont Ressourcen. Im Auftrag von Greenpeace berechnete das deutsche Oeko-Institut, dass sich die Smartphone-Lebensdauer im Schnitt um 1,5 Jahre verlängern liesse. Nimmt man all das zusammen – Energieaufwand, kurze Lebensspanne und geringe Recyclingquote – wird klar, dass es so nicht endlos weitergehen kann."

(Greenpeace Schweiz, 1 March 2017)

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20072017animated explainer videocell phone • circular economy • consumer electronicsconsumerismconsumptiondesign intelligencedesign responsibilitydisposable consumptione-waste • energy expenditure • environmental damage • environmental protection • environmentalismgood designgreen designGreenpeace • Greenpeace Schweiz • harmful chemicalsinternational environmental health and sustainability issues • life span • long-lasting productslonger-lasting productsobsolescence • Oeko-Institut • Oko-Institut • patterns of consumptionplanned obsolescenceprecious metals • product cycles cause • rare earths • recycle and repair • recycling rate • renewable resources • service life • short-lived devices • smartphone • smartphone lifetime • smartphone production • sustainabilitysustainable design principles • technical habits • technology sector

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 NOVEMBER 2016

Wander through a Garden of Earthly Delights on loop

'Paradise' was commissioned by the MOTI Museum in The Netherlands for the exhibition New Delights, which is part of the Hieronymus Bosch 500-year anniversary. A gigantic video installation of this work is exhibited in the Museum until the 31st of December 2016.

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1490 • 20163D animation4K • 500 year anniversary • animated experience • animated interpretation • animated paintinganniversarycarnivalesquechickencoming to lifeconsumerismcontemporary interpretationcontinuous scenecreaturesdecadence • digitally recreated • Dutch animation • Dutch art • Dutch master • eroticismescapism • famous painting • hallucinatoryHello KittyHieronymus Boschlandscapelarge scale installationliving paintingliving picturesmedieval art • medieval painting • metaphors for our society • MOTI Museum • Netherlandspaintingpanoramic portrayalpenisselfishness • spybot • Studio Smack • synthetic fresco • The Garden of Earthly Delights • triptychvanityvideo installationvideo mural

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 JANUARY 2015

Emile Durkheim: social explanations

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Barclay Johnson • collective consciousnessconsumerismdivision of labourEmile DurkheimFrederick Engelsglobalisation • Hans-Peter Muller • Imre Szeman • individualisminterdependence • Isabel Ortiz • James Henry • Karl Marxmacrosociology • Matthew Cummins • mechanical solidarity • modern organic solidarity • organic solidarity • Paul James • pre-modern mechanical solidarity • premodern • social explanations • social factssocial theoristsocial theorysociologist • solidarity • Tom Bottomore • Whitney Pope

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 NOVEMBER 2014

They Live: sunglasses reveal subliminal capitalist messages

"John Carpenter's They Live (1988), one of the neglected masterpieces of the Hollywood Left, is a true lesson in critique of ideology. It is the story of John Nada–Spanish for 'nothing'! –, a homeless laborer who finds work on a Los Angeles construction site, but has no place to stay. One of the workers, Frank Armitage, takes him to spend the night at a local shantytown. While being shown around that night, he notices some odd behavior at a small church across the street. Investigating it the next day, he accidentally stumbles on several more boxes hidden in a secret compartment in a wall, full of sunglasses. When he later puts on a pair of the glasses for the first time, he notices that a publicity billboard now simply displays the word 'OBEY,' while another billboard urges the viewer to 'MARRY AND REPRODUCE.' He also sees that paper money bears the words 'THIS IS YOUR GOD.' Additionally he soon discovers that many people are actually aliens who, when they realize he can see them for what they are, the police suddenly arrive. Nada escapes and returns to the construction site to talk over what he has discovered with Armitage, who is initially uninterested in his story. The two fight as Nada attempts to convince and then force him to put on the sunglasses. When he does, Armitage joins Nada and they get in contact with the group from the church, organizing resistance. At the group's meeting they learn that the alien's primary method of control is a signal being sent out on television, which is why the general public cannot see the aliens for what they are. In the final battle, after destroying the broadcasting antenna, Nada is mortally wounded; as his last dying act, he gives the aliens the finger. With the signal now missing, people are startled to find the aliens in their midst."

(Slavoj Zizek)

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1988advertising billboardsalien invasion • alien occupation • broadcasting antenna • buy and obey • Cable 54 • capitalist ideologychurchconsumerism • contact lenses • control • critique of capitalism • critique of ideologycult filmcultural critique • drifter • dystopia • homeless labourer • Hooverville • ideology • John Carpenter • Keith David • kick ass and chew bubble gumLos Angelesmass mediamedia consumermedia consumption • Meg Foster • nameless drifter • passive consumptionpervasive advertisingpost-ideological society • prophetic • Roddy Piper • ruling class • satirical film • science fiction • shantytown • Slavoj Zizek • subliminal advertising • subliminal messages • sunglassesThe Perverts Guide to Ideology (2012)They Live (1988)threat • underground organisation • unmasked • watch television

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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