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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathDebord

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puts it, years later, in a veiled reference to this advertisement: «When one loves life, one goes to the movies —see the «Situationists at the movies»[fig. 6.3a]« [8] The resistance to a facile collapsing of cinema and spectacle is imperative if one is to understand the complex relationship between the Situationist International (SI) and the filmic medium. To the extent that cinema is synonymous with spectacle—a spatialization of time, a staging of separation, a fostering of passivity, alienation, and so on—it is simply unacceptable and must be eliminated. Along with similar forms of spectacle, Debord insists that «the cinema, too, must be destroyed« [9]. The question remains, however, to what extent the condemnation of cinema here is a critique of the politics of the «apparatus» analogous to arguments put forth by Martin Heidegger an later by Jean-Louis Baudry and Jean-Louis Comolli regarding the objectification inherent in the very structure of representation. [10] For it might be that what is at issue here is not the cinema as such, but rather a historically specific set of cinematic practices, a certain cinema—classic, commercial, industrialized, narrativized, and so forth.


As Debord notes: «It is society and not technology that has made cinema what it is. The cinema could have been historical examination, theory, essay, memories.» [11] This leaves open the possibility of an alternative sort of cinematic activity incompatible with the economy of spectacle, a nonspectacular, antispectacular, or other-than-spectacular cinema. Such a realm of possibility is the precondition of what one might call Situationist Cinema.

3. The Situationist International and the artistic Avant-Garde

The interest in film on the part of the SI must be understood in light of the significance in its genealogy of the artistic avant-garde: an important dimension of what could be called the «Situationist Project» involved the production of (art) works. It was essential, however, that such works be critiques of the current historical moment and contain their own negation—that is, they should be in a sense antiworks. As Raoul Vaneigem phrased it in a statement put forth at the fifth SI conference in Göteborg, Sweden (August 1961): «It is a question not of elaborating the spectacle of refusal, but rather of refusing the spectacle. In order for their elaboration to be artistic in the new

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