response to crary and groys

notes on crary, “spectacle, attention, counter-memory”

lays out different ideas of spectacle

  • spectacle as “imposition of illusory unity onto a more heterogenous field” or “a new opiate-of-the-masses type of explanation” or “the moment when sign-value takes precedence over use-value”
  • post-Haussmann Paris as “the visible expression of a new alignment of class relations”
  • “the spectacle as a new kind of power of recuperation and absorption, a capacity to neutralize and assimilate acts of resistance by converting them into objects of images of consumption” omg yes
  • Debord names 1927 as birth of society of the spectacle. perfection of television. “new kind of image and its speed, ubiquity, and simultaneity.” film. the jazz singer. synchronized sound and image, distribution all controlled by corporate/military/government.
  • from 1890s into 1930s, mainstream psychology’s problem of attention. “how many sources of stimulation could one attend to simultaneously?” concept of a range of attention
  • walter benjamin: “redundancy of representation, with its accompanying inhibition and impoverishment of memory, was what Benjamin saw as the standardization of perception, or what we might call an effect of spectacle.” thinking about collective memory, the potential for social reawakening
  • “Debord sees the core of the spectacle as the annihilation of historical knowledge… the reign of the perpetual present”
  • note to self: check out Henri Bergson Matter and Memory

didn’t know this:

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notes on groys, “comrades of time” with my questions/comments in bold

“Politically, we can speak about modern utopias as post-historical spaces of accumulated time, in which the finiteness of the present was seen as being potentially compensated for by the infinite time of the realized project: that of an artwork, or a political utopia.” what does this mean? 

“when the final product is realized, the time that was used for its production disappears.” reminds me of charles’ piece on rodrigo valenzuela and construction sites. he writes: “We walk under scaffolds in the hope they do not collapse on us. And later, when the buildings are complete and the scaffolds are gone, the politics of construction become invisible.”

interesting: “Today, we are stuck in the present as it reproduces itself without leading to any future. We simply lose our time, without being able to invest it securely, to accumulate it, whether utopically or heterotopically. The loss of the infinite historical perspective generates the phenomenon of unproductive, wasted time. However, one can also interpret this wasted time more positively, as excessive time—as time that attests to our life as pure being-in-time, beyond its use within the framework of modern economic and political projects.”

“One is reminded here of Camus’ Sisyphus, a proto-contemporary-artist whose aimless, senseless task of repeatedly rolling a boulder up a hill can be seen as a prototype for contemporary time-based art.” no.

“And Georges Bataille thematized the repetitive excess of time, the unproductive waste of time, as the only possibility of escape from the modern ideology of progress.” yes.


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