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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
22 NOVEMBER 2015

Questioning how we relate to the world in functional ways

"JODI's disruption of mapping and video games reminded me of Situationist artist Guy Debord's calls for a 'renovated cartography.' For Debord, when we blindly follow the same directions over and over, using the easiest paths, we get stuck relating to the world in 'functional' ways and imagination withers. Debord wanted people to use the wrong map in the wrong place — to get lost in order that we might see our surroundings anew. Similarly, JODI strips away the usual instrumental goals of our engagements with digital media — to win a game, to communicate information, to navigate quickly. What we are left with is a bare awareness of the random components of our digital lives and a glimpse at the other possibilities for technology."

(Leila Nadir, 30 April 2012, Museum of the Moving Image)

TAGS

2012agency of access and engagementcartographycontrolled environments • designing for playful engagement • Dirk Paesmansdisruptive interrogation • diversity of engagement • exploratory experimentation • exploring other possibilities for technology • functional purpose • getting lost • Guy Debordinstructions for useinstrumental conception of technologyInternet artJoan HeemskerkJODI (art collective)Museum of the Moving Imageour digital livesperformativity • questioning our uses of technology • relating to the world in functional ways • renovated cartography • rethinking boundaries • scriptible spaces • seeing our surroundings anew • Situationist Internationalsymbolic controlunfolding possibilitiesvideo games

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
30 JANUARY 2014

100+ Years of Design Manifestos

"Since the days of radical printer–pamphleteers, design and designers have a long history of fighting for what's right and working to transform society. The rise of the literary form of the manifesto also parallels the rise of modernity and the spread of letterpress printing. ...

The original list was largely drawn from Mario Piazza's presentation at the Più Design Può conference in Florence, though I've edited and added to it. I've also incorporated links where I was able to find them."

(John Emerson, 22 July 2009, Social Design Notes)

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Albe Steiner • Alberto Marangoni • Allan Chochinov • anti-manifesto • Antonio Sant Elia • architectureArts and Crafts MovementBauhaus School • Blair Enns • Bruce MauBruce SterlingBruno TautDanish designDe Stijl • Dean Allen • design manifesto • Dieter RamsDogme 95El Lissitzky • Ellen Lupton • Filippo Tommaso MarinettiFuturism • Gelsomino DAmbrosio • Giancarlo Iliprandi • Gianfranco Torri • Giovanni Anceschi • Giovanni Baule • Giovanni Lussu • GNUgood designgraphic designGuy DebordIcogradainfographicsJeffrey Zeldman • Karim Rashid • Kathleen Hanna • Ken Garland • Laszlo Moholy-Nagyletterpress printing • literary form • manifestoManuel Lima • Mario Piazza • Mark Goldman • Marke Hamburg • Michael Erard • Mitch Goldstein • Noah Scalin • pamphleteer • Patrik Schumacher • Pierre Bernard • Pino Grimaldi • publishing • radical rethinking • Scandinavian Design Council • Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord)typography • Umair Haque • un-manifesto • Walter Gropius • Warren Berger • William McDonough • William Morris

CONTRIBUTOR

Liam Birtles
11 JULY 2013

Isidore Isou's influential Venom and Eternity

"This experimental film ('Venom and Eternity') by Isidore Isou constitutes the Letterist manifesto of film. Rejecting film conventions by 'chiseling' away at them, Isou introduced several new concepts, including discrepancy cinema where the sound track has nothing to do with the visual track. In addition, the celluloid itself was attacked with destructive techniques such as scratches and washing it in bleach. Causing a scandal at the 1951 Cannes Film Festival, this film was later introduced in the United States where it influenced avant–garde film makers such as Stan Brakhage."

(Internet Archive)

Fig.1 Isidore Isou (1951). Traité de bave et d'éternité. Venom And Eternity.

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1951 • anarchism • artistic expressionavant-garde cinemaavant-garde film maker • bleach • celluloidcinema • cinema is dead • cinematic conventionsconventionsdeath of cinemadeath of the authordeface • destructive techniques • discrepancy cinema • Eric Rohmer • experimental filmformal workformalismGuy Debord • influential practitioners • influential worksInternet Archive • Isidore Isou • Jean Cocteau • letterist manifesto • lettrism • lettrist movement • Maurice Scherer • rejectionRomanian • Romanian filmmaker • scratches • situationism • situationistStan Brakhagestock footagesync sound • Venom and Eternity (1951)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 JANUARY 2012

The Revival of Psychogeography

"Psychogeography is hot. Guy Debord, founding member of Situationist International and the man who coined the term in 1955, defined the phenomenon as 'the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals'. In fact, psychogeography is the art of strolling, or just about anything that gets pedestrians off their predictable paths and leads them to a new awareness of the urban landscape. Recently we've seen a remarkable psychogeographic revival driven by several artistic urban projects and smartphone applications."

(Jeroen Beekmans, 4 January 2012, The Pop–Up City)

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1955 • Adam Greenfield • Android appsappsart • art of strolling • artistic urban project • augmented reality • augmented sound • awarenesscitydaily routinederivedrift • Emilie Giles • encountersenvironmentescapeexploration • exploring the city • flaneur • forgotten places • geographical environment • Guy Debord • Inception app • Ingrid Burrington • interactive encounters • iPhoneiPhone app • iPhone apps • iPod Touch • Loneliness Map • lonely individuals • Lost London • mapmapping • missed connections • new technologiesperception of realityperformativityphenomena • Pratt Manhattan Gallery • predictable cities • psychogeographic experiences • psychogeographic explorations • psychogeographypublic spacerealityroute • Serendipitor • serendipitySituationist International • smartphone applications • smartphone apps • strollersurprisetechnology • unpredictable paths • urban landscapeurban mappingurban planningyou are here

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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