Archiv für März 2012

from playground to battlefield

situationist urbanism versus european cities

The situationist idea to let old city structures like the labyrinths of Amsterdam grow into superstructures across the whole planet with psychogeographic zones according to the needs of the inhabitants (titled “New Babylon”) was defeated by european cities being a collage of old and new. The old often being a simulacrum (e.g. the Goethehaus in Frankfurt which was reconstructed as if Nazi Germany and the bombing of it didn’t exist), and next to it zones of shopping, tourism, finance, industry, housing and regeneration instead of zones being open to consumption and transformation by the users.

Le Corbusier was recuperated in la Défense, the concept behind New Babylon of unitarian urbanism was defeated as a whole. The situationist attempt wasn’t the directorial cuts of Haussmann that shape Paris until today, but rather cutting up the whole and to issue a socio-organic growth where the useful parts of present urban structures are appropriated. It wasn’t aimed at being a structuralist attempt, the core idea was the creation of an all-embracing playground (with playing being a serious and open process instead of a superflous activity).

The situationists changed their strategy before the defeat. The core group gave up the plans of New Babylon, their former member Constant Nieuwenhuys moved to producing artistic instead of architectonic models of it (judging from an art historian point of view, for himself this step most probably doesn’t exist). The last situationist after all splits, Guy Debord, whose own artistic mode had become the essay film as an attack on the images of culture industry, later moved on to creating a game to train the people of the importance of communication networks on battlegrounds.

(thoughs after receiving a postcard from mulhouse. the picture on the card can also be found here.)

the screen generation II

screen generation

“In twenty-first century, whoever controls the screen controls consciousness, information and thought. The screen is a mirror of your mind, get it? If you are passively watching screens, you are getting programed. If you are editing you own screen, you are in control of you mind. George Orwell had it wrong. He was too optimistic. He wrote in 1984 that Big Brother would watch us from screens on the walls of our living rooms or bedrooms. But that is nothing. You could always duck out of sight. The current horror is that Americans voluntarily stick their amoeboid faces toward the screen six or seven hours a day and suck up information that Big Brother is putting there. Here is the key to our future: We can and will control our own screens. We are designing software that will empower you to produce and direct your own mind movies, your own prime-time shows.” Timothy Leary – 1987 Rolling Stone Magazine

Timothy Leary and George Orwell got it wrong, your own screen is your means of production in the market competition. The diffuse spectacle gets produced in an integrated mode (Debord). Work expands into free time (Adorno). A podcast economically is not a primetime show, because it’s tendency is superflous, hobby work. States will soon have to provide a basic income for the superflous people out of work, resulting in the eternalization of the poverty of the precarious proletariate. This is the real meaning of Big Brother, not a policy-maker, but state as a father figure that cares for you. You don’t get fed with information, you get fed with the self-reflection of today’s citizenship, with the ideology of the republic, with the consciousness of the free market. The tendency of this ideology being produced as media products by all, does not automatically question the hegemony of power. By reformulating the analysis of state and power to seemingly concrete entities little “Big Brother” in the sense of central authorities that need to be attacked, the perspective of using the means of production for subverting the mode of production got hurt. In the field of ideology it’s not the people against The Man today, it’s the people against themselves, the praxis of future politics will have to evolve from a process of critique. Participation is an empty phrase, as long as markets and thus the dogma of profitability are used to regulate it.

(just a little follow-up to The Screen Generation, Cult of the Dead Cow TexXxt #412 08/29/2008)