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Art & design in context  The situationist international Art & design in context The situationist international Presentation Transcript

  • The Situationist International
    Art & Design in Context
    Sara Andersdotter
  • Today’s session
    - A look at The Situationist International and related concepts (in relation to last week’s session on the flâneur)
    - Review of mapping ideas and relations to your graphic design practice (materials brought in + the mapping task set last week)
  • The Situationist International
    The Situationist International was an organisation formed in the post-WWII era (emerging out of other groups – Cobra and the Lettrist International – with the leading members Guy Debord, Michèle Bernstein and AsgerJorn); officially founded in 1957, peaking in the events of 1968 and disbanding in 1972. It is via the group’s core concepts that we can discern developments from other areas – such as the flâneur...
    Three founding members of the Situationist International: (from left) Guy Debord, Michèle Bernstein and AsgerJorn
  • The Situationist International
    The Situationist International with its key figure Guy Debord focussed on a critique of their contemporary society. Though some were artists and many were engaged in some artistic endeavours, it was not primarily an art movement – their focus was on social, cultural and political issues.
    The group’s critique is in essence a Marxist one; Debord’s influential 1967 work Society of the Spectacle describes society as one of representation and ‘fake reality’ where media and advertising mask the reality of capitalism’s true impact on our lives. In order to escape this passive society of the spectacle and gain ‘real individual fulfilment’, Debord claims, we must construct ‘situations’ – that is, moments of life, or environments in which we take active part, where spectatorship is not an option.
    Debord’s film based on Society of the Spectacle
    (with the same title):
    http://www.ubu.com/film/debord_spectacle.html
    “All that was once directly lived has become mere representation” (1967)
  • The Situationist International
    “What would be the principle characteristics of the new culture and how would it compare with ancient art?
    • Against the spectacle, the realized situationist culture introduces total participation.
    • Against preserved art, it is the organization of the directly lived moment.
    • Against particularized art, it will be a global practice with a bearing, each moment, on all the usable elements. Naturally this would tend to collective production which would be without doubt anonymous (at least to the extent where the works are no longer stocked as commodities, this culture will not be dominated by the need to leave traces.)...
    • Against unilateral art, situationist culture will be an art of dialogue, an art of interaction. Today artists — with all culture visible — have been completely separated from society, just as they are separated from each other by competition. But faced with this impasse of capitalism, art has remained essentially unilateral in response. This enclosed era of primitivism must be superseded by complete communication.
    At a higher stage, everyone will become an artist, i.e., inseparably a producer-consumer of total culture creation, which will help the rapid dissolution of the linear criteria of novelty. Everyone will be a situationist so to speak, with a multidimensional inflation of tendencies, experiences, or radically different "schools" — not successively, but simultaneously.”
    (Guy Debord, Internationale Situationniste #4, June 1960)
  • Situationist International terminology
    Though a Situationist key word could be subversion – aiming to subvert contemporary culture, social behaviour, societal norms and conventions, there are a number of other important key terms:
    • Détournement
    deflection, diversion, rerouting, distortion, misuse, misappropriation, hijacking, or in other ways turning something aside from its normal course / purpose.
    An artist reuses elements of well-known media (ads, comic book strips, magazines, newspapers, etc) to create a new artwork with a different message, often one that stands in opposition to the original.
  • Détournement
    This idea of what could also be seen as appropriation, ‘borrowing’, stealing, plagiarising, and more contemporarily, as ‘culture jamming’ and ‘subvertising’, was not necessarily a wholly new idea; elements of such notions could be found in Dadaist work (montage; the Readymade) – however, the idea that Détournement derived from ‘elsewhere’ would probably not have bothered the SI as the notion by default is about borrowing...
    A contemporary example of détournement can be found on: mydavidcameron.com
    As a development (parallel or not), the conceptual art (not affiliated with SI) that emerged in the 1960s and came to influence the next few decades was heavily influenced by the idea of appropriation – furthermore, the notion of deliberately referencing or appropriating other works can be seen as a characteristic of Postmodernism, which came to break with Modernism in the mid-late 1960s.
    Roy Lichtenstein, M-maybe, 1965
  • Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Can, 1964 
    Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #14, 1978
    Sherrie Levine, Untitled (After Walker Evans),  1981
  • Barbara Kruger, Your Body is a Battleground, 1989; Money Can Buy You Love, 1985; I Shop, Therefore I am, 1987
  • Yasumasa Morimura, Frida Kahlo, 2008
    Yasumasa Morimura, Daughter of Art History, 1998
  • Situationist International terminology
    Recuperation
    When ‘the spectacle’ commodofies a revolutionary or radical idea; that is, repackaging such a concept and using/selling it for financial gain. Therefore, any or most radical ideas will eventually be assimilated and commodofied, which will ultimately mean they are no longer radical but part of the status quo.
    Dérive [drift]
    A particular, significant journey through the urban landscape, taking in its various ambiences and properties. The dérive is an unplanned journey, drifting through parts of a city, deliberately ignoring prescribed paths, signs or ‘functional flows’. That is, a subversion of given directions, maps, signage etc in favour of letting the atmospheres of the city lead the participant/s.
    Psychogeography
    "The study of specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals“ (Debord 1957). The concept of psychogeography has also resulted in a remapping and re- experiencing of the city; alternative maps created through a dérive in the subversion of existing notions of navigation of the urban environment – creative maps replacing those of function and commerce.
    How do these last two concepts relate to the flâneur? And how can they be used in art and design?
  • There are no set rules for a dérive or exact methodology in contemporary psychogeography. There is a vast philosophical, literary and political tradition of psychogeography, in which various art and design practitioners have documented their psychogeographic work in various ways – including hand-drawn / computer generated maps, collages, photographs, films, writing (poetry, essays, books), photo-essays, etc. However, these ‘maps’ may seem non-representational or even nonsensical in terms of traditional geographical representations!
  • Some useful psychogeography links
    Debating Center TUMULT: State of affairs in our "society of the spectacle" http://imaginarymuseum-archive.org/ISU/
    Smell & Smellscapes: http://mappingweirdstuff.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/mapping-smell-smellscapes
    Touch & Touchscapes:
    http://mappingweirdstuff.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/mapping-touch-touchscapes
    Taste & Tastescapes:
    http://mappingweirdstuff.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/mapping-taste-tastescapes
    Making Maps: DIY Cartography:
    http://makingmaps.net/2009/06/22/making-psychogeography-maps
    Urban Squares Psychogeography project:
    http://www.urbansquares.com/12psychomaps.html
  • Group discussion
    Form groups of 4. Discuss the mapping exercise set last week and show each other the brought in examples of graphic design work you are currently working on / recent work
    What links can be made?
    What similarities / differences can you discern (in your group)?
    What elements may form important parts of your map/s that you will produce for the ‘The Map and the Territory’ assignment?
    Elements from the task set last week:
    - 5 artists/designers who have inspired you
    - Elements of recently visited art / design exhibitions that have influenced your thinking
    - 3 books that have had an affect on you / your thinking / your practice
    - 3 places/spaces that have had an impact on you
    - 5 musicians/bands who have influenced you
    - 5 key words that would describe your design practice
  • Dérive and psychogeography task
    Imagine your neighbourhood (or any other chosen urban area) within the natural landscape. What is it like without the elements created by humans?
    Consider:
    Ordered space
    - How is the area you are looking at design to function?
    - How does the arrangement of space and architecture function?
    - Can you notice any particular enforcements of relationships between genders / age groups / social groups?
    - Can you tell who owns / does not own elements of the area?
    Lived space
    - What do people actually do in the area?
    - Is the area used differently by different genders / age groups / social groups? If so, how?
    - Is the area used in different ways during the day? In what ways?
    Perceived space
    - What does the area feel like to you?
    - What does it mean?
    - What elements can you subvert in order to create an alternative route?
  • For next week:
    - Review the brief (‘The Map and the Territory’) on the blog / Moodle and make notes of what you need to do in order to complete the assignment
    - Using your Graphic Design skills, and notions of the dérive and psychogeography, create a Situationist style map that subverts existing forms of navigation (and replaces those of function and commerce) in your neighbourhood (see previous slide and slides on the Situationist International)
    - Upload research (images, videos, texts, etc), analysis & evaluation of the works of others, notes (group work, individual work, from lectures, etc), evidence of idea development, work in progress, created maps and other materials related to your assignment to your blogs
    Note: we will review your blogs, ideas and work in progress next week, in preparation for your presentation & assignment deadline!