The Society of the Spectacle (A Digital Remix)

"[SOS] is a furious collage of black and white images (and sudden flarings of colour) and theory-saturated subtitles that you can only grasp at as they roll by, occasionally recognise, and go with the odd beauty of their flow. It's appropriately playful ("everything is fucked but fun"), pulsing, pop-ish and engrossing-the hypertext crowd stoked on Godard [...] [T]he rapid editing and churning information flow reflects the struggle to connect with global politics, the impossibility of slowing down, but at the same time conveys a manic playfulness, a creative resistance against considerable odds."    - RealTime magazine

The Society of the Spectacle (A Digital Remix) is a ten-minute DVD art-loop that uses source material from the writing, images, recordings, and other psychogeographical wanderings of arch-Situationist and French philosopher Guy Debord. The art work is composed by members of DJRABBI, a digital art collective of political activists, and includes visual remixes by Rick Silva aka Cuechamp, the sonic detours of Trace Reddell aka the pHarmanaut, and original subtitles by Mark Amerika aka Kid Hassid.

The artists filter the Situationist icons, concepts and strategies through an eclectic mix of contemporary software and "net art ideology", a space of mind where the society of the spectacle becomes hostage to "the virtual condition." But locating a post-Leftist pleasure politics of new media hactivism and social engagement does not require an overturning of terror; rather, it demands an improvisational detour into the spiritual unconscious. Here, an emerging model of the network-distributed art collective decomposes the raw elements of a runaway information economy in order to resituate the role of the artist as intellectual sabateur. Using hyperimprovisational methods and techniques to invent a provocative style of digital poetics, the artists encounter the immediate presence of terror and fear in both political and media culture. Offering neither a spectacular critique of the spectacle nor an apology for their own tendencies toward spectacularly accidental juxtapositions, the artists behind the SOS remix host a polysensory potlatch of conceptual and material resistance against the official, separatist amnesia of historical practice.

This digital remix of the notorious SOS stands on the other side of communication, where it appeals against advertisement culture's perpetual reconciliation of the dominant State with Hollywood blockbusting in order to accelerate the official, and flagrant, destruction of language, image, and sound across the planet. The function of the spectacle is to make culture forget history. It won this war long ago. Now that history is forgotten, preemptive strikes of the reigning oilgarchy merely tear the stitches apart, reopening the old wounds of the defeat of '68. Which brings up the question: what are artists to do?



The visual images of the DVD are an accelerated remix of pictures generated from Google searches on the Internet. The Google "search terms" come from Debord's writing. Each image that is found on the Internet is trimmed and spliced into Debord's original collage of black and white stock footage. Thousands of manipulated images are then compiled into a stream of agit-pop iconography that challenge the viewer's capacity to see the world anew.

The DVD's soundtrack is scored by the pHarmanaut and adopts a new situationist form of détourntablism. Part diversion, part quotation, loops from an undated 7" EP of Debord's proto-human beat boxing and rudimentary organ playing slam into slices of deep house, dub, and punk-disco. The orchestral elements derive from a series of databending scans of Debord's writing. As word count and other data become the notes of a minimal MIDI score, entire chapters of Debord's scathing polemic transform into the varied ambiences of a new sonic psychogeography.

The English subtitles are an on-the-fly remix and overwriting of the original text from the Society of the Spectacle film directed by Debord.

An image of Castro fills the screen. Soon, multiple Castros appear, digital clones of the image - not the Man - and a visual ideology is born. The subtitles say:

"The virtual stripped bare by
all of its political bachelors

seeking a connection."

Later in the DVD, we see images of the City. The soundtrack slips from aloopy carnival theme into subharmonic dub beats. The subtitles read:

"Mobility is what makes us nomadic,
and in moving we become-memory,

momentary light beings accelerating
our bio-mass through the concrete jungles,

spaces structured to dam up our movement
even though we ourselves are leaking."




  About The Artists

Mark Amerika has had four international retrospectives of his digital art work, one at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, one at the Media Arts Plaza in Tokyo, one at Ciber@rt Bilbao 2004, and one at FILE in Sao Paulo. His epic online narrative, GRAMMATRON, was selected for the 2000 Whitney Biennial and his sound art work, PHON:E:ME, wascommissioned by the Walker Art Center and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art. The third and final project in Amerika's net art trilogy is entitled FILMTEXT. The work was commissioned by Playstation 2 as part of his European retrospective and the 2.0 version of the work
premiered at SIGGGRAPH 2002.

Amerika has recently toured parts of Japan, Europe, Australia, and the USA as a VJ performance artist and out of these performances has produced a DVD with surround sound entitled CODEWORK which was recently acquired by the Denver Art Museum for their permanent collection.

His book of selected artist writings, META/DATA: A Digital Poetics, is being published by MIT Press as part the Leonardo Book Series.

He is presently a faculty member in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado, Boulder and more information about his work can be found at his website, markamerika.com.


Trace Reddell explores the intersection of digital media production and theory, microsound and space music, DJ sets, networking technologies, literary criticism and speculative philosophy, and the history of drug culture. Recent works may be found at Stasis_Space, DJRabbi.com, Electronic Book Review, and the U.S. Department of Art and Technology's Tel-SPAN project. Under the names The pHarmanaut and Galactus Zeit, Trace's audio works have been released on several microsound.org compilations and The Communications of Tomorrow label. Trace has recently streamed experimental programs as part of the OpenAir Radiotopia (Ars Electronica 2002) and Platoniq's Open Radio Festival (Barcelona 2003).

Recent publications include articles in Leonardo Music Journal and Electronic Almanac, as well as the Contemporary Music Review. Trace is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Media Studies at the University of Denver, where he also directs the graduate program in DMS. For more information go to http://www.du.edu/~treddell/


Rick Silva (Brazil, 1977) Silva's digital art has shown in festivals and museums in 5 continents. He's performed his most recent work with the DJRabbi collective in Tokyo and London. His work has been written about in the New York Times, the Guardian UK, Liberation, El Pais, and featured on the CBS evening news. ricksilva.net

 

Society of the Spectacle (A Digital Remix) DVD
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Society of the Spectacle (A Digital Remix)
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Exhibitions/Screenings

Meta.Morphosis
Museo Extremeno e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporaneo
Badajoz, Spain
January 27 - May 14, 2006.

Microwave International Media Festival
Hong Kong, PRC
October 20 - November 2, 2005.

Electrofringe
Newcastle, Australia
September 30 - October 3, 2005.

Syntax Root: Loop, London, E:VENT, performance June 17, screening June 18, exhibition June 18 to July 3, 2005.


VIDEOEX Experimentalfilm & Video Festival, Zurich Switzerland, May 20-29, 2005.

Hyperpolis 2.0: The Age of Reason, Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, NY, May 4, 2005

6th Seoul Net and Film Festival, May 1 - June 30 2005

Arco_05, Parque Ferial Juan Carlos I., Madrid, Spain, February 10-14, 2005.

Transmediale International Media Art Festival 2005: Basics, Berlin, Germany, February 4-8, 2005.

RFF 2004, University of Bremen, Germany, Dec. 18, 2004.

Digital Interconnection 2004, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts. Tokyo, Japan. Nov. 7, 2004.

Canariasmediafest, Las Palmas, Spain, October 21-28, 2004

Design In Progress Festival "Society of the Spectacle" Solo Exhibition, Openbare Bibliotheek Eindhoven, Eindhoven, Holland, October 16-26, 2004.

back_up Festival, Festival of New Media in Film - Weimar, Germany, October 7-10, 2004.

Disinformation Center. LUXE Gallery, New York, NY. Aug. 21 - Sept. 4, 2004.

California State Summer Arts Festival. CSU, Fresno, Ca. June 28 - July 2, 2004.

"New Applications in Psychogeographical Research" panel. The Society for Literature and Science's European conference. Paris,France. June 24, 2004.

D>ART04 International Screen category. 2004 Sydney Film Festival. June 11-26 2004.

Machinista 2004: International Arts and Technology Festival. Glasgow, Scotland, and Perm, Russia. May 7-9, 2004.

Ciber@rt Bilbao. Bilbao, Spain. April 23-30, 2004.

Once.Twice 04: Festival of Sound and Video. Mattin Center for the Arts. Baltimore, MD. April 17, 2004.

2nd Annual Cintax Film Forum. U of California, Riverside. April 10, 2004.

Jihui Digital Salon. agent.netart. Parsons School of Design. New York, NY. March 24, 2004.

Le Divan Japonais. Le Divan du Monde. Paris, France. March 1-15, 2004.

World Premiere: Batofar. Paris, France. February 26, 2004.

Biennale de Paris. February 20-March 15, 2004.