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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathDebord

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Dismantling the Spectacle: The cinema of Guy Debord »Ciné qua non«: Guy Debord and Filmic Practice as Theory
icon: authorThomas Levin

The artist and theoretician Guy Debord formulated a radical critique of society in the 1960s with his theses about the »society of spectacle«. The term spectacle is used to criticize socio-economic conditions (e.g. alienation) as conveyed by images from the mass media (cinema and television). Debord is a leading member of the Situationist Internationale (SI), which adopted an ambivalent attitude towards the cinema in the first issue (1958) of its magazine Internationale situationiste (IS). On the one hand, it insisted that the existing cinema should be destroyed. But then strategies were developed, e.g. use for another purpose (détournement), which was deployed to reinterpret entire films, by adding a new soundtrack, for example. Guy Debord was also a filmmaker himself. His films were shown in a dedicated cinema in Paris, until Debord withdrew them as a protest in 1984. He kept the films under lock and key until giving permission for them to be shown again on television a few weeks after he committed suicide (1994). The strategies of withdrawal followed by duplication on television once more show Debord's ambivalent attitude towards the cinema. They also suggest a practical reflection on television as a medium, which had started to use films for a different purpose in a completely different way, and at the same time identify the cinema as a device, i.e. as a specifically historical disposition of social media practice. [more]more

Text Sections
icon: heading 1. The Society of the Spectacleicon: heading 2. Spectacle und Cinemaicon: heading 3. The Situationist International and the artistic Avant-Gardeicon: heading 4. The Situationistist International and the Cinemaicon: heading 5. The Visual-acoustic détournementicon: heading 6. Filmic Practiceicon: heading 7. Guy Debord as a filmmakericon: heading 8. Postface: Debord and the Dispositifs of Cinema