Depoliticized Media Spectacle
"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

Society of the Spectacle

The Venetian in Las Vegas
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, 1967.











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.











Painting to Hammer a Nail In

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











Ceiling Painting

Yoko Ono, Ceiling Painting, 1966.











Ceiling Painting











*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.











Yayoi Kusama, Anatomic Explosion Wall Street, 1968.











Feminists protest 1968 Miss America Pageant
Malcolm Browne, Thích Quiang Duc's self-immolation, 1963











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

Vandalism in 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











Paris University Graffitti

  • 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!
"Life instead" graffiti at the University of Paris, May 1968.











Situationist International from on Vimeo.











1968 and Anti Form
  • North Korea captures US spy ship and takes crew hostage
  • North Vietnam launches Tet offensive eventually leading to U.S. withdrawal
  • Czechoslovakia invaded by Russia
  • Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinated
  • Marcel Duchamp dies
  • Olympic medalists, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists during the National Anthem to protest racism
  • German students protest capitalism and the exploitation of the common man
  • French student and worker strikes nearly bring down the government
  • Students at Columbia, NYU, Kent State and other universities protest wars in Vietnam & Cambodia, the draft, and institutionalized racism
  • Pope condemns birth control
  • Star Trek airs first interracial kiss on US television
  • First manned spacecraft orbits the moon. Apollo 11 will land on the moon the following year.
  • Worst oil spill yet off the coast of Santa Barbara leads to the establishment of the EPA and largest oil reserve in North America discovered in Alaska











Columbia Student Protest, 1968.

More on the Columbia University Action











Guy Debord's aim and proposal, is "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.











Arte Povera = Arte povera means literally ‘poor art’ but the word poor here refers to the movement’s signature exploration of a wide range of materials beyond the traditional ones of oil paint on canvas, bronze, or carved marble. Materials used by the artists included soil, rags and twigs. In using such throwaway materials they aimed to challenge and disrupt the values of the commercialised contemporary gallery system. - Tate Museum


Michelangelo Pistoletto, Venus of the Rags, 1967 and 1974.











Jannis Kournellis, Untitled (12 horses), 1969.











1968 Earthwork movement launched by
group exhibition "Earthworks" at the Dwan Gallery
Earthworks = (a.k.a. Land art) form of art which came to prominence in the late 60s and 70s primarily concerned with the natural environment. Materials such as rocks, sticks, soil, and plants are commonly used, and the works frequently exist in the open and are left to change and erode under natural conditions.
Robert Smithson essay A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects provided a critical framework for the movement
Robert Smithson, Nonsite, 1968.











Spiral Jetty

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970.























Sprial Jetty film stills

Robert Smithson, Documentation of film stills from Spiral Jetty, 1970.











Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty made pink by algae in the Great Salt Lake, 2011











Robert Smithson, Partially Buried Woodshed, 1970.











Partially Buried Woodshed
Partially Buried Woodshed
Partially Buried Woodshed
Robert Smithson, Partially Buried Woodshed, 1970 to present day.
in progress
January 1970
current state











Entropy = 1) a measure of the amount of energy in a physical system that cannot be used to do work; a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system's thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system. 2) lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.
ice water
Related to the Second Law of Thermodynamics = the idea that energy dissipates toward a disintegrated homogeneity of matter. Entropy negates the concept of progress on the scale of geological time.
a classic example of entropy described in 1862 by Rudolf Clausius as an increase in the disgregation of the molecules of the body of ice.











National Guard descneding on protesters at Kent State University May, 1970.











Kent State

John Paul Filo, 14-year-old Mary Ann Vecchio kneels over the dead body of Jeffrey Miller, who was shot by the Ohio National Guard during the Kent State shootings, 1970.


Kent State student Alan Canfora speaks about the shooting of Jeffrey Milller





















Mexican Professor Protesting with 43 Chairs, November, 2014.
His sign reads, “I can’t teach, I’m missing 43. I don’t want you to go missing next.”











"The memories I have of that time are images that penetrated my consciousness. The last thing I remember was that it was too late to jump, too late for the parachutes to open. That must have been a couple of seconds before hitting the ground. Luckily I was not strapped in – I always preferred free movement to safety belts… My friend was strapped in and he was atomized on impact – there was almost nothing to be found of him afterwards. But I must have shot through the windscreen as it flew back at the same speed as the plane hit the ground and that saved me, though I had bad skull and jaw injuries. Then the tail flipped over and I was completely buried in the snow. That's how the Tartars found me days later. I remember voices saying ‘Voda’ (Water), then the felt of their tents, and the dense pungent smell of cheese, fat and milk. They covered my body in fat to help it regenerate warmth, and wrapped it in felt as an insulator to keep warmth in." Beuys in Caroline Tisdall's Joseph Beuys











Joseph Beuys, Filter Fat Corner, 1963.











Joseph Beuys, The Chief- Fluxus Chant, December 1, 1964.


"Such an action, and indeed every action, changes me radically. In a way it's a death, a real action and not an interpretation." - Beuys











Joseph Beuys, How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, 1965.




















"The whole thing is a therapeutic process. For me it was a time when I realized the part the artist can play in indicating the traumas of a time and initiating a healing process." - Joseph Beuys
Joseph Beuys











Joseph Beuys, Coyote, "I Like America and America Likes Me," 1974.











I Like America and America Likes Me

I Like America and America Likes Me

Joseph Beuys, Coyote, "I Like America and America Likes Me," 1974.





















Thank you!