Detournement

DETOURNEMENT*

As early as 1958, in the situationist manifesto, Debord described official culture as a “rigged game”, where conservative powers forbid subversive ideas to have direct access to the public discourse. Such ideas get first trivialized and sterilized, and then they are safely incorporated back within mainstream society, where they can be exploited to add new flavors to old dominant ideas.[64] This technique of the spectacle is sometimes called recuperation, and its counter-technique is the détournement.[65]

 

A détournement is a technique developed in the 1950s by the Letterist International,[7][8] and consist in “turning expressions of the capitalist system against itself,” [66] like turning slogans and logos against the advertisers or the political status quo.[67]

 

The core arguments of the Situationist International were an attack on the capitalist degradation of the life of people[3][72][73] and the fake models advertised by the mass media,[3] to which the Situationist responded with alternative life experiences.[74][3]

 

It was not by chance that May ’68, whose main feature was the largest general strike that ever stopped the economy of an advanced industrial country[75] and the first wildcat general strike in history,[75] was instead depicted by most media outlets as “student protests”.

 

The first edition of Internationale Situationniste defines the constructed situation as “a moment of life concretely and deliberately constructed by the collective organization of a unitary ambiance and a game of events.”

 

The situationists observed that the worker of advanced capitalism still only functions with the goal of survival. In a world where technological efficiency has increased production exponentially, by tenfold, the workers of society still dedicate the whole of their lives to survival, by way of production. The purpose for which advanced capitalism is organized isn’t luxury, happiness, or freedom, but production. The production of commodities is an end to itself; and production by way of survival.

 

The theorists of the Situationist International regarded the current paradigm of work in advanced capitalist society as increasingly absurd. As technology progresses, and work becomes exponentially efficient, the work itself becomes exponentially more trivial.

 

*Excerpts from Wikipedia

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