UNDER THE INFLUENCE
It is often the case with creatives that we feel we do not fit into the constraints of society. We have strong opinions on political and social matters and sometimes struggle for our voices to be heard. We are governed by the media and culture of the modern day and, therefore, we feel at a loss as to the impact our feelings can truly have. This was exactly how the Situationists felt when the group started in 1957. Images in all forms had replaced individual thoughts and in turn created a hierarchical divide between the media and the people. “In the field of culture Situationists wanted to break down the division between artists and consumers and make cultural production a part of everyday life.”(Tate, undated) The aim of the Situationists was to close this gap and liberate the people with tools to allow their own voice to be heard.
One of the tools used by the Situationists was Détournement, the act of taking pre-existing material and altering its meaning, usually through a tongue in cheek manner. This tool was fundamentally a rebellion against the images of capitalism changing the meaning in order to comment on the ‘fake-reality’ of the images.
The first example of Détournement was Marcel Duchamp’s Mona Lisa, L.H.O.O.Q, 1919 in which he drew a moustache on a copy of the famous smile. Defacing such a cultural icon and, in a sense, changing its meaning was both radical and inspirational as it proved that the meaning of something doesn’t simply end with the original purpose and all means of image can be edited to reflect a new opinion or feeling.
This Détournement movement inspired the ‘culture jamming’ practice we see today. The following series of adverts entitled “Are you beach body ready” experience a wave of détournement for being stereotypical and shaming body type, an issue that in recent years has become the platform for both female and male empowerment- “all bodies are perfect”.
The Situationist movement gave people permission to express their views on the comments and images made by the media. Why should we be exposed to something we don’t believe in or be influenced by things we have no interest in?
What if in reality we are all Situationists. In the end we all have personal opinions and feelings, therefore, it is about taking action on what we believe in. Perhaps not in such a radical way as the Situationists but maybe we need to take a leaf out of their book and go against society and create our own interpretations of the world we live in and the images we are exposed to.