The Interactive Spectacle and the Digital Situationist

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    During the 1960s, the ‘Situationists’ defined ‘The Society of the Spectacle’ as the alienation of the individual by an increasingly mediated and commoditized modern world that has spread across the globe, pacifying its audience with the manufacture of lack and the control of desire. Railing against this spread of spectacular culture, the Situationists sought to free themselves from it by employing direct action and the creation of ‘situations’ that attempted to make clear the restrictive boundaries, both intellectual and environmental, that the habituated processes of modern capitalism (in the form of production and consumption, work and leisure) had placed upon everyday life.
    Now, in the era of an emergent digital and interactive spectacle that permeates every aspect of our culture, I argue that what has been added to the spectacle is the illusion of agency administered through new technological conduits. For example, virtual environments only deliver visitation and visualization of places that, despite attempts at access by the viewer, remain remote. I also argue that in our new digitally enhanced cultural spaces, despite restrictions, radical interventions can still be made. Digital technology has provided platforms for expressing opinion that was previously impossible in older media forms, however they are limited and for many they are not accessible at all.
    I put forward the case that Situationist theory should take its place in helping to describe such ‘situations’. In doing so, I critique several examples of contemporary radical artistic intervention in relation to the Situationist practices of the dérive and détournement. This critique reveals how situationist ideas can help us understand our increasingly technologized world and our struggle for agency and control of these spaces and the effects they have on our everyday lives.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationExploration of Space, Technology and Spatiality
    Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Perspectives
    EditorsP. Turner, S. Turner, E. Davenport
    Place of PublicationHershey
    PublisherInformation Science Reference
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Print)9781605660202
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Interaction
    • Spectacle
    • Situationist


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