Depoliticized Media Spectacle
Society of the Spectacle
Please remember to submit your Course Evaluation on Canvas!
All Research Papers now due on Canvas
The Final Quiz, which is cumulative and worth 45 points, will be available on Canvas by Saturday, December 12 and must be submitted before midnight on Wednesday, December 16.
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, 1967.











"In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation." - Guy Debord

The Venetian in Las Vegas











The Situationists International

The Worrying Duck

Founded in 1957, the Situationists International was an avant-garde activist group that attacked capitalism in Western society for transforming citizens into passive consumers of depoliticized media spectacle. They asserted that the spectacle replaced active participation in public life.


Asger Jorn, The Worrying Duck, 1959.











The highly influential Situationist book The Society of the Spectacle argued that spectacular features like mass media and advertising have a central role in an advanced capitalist society, which is to show a fake reality in order to mask the real capitalist degradation of human life. To overthrow such a system, the group supported the May 1968 revolts in Paris, and asked the workers to occupy the factories and to run them with direct democracy, through workers' councils composed by instantly revocable delegates.

Sorbonne Graffitti

"Humanity won't be happy until the day the last bureaucrat is hung with the guts of the last capitalist."
Situationist vandalism inside the Sobornne University, 1968











The Situationist International were heavily involved in the student/worker demonstrations and protests of 1968. The group rejected all art that separated itself from politics, and believed that the notion of artistic expression being separated from politics and current events “renders artwork that expresses comprehensive critiques of society impotent.” - Art Daily October 11, 2012


University of Lyon, 1968











  • We will ask nothing. We will demand nothing. We will take, occupy.
  • Expect anything. Fear nothing.
  • Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!
  • Those who make revolutions half way only dig their own graves.
  • Boredom is a pattern, not reality.
  • We don’t want a world where the guarantee of not dying of starvation brings the risk of dying of boredom.
  • In a society that has abolished every kind of adventure the only adventure that remains is to abolish the society.
  • Warning: ambitious careerists may now be disguised as “progressives.”
  • Stalinists, your children are with us!
  • A single nonrevolutionary weekend is infinitely more bloody than a month of total revolution.
  • Under the paving stones, the beach.
  • Live without dead time.
  • Be realistic, demand the impossible.
  • If God existed it would be necessary to abolish him.
  • Fall in love, not in line!
Situationist Graffitti in Paris, May 1968.











Guy Debord's aim and proposal, was "to wake up the spectator who has been drugged by spectacular images," "through radical action in the form of the construction of situations," "situations that bring a revolutionary reordering of life, politics, and art." In the Situationist view, situations are actively created moments characterized by "a sense of self-consciousness of existence within a particular environment or ambience."

Christo, Wrapped sculpture in the garden of the Villa Borghese, Rome
Barry Le Va, On Edge, Shatter, Scatter, 1968.












Dane's Presentation on Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Work











Feminists protest 1968 Miss America Pageant











Fluxus = (from Latin "to flow") is an experimental art movement noted for the blending of different artistic disciplines
George Maciunas, Fluxus Manifesto, 1962 or 1963.
George Maciunas, Piano Piece, 1962.











Shigeko Kubota, Vagina Painting, 1965.











Painting to Hammer a Nail In

Yoko Ono, Painting to Hammer a Nail In, 1961.











Yoko Ono, Earth Piece, 1963.
Yoko Ono, Collecting Piece, 1963.











Ceiling Painting

Ceiling Painting

Yoko Ono, Ceiling Painting, 1966.









*Cut Piece

First version for single performer:

Performer sits on stage with a pair of scissors in front of him. It is announced that members of the audience may come on stage one at a time to cut a small piece of the performer's clothing to take with them.

Performer remains motionless throughout the piece. Piece ends at the performer's option.

Second version for audience: It is announced that members of the audience may cut each others clothing.

* The audience may cut as long as they wish

Cut Piece

Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, 1965. Carnegie Hall.










Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, Performed on September 15, 2003 at Theatre Le Ranelagh, Paris, France.










“I felt really violated: they cut my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the public. Everyone ran away, escaping an actual confrontation.” - Marina Abramovic
Abramovic recalls the performance
Marina Abramovic, Rhythm 0, 1974.