Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathSociety
La societé du spectacle (Debord, Guy), 1967

icon: previous page

creating aesthetic objects in favor of socially constructing situations aimed not at art but at life—and this was long before happenings and performance were discussed in the art context.[6] Central to Guy Debord's «Rapport sur la construction des situations,» which appeared in the late 1950s, was «the demand not to limit oneself to producing works of art any more, but to raise artistic practice to the level of the technological possibilities offered by modern industrial societies.»[7] The Situationists coined the term détournement (diversion) and the concept of dérive (drift), intended as a criticism of town planning at the time. In «La société du spectacle» (1967), Debord's two hundred and twenty-one theses analyzed the way power and sovereignty function in bourgeois society. In the second half of the 1960s, Debord's theory became increasingly more radical, leading to subversive campaigns for a revolutionary change in society. This made the Situationists important driving forces behind May 1968 in Paris. The general strike arising from a student revolt, and the occupation of universities and factories, brought the bourgeois state to the brink of collapse.


In the context of May 1968, film directors like Chris Marker, Alain Resnais and Jean-Luc Godard worked on making anonymous «CINEtracts» (film flyers). These attempted to review the immediate daily events in short silent film montages with subtitles, thus pursuing an agitatory and didactic role, reminiscent of the Dziga Vertov model.[8] Godard had been seen as the most original and radical exponent of the French ‹Nouvelle Vague› with his feature film début «A bout de souffle» (1959), and became increasingly radical in the late 1960s as a result of the Vietnam war. He did not just want to «make political films,» but to «make films politically,» to be «militant» (Godard). With the socialist theoretician and ex-student leader Jean-Pierre Gorin he founded the «Dziga Vertov» group to produce revolutionary films in a collective outside the commercial cinema.[9] When the Sonimage studio was set up (1973) with Anne-Marie Miéville, Jean-Luc Godard became one of the first film directors to come to terms with the medium of video.[10] He now turned to concrete images and sounds that leave their traces in everyday life—mainly advertisements from magazines, television commercials and icons of political reporting.

icon: next page