“Representations have become more powerful than the material reality itself.”i
When we make representations, we never accurately reach that which is being represented. There is a gulf between the object and the subject, and this gulf extends even to these separated – perhaps erroneously! – entities. We find ourselves reiterating what was said at the beginning of “On the foreclosure of possibility in everyday life.” Let us begin anew.
In the 1960s it was believed that changes in mass media technologies would usher in a global village, that the acceleration of these visual-machinic variations would produce a techno-tribal social order. It did not matter how information was circulated; importance was attributed to the medium as that which generated an era’s environment. We agree with this assessment, and we see the global village extending towards all corners of the earth. While the imagery of the technological shaman has gone, disappeared with the rave scene of yesterday, the vast proliferation of countercultures, subcultures, protocultures and postcultures can be seen as the return of the tribal to the contours of contemporary life. William Gibson imagined himself in the future when he wrote of an accelerated world where “entire subcultures could rise overnight, thrive for a dozen weeks, and then vanish utterly.”ii The world he was describing was the one we now inhabit.
Unlike the vision of the dreamers, the global village is not a utopia. It is completely and utterly subsumed in the political project of neoliberal capital; it requires neoliberal capital for its production and reproduction. The global village’s electronic mediation is an array of signs and symbols circulated through neoliberalism’s neural mesh – these signs cannot be divorced from the power that enables them with the means to circulate. The global village becomes the Situationist’s projection of the so-called Spectacle – social life mediated by images – extended to the point where it becomes a transnational smooth space, a viscous consistency that merely represents mediation.
The primary conduit of the Spectacle is the media apparatuses. Every event that transpires is reduced down to an array of signs compatible for fast circulation: it is attached to stereotypes, mottled to buzzwords, reflective of class, business, and political interests, reduced to the barest minimum, and the complexity of the conditions brought into the most linear of causalities. Hierarchies of event are created within media systems to give precedent of one “story” over another, either to play into bias or to simply capitulate to the whims of the market. When it comes to the media, it is information for consumption that requires highest priority, followed by information of the event, subjected to an array of filters and augmentations. If the viscosity of the global village has an emotive ambiance, a great deal of it would be paranoia. We can’t ever be sure if the event happened in the way that is portrayed, or even if happened at all. Philosophy has made ‘solipsism’ a dirty word, a bad taste in the mouth. But we can see that the embrace of the solipsism is an all-too-real byproduct of the postmodern condition. Everywhere is information, but none of it verifiable.
Isn’t this all too tidy, dialectical? If the prophets of the Spectacle – the Situationists, and later Baudrillard – are followed, we find that in some primordial past there must have been there, a state of pure information. The Committee disavows this understanding; we know that no concrete territory is hidden away under the map, no total object underneath the representation. When we remove historical determinism from the equation, we realize the nuances in the question of the media: Spectacle, Simulation are possible because it has always been Spectacle, Simulation. Signs referring to nothing except themselves circulate, but we should not look at them and ask “is this true?” Instead, we should ask ourselves “what can this do?”
We affirm the use of the media not as a means of transmitting pure information, but as a terrain of the struggle. Against corporate media, state media we call for the utilization of tactical media to grasp, subvert, detourn, negate, parody, confuse, or eliminate that which produces the Spectacle we are now in. Against their Spectacle the Committee for the Liberation of Autonomous Amusement wants to pit our own Spectacle, one that is reflective of rhizomatic imagination, participatory, and ephemeral.
A member of the Committee once had a job that he waged ‘low-intensity sabotage’ against. Everyday he would take a screwdriver, and remove a single screw from somewhere in the building. Though he quit before critical mass was reached, the gradual removal of screws destabilized the structure, created precarity in the environment, and increased the likelihood of things breaking down ‘on their own accord.’
We find much to admire in this strategy, and the Committee calls for the importation of it into a tactical media setting. Our common enemy operates immaterially; even if the conditions for capital’s monopolization of the Social are material, it is the flow of information and signs that allow the machine to propagate itself. Instead of removing material screws, we want to inject altered information across all coordinates. This mutation will spread, coalesce, circulate. It will destabilize the foundations of the Spectacle; pierce the side of this environment and all matter of bizarre things, divergent strands, deterritorializations, unreasonable desires and prohibited images will leak out.
[The CLAA is an open name, welcome to appropriation. Feel free to fold-up, adapt, mutate, disavow, and/or circulate]
iEvinç Doğan “City as Spectacle: The Festivalization of Culture in Contemporary Istanbul”; in Young Mind Rethinking the Mediterranean Global Political Trends Center, 2011, pg. 69
iiWilliam Gibson Neuromancer Ace Books, 2000 (reprint edition)