The Society of the Spectacle (A Digital Remix) is a ten-minute DVD art-loop that uses source material from the writing, images, recordings, and other psychogeographical wanderings of arch-Situationist and French philosopher Guy Debord. The art work is composed by members of DJRABBI, a digital art collective of political activists, and includes Mark Amerika, Rick Silva, and Trace Reddell.
The artists filter the Situationist icons, concepts and strategies through an eclectic mix of contemporary software and “net art ideology”, a space of mind where the society of the spectacle becomes hostage to “the virtual condition.” But locating a post-Leftist pleasure politics of new media hactivism and social engagement does not require an overturning of terror; rather, it demands an improvisational detour into the spiritual unconscious. Here, an emerging model of the network-distributed art collective decomposes the raw elements of a runaway information economy in order to resituate the role of the artist as intellectual sabateur. Using hyperimprovisational methods and techniques to invent a provocative style of digital poetics, the artists encounter the immediate presence of terror and fear in both political and media culture. Offering neither a spectacular critique of the spectacle nor an apology for their own tendencies toward spectacularly accidental juxtapositions, the artists behind the SOS remix host a polysensory potlatch of conceptual and material resistance against the official, separatist amnesia of historical practice.
This digital remix of the notorious SOS stands on the other side of communication, where it appeals against advertisement culture’s perpetual reconciliation of the dominant State with Hollywood blockbusting in order to accelerate the official, and flagrant, destruction of language, image, and sound across the planet. The function of the spectacle is to make culture forget history. It won this war long ago. Now that history is forgotten, preemptive strikes of the reigning oilgarchy merely tear the stitches apart, reopening the old wounds of the defeat of ’68. Which brings up the question: what are artists to do?
The visual images of the DVD are an accelerated remix of pictures generated from Google searches on the Internet. The Google “search terms” come from Debord’s writing. Each image that is found on the Internet is trimmed and spliced into Debord’s original collage of black and white stock footage. Thousands of manipulated images are then compiled into a stream of agit-pop iconography that challenge the viewer’s capacity to see the world anew.
The DVD’s soundtrack is scored by the pHarmanaut and adopts a new situationist form of détourntablism. Part diversion, part quotation, loops from an undated 7″ EP of Debord’s proto-human beat boxing and rudimentary organ playing slam into slices of deep house, dub, and punk-disco. The orchestral elements derive from a series of databending scans of Debord’s writing. As word count and other data become the notes of a minimal MIDI score, entire chapters of Debord’s scathing polemic transform into the varied ambiences of a new sonic psychogeography.
The English subtitles are an on-the-fly remix and overwriting of the original text from the Society of the Spectacle film directed by Debord.
An image of Castro fills the screen. Soon, multiple Castros appear, digital clones of the image – not the Man – and a visual ideology is born. The subtitles say:
“The virtual stripped bare by
all of its political bachelors
seeking a connection.”
Later in the DVD, we see images of the City. The soundtrack slips from aloopy carnival theme into subharmonic dub beats. The subtitles read:
“Mobility is what makes us nomadic,
and in moving we become-memory,
momentary light beings accelerating
our bio-mass through the concrete jungles,
spaces structured to dam up our movement
even though we ourselves are leaking.”
For more information, visit the DJRABBI website.