Focussing on Small Scale Dilemmas
An intro to a series of posts on the Situationists International.
I learned of the Situationists International in my Architecture Theory and Critique class taught by Greig Crysler and it quickly became one of my favorite movements within the course of Architectural Theory. The group as formed in Europe by people opposed to Capitalism and it’s control over the everyday life. Their concepts that I find to be most influential in Architectural Design include The Spectacle and Society, Detournement, Anti-Capitalism, Psychogeography, The Derive, and Work Leisure and Play. Over the next several posts I will be giving a basic definition of one of these concepts and giving my opinion in how it can and should be considered for design today.
The concepts of the Situationists International (SI) were already being formed during the 1940’s and Letterism, which was a new approach to poetry by Isidore Isou, a Romanian born living in Paris. In addition to Letterism, SI has been influenced from the Dada and Surrealism movements in art and their non-logical approach to aspects. It is this alternate form of thinking that helped form the Situationists.
The way the Situationists International believed people should live their lives is related to the Cartoon Theory in Architecture. The alternate form which can be a phenomenon can be making a decision that you would not normally make. In a pamphlet for San Francisco Transit, David Jacobs speaks of public transit as a means to an end, or transit as a sole purpose for getting to work. And it is because of this mindset while on public transit one cannot achieve an alternate world but be stuck in the boring one that he or she forms repeated habits that subconsciously torture. This phenomenon can also be a Chance Encounter between two individuals whether they know each other or not.
The world now has become to individualistic from private cars to texting while walking. The idea of technology hurting more than helping has become more prevalent in the recent years because of new technological advances. With a GPS it is truly impossible to learn about the different cultures and neighborhoods of an American city. This idea of an Chance Encounter or Phenomenon in an alternate world caused by a decision that otherwise would not have been made due to habits. I first studied designing an alternate world in my last summer studio in which I placed a take out only meat restaurant which showcased its cooking process to the center of the building where there is most likely chances of gatherings. Because of the location of the restaurant and interactive cooking process over an open flame it created a place for people to gather and conversations to spark.
I’ll finish with one of my most favorite ideas of the Situationists International, and thats the idea that information should be freely available to the public in forms anyone can easily obtain. Because of this idea, they freely posted all of their articles and cartoons to anyone who wanted them. With new technology these articles have been posted freely online available to anyone with access to the internet. This cartoon is poking fun at maps. People often get confused looking down at a map then looking up to see where they are and what direction they are headed giving them vertigo. However with the Situationists idea of drifting through the city without looking at a map, you cannot get bored or vertigo. This will be further explained in another post on Psychogeography and The Derive. NotBored