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Δευτέρα, 25 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Guy Debord - Sur le passage de quelques personnes à travers une assez courte unité de temps (1959)

On the Passage of a Few People through a Rather Brief Unity of Time
Debord wants nothing to do with a cinematic generation of spectacles aimed at the mass reproduction of passively consumed films. In his persistent efforts to subvert quantitative reductionism and restore the qualitative character of human labour, he "directs" films that refuse to congeal into market commodities. Entrusted to the proletariat, the cinema becomes
a revolutionary weapon and a constitutive element of situations, rather ill-equipped - in the closing words of "On the Passage of a Few Persons through a Rather Brief Unity of Time" (1959) - "to add more ruins to the old world of spectacles and memories."
The semi-nostalgic tone of "On the Passage..." seems to lament the ultimate failure of the Letterists in bringing about world-changing events, while also expressly understanding that true beauty can be achieved only through the revolutionary event and does not present itself in any reified, reproducible work of art. Like Walter Benjamin's thesis on the effects of mechanical reproduction technologies, the Situationists argue that new productive forces demand new modes of aesthetic production, the revolutionary artist must refuse to contribute to the mass accumulation of commodified objects of labour. Artistic creation, consequently, cannot be justified as any sort of superior or compensatory activity, and the art of the future will be nothing if not "the radical transformation of situations", an "extremism independent of any cause."
Like the Letterist protagonists in "On the Passage...", Debord's films ultimately seek "a satisfactory concrete expression of [...] life"; only an "active direct communication" can bridge the dehumanising separation perpetually reinscribed by spectacular society.
With "In girum...", Debord utilises the tools of his medium to achieve a simultaneity of critical negation and positive construction; where the voiceover narration offers a scathing critique of bourgeois cinema, the film structure and image arrangement offers a rather appealing alternative. Reviving an earlier tactic, "On the Passage..." pairs a blank white screen with the claim that an attack on social organisation requires a corresponding disavowal of all forms of language utilised by that organisation, which, of course, is accomplished through the recurrent insertion of pure absence onto the image track of the film.
"On the Passage..." can ultimately be viewed as a documentary whose subject is the "confused totality" in which it - as a reflection of such confusion - exists. Contrary to the spectacle's repression of confusion, Debord challenges us to "imagine the full complexity of a moment that is not resolved into a work." Because of the ruling class monopoly on the means of cultural and artistic production, "an art film on this generation [such as this] can only be a film about its lack of real creations", and the film itself, in its failure to "resolve", mimes this proto-revolutionary lack.

Language: French [optional English subs incl.]
no pass

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