Critique of Pure Image – Between Fake and Quotation
A project of the Art Today Association
in collaboration with Code Flow
written and curated by Dimitrina Sevova
Guy-Ernest Debord and his fans
The Society of the Spectacle
Feature film, 87 min., 1973. Downloaded and reassembled in small bits coming from the computers of his wired fans across the world via the shared peer-to-peer networks.
“Guy DEBORD. Calls himself a filmmaker. Member of the Situationist International, of which he was one of the founders in 1957. For a long time, the responsible party for the publications of the SI in France. Also now and then involved in the different activities of this organization in several countries where situationist agitation was propagated, notably in Germany, England and Italy (sometimes calling himself Gondi or Decayeux). In 1967 published The Society of the Spectacle. The following year, a figure among the leaders of the most extreme current at the time of the troubles of May 1968. Following these events, his theses acquired a great influence in European and American ultra-Leftism. French. Born in 1931, in Paris.” – Autobiographical note in detourned style for the Champ Libre edition of The Society of the Spectacle.
“In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation. The images detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream in which the unity of that life can no longer be recovered. Fragmented views of reality regroup themselves into a new unity as a separate pseudoworld that can only be looked at. The specialization of images of the world evolves into a world of autonomized images where even the deceivers are deceived.
The spectacle is a concrete inversion of life, an autonomous movement of the nonliving. The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as society itself, as a part of society, and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is the focal point of all vision and all consciousness. But due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is in reality the domain of delusion and false consciousness: the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of universal separation.
The spectacle is not a collection of images; it is a social relation between people that is mediated by images. Understood in its totality, the spectacle is both the result and the goal of the dominant mode of production. It is not a mere decoration added to the real world. It is the very heart of this real society’s unreality. In all of its particular manifestations — news, propaganda, advertising, entertainment — the spectacle represents the dominant model of life. It is the omnipresent affirmation of the choices that have already been made in the sphere of production and in the consumption implied by that production.” – Excerpts from the sound track, translated by Ken Knabb