BILLBOARDS AS A FACE OF THE SPECTACLE: 2 DIMENSIONAL PORTALS TO THE 4TH DIMENSION
- Written by CLASS
recuperation of anti art and anti political practices are further evidence, as if any was needed, of the collapse of capitalist neoliberal democracy.
recently grafitti and vandalism has become accepted into the cannon of art and so now even the vandalism of political propoganda is being reported in an attempt to increase political propoganda through its negation. Also, drawing marginal parties into the mainstream of the political circuit also serves this function.
it is evident of course that the reporting online and in print, of the vandalism of political propoganda never focusses on the revolutionary aspect of the act itself - the self organisation of the producers of daily life.
the subvertising/ detournement/ vandalism/ defacement/ appropriation (your own preferred word here) of propoganda this year raises some interesting questions. since the 60s groups like the billboard liberation front have developed understanding of media jamming/ semiotic/cultural trrsm - detournment but it is worrying that especially since things have progressed so much with the praxis online, there is little theoretical clarity. that said it is good to see various different methods being used in a political context recently.
Some examples of media coverage of this include an art critic reviewing some billboard posters attacked by anti-fascists. In this article he mentions one in Nottingham and references Situationism. However he shows his ignorance by not mentioning psychogeography or indeed hypergraphy let alone situgraphy. The TV art critic is of course partly right to say that the torn paper on a billboard is referencing situations. The billboard in question is of course an application of Ultra-Lettrist techniques.
An ex-KLF artist also gets in on the act by painting over a billboard in Birmingham. By stating in the media that the act is based on moral and aestheitcal concerns he sides with art as a construction. The meeting of aesthetics and politics has been gone into in boring length in analyses of fascism and its worth noting here that his tactic is thus akin to those who promote Shariah and paint over billboards and other street adverts with white paint, in order to obscure the flesh of the women portrayed.
It is the DUO collective from Bristol who went one step further in their Advert Expressionism manifesto by first trying different paint application methods but concluding by removing the whole billboard. But what has not so far been looked at in the development of these attacks on the spectacle in terms of techniques is the interplay between the street and the internet. In other words the metagraphy as well as the hypergraphy.
We have commented elsewhere on how rather than look at personalities, psychogeography is best understood by looking at both origin of hypergraphy/metagraphy and amplitude of situgraphy. But in order to understand a situation - how it is created - we need to look at the workers involved and make contact with them. there are various players at work here.
When a Situationist in 1968 claimed the grafittied slogan "ne travailler jamais" (never work) as his own, in a letter to a company that was selling postcards of it, the point is not whether he painted the words onto the building himself or not. Attaching a name and ownership to something that has legally only been disowned - he was negating its comodification. this is the central point of the si - the self organisation of the producers of everyday life.
the difference between this and a famous graffiti artist who plagiarised the zine 'Crap Hound' in a piece of text on advertising is important: where the situationist can open up dialogue, the artist wants only to create money. however the billboards cases above show how recuperation is not about individuals actions but the situation in which they are carried out and re-used in extention. the institutions involved outside of the here and now which are present through extentions in space time and class.
Working class organisation, beyond the spontaneous, will rely on attacking and reshaping media and controlling it ourselves directly. as psychic workers we must be centred in the here and now - the starting point for the creation of situations - with no hieracrchy of class, space or time. However we must acknowledge that there is a hierarchy and we cannot ignore it. The radical potential of vandalism does not end when the consumer becomes the producer or indeed the destroyer. It must involve a dialogue with all workers along the process of production transportation and consumption.
Note: Names removed from the above text: Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, Bill Drummond, UKIP, Andrew Graham-Dixon, Guy Debord, Banksy, Ian Sinclair, Ralph Rumney
Destructive Workers Union