Wednesday, 18 March 2015

18.3. Situationists and Art - and the assignment for Constructing situations

"There can be no situationist art, only situationist use of art."

"In a classless society there will no longer be "painters", but only situationists who also paint."

"We are only artists to the extent we are not artists anymore. We realize art."

International Situationists is the last historical avant-garde of the 1900ies.
IS is at the outset an artistic movement, but it's fundamental aim is to "overcome art", overcome in the sense of being both a critique and negation and taking it to a higher level, enlarge art.

Constructed situation = A moment of life, concretely and deliberately constructed by the collective organization of unitary environment and free play of events.

A constructed situation cannot be sought privately, it requires total transformation of conditions of existence.
Overcoming art manifests vital energies, inseparable from their immediate consumption; vital energies that cannot be reified, objectified, conserved in commodity form.
Not repeatable or unrepeatable.
Happening at the level of everyday life.

Assignment: construct a situation!

To note when constructing situations:

The work must be changed.
Passions (feelings) have been interpreted, now we must discover new ones.
Aim to enlarge life, not merely explain or express it.
Attack misery on every front.
Find elements for superior construction of environment, and new conditions of behavior - construct new ambiences.
Revolutionize everyday life.

Make practical use of everyday processes and cultural forms that exist, seize culture - to negate/ overcome it.

Note also what Kari reminded: constructed situations should begin from small things, details, which acquire new and disturbing meaning, overcome the establishment.

The constructed situation can be a situation that happened - or a plan or scenario for one.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Text assignment 17.3.

For the task: Choose one or a few paragraphs from "The Society of the Spectacle". Read them. Write a short paragraph in some way based on the text, thinking about your own lived life and experience.

This is not intended to be an academic article, but an experimental text.

We will meet at 14 - 16 in 245 and hear and discuss the texts.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

16.3. The Society of the Spectacle

Karl Marx: The Capital, Chapter 1., Section 1.

"The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as “an immense accumulation of commodities,” its unit being a single commodity. Our investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity."

Guy Debord: The Society of the Spectacle

1. In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.

4. The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.

33. Separated from his product, man himself produces all the details of his world with ever increasing power, and thus finds himself ever more separated from his world. The more his life is now his product, the more he is separated from his life.

34. The spectacle is capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image.

204. Critical theory must be communicated in its own language. It is the language of contradiction, which must be dialectical in form as it is in content. It is critique of the totality and historical critique. It is not “the nadir of writing” but its inversion. It is not a negation of style, but the style of negation.

Friday, 27 February 2015

25.2. Dérive

Theory of the Dérive

Guy Debord

Les Lèvres Nues #9 (November 1956)
reprinted in Internationale Situationniste #2 (December 1958)

ONE OF THE BASIC situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.

In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.

One can dérive alone, but all indications are that the most fruitful numerical arrangement consists of several small groups of two or three people who have reached the same level of awareness, since cross-checking these different groups’ impressions makes it possible to arrive at more objective conclusions. It is preferable for the composition of these groups to change from one dérive to another. …

The average duration of a dérive is one day, considered as the time between two periods of sleep. The starting and ending times have no necessary relation to the solar day, but it should be noted that the last hours of the night are generally unsuitable for dérives. …

The influence of weather on dérives, although real, is a significant factor only in the case of prolonged rains, which make them virtually impossible. But storms or other types of precipitation are rather favorable for dérives.

The spatial field of a dérive may be precisely delimited or vague, depending on whether the goal is to study a terrain or to emotionally disorient oneself. It should not be forgotten that these two aspects of dérives overlap in so many ways that it is impossible to isolate one of them in a pure state. But the use of taxis, for example, can provide a clear enough dividing line: If in the course of a dérive one takes a taxi, either to get to a specific destination or simply to move, say, twenty minutes to the west, one is concerned primarily with a personal trip outside one’s usual surroundings. If, on the other hand, one sticks to the direct exploration of a particular terrain, one is concentrating primarily on research for a psychogeographical urbanism.

In every case the spatial field depends first of all on the point of departure — the residence of the solo dériver or the meeting place selected by a group. The maximum area of this spatial field does not extend beyond the entirety of a large city and its suburbs. At its minimum it can be limited to a small self-contained ambiance: a single neighborhood or even a single block of houses if it’s interesting enough (the extreme case being a static-dérive of an entire day within the Saint-Lazare train station).

The exploration of a fixed spatial field entails establishing bases and calculating directions of penetration. It is here that the study of maps comes in — ordinary ones as well as ecological and psychogeographical ones — along with their correction and improvement. It should go without saying that we are not at all interested in any mere exoticism that may arise from the fact that one is exploring a neighborhood for the first time. Besides its unimportance, this aspect of the problem is completely subjective and soon fades away. ...

The lessons drawn from dérives enable us to draw up the first surveys of the psychogeographical articulations of a modern city. Beyond the discovery of unities of ambiance, of their main components and their spatial localization, one comes to perceive their principal axes of passage, their exits and their defenses. One arrives at the central hypothesis of the existence of psychogeographical pivotal points. One measures the distances that actually separate two regions of a city, distances that may have little relation with the physical distance between them. With the aid of old maps, aerial photographs and experimental dérives, one can draw up hitherto lacking maps of influences, maps whose inevitable imprecision at this early stage is no worse than that of the first navigational charts. The only difference is that it is no longer a matter of precisely delineating stable continents, but of changing architecture and urbanism.

24.2. Who and what were the International Situationists?

Report on the Construction of Situations and on the International Situationist Tendency's Conditions of Organization and Action

Guy Debord

June 1957

Translated by Ken Knabb

Revolution and Counter-revolution in Modern Culture

FIRST OF ALL, we think the world must be changed. We want the most liberating change of the society and life in which we find ourselves confined. We know that such a change is possible through appropriate actions.

Our specific concern is the use of certain means of action and the discovery of new ones, means which are more easily recognizable in the domain of culture and customs, but which must be applied in interrelation with all revolutionary changes.

A society’s “culture” both reflects and prefigures its possible ways of organizing life. Our era is characterized by the lagging of revolutionary political action behind the development of modern possibilities of production which call for a superior organization of the world.


What was the attraction of the situationists in their day?

Luisa Passerini: Critica della vita quotidiana. In I situationisti 1997 Manifestolibri.

1. Stress on everyday life: revolutionize it. Make it a significant part in history and in politics.
2. Foul language: easy to copy. Answered the need to revolt against fathers, especially the symbolical ones.
3. Main attraction: confusion, mixing of art, life and politics, the foundation of everyday revolution. "Almost everybody has been excluded from life (vie), and forced to dedicate all their energy to survival (survie)."

The situationists gave meaning and justification to anxieties of the industrial society.
They gave voice to a profound restlessness ignored by politics and traditions of the left.
Theirs was an ongoing critique of the relations of theory and practice.
They managed to interpret the desire to act, do something, that touched the young generation.
They expressed the need and elements of a radical subjectivity.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Drifting with International Situations

Welcome to the Workshop!

We start on 24.2.  The Workshop will happen in two phases, 24. - 27.2. and then 17. - 20.3.
I have changed our room to the meeting room 245 close to the stairs - it is better equipped for watching moving images, and allows also for lecturing and discussions.

The course has a simple structure and program:
Tue and Thu we will have lectures and discussions;
Wed and Fri we will have workshopping, assignments and then discussions. Approximately assignments 10 - 13/14, and discussions 13/14/15 - 16. To be decided each time according to need.
Assignments are not meant to be finished works of art to last all eternity, but experiments and exercises to give you a concrete hold of your own on situationist issues.

The EDITED program is as follows:
24.2. 12 - 15 Introduction to the SI and Dérive
25.2. 10 - 16 Workshop on Dérive: Meet at 15 Kaupunkiverstas Lasipalatsi!
26.2. 12 - 15 Situationist films. Kari Yli-Annala
10.3. 14 - 16 Workshop on situationist films

16.3. 12 - 15 The Society of the Spectacle
17.3. 10 - 16 Workshop on the society of the spectacle.
18.3. 12 - 15 Situationist Art.
19.3. 10 - 16 Workshop on situationist art.

It is a 3 credit workshop, and all work to pass the course should be doable during the course hours. If you want you can turn this into 5 credits by agreeing on some individual/ team assignment to be agreed on with me.

I have made this blog to share links and sources and other materials.