The Situationist City

The book comes out straight as an anti-modernist paradigm of city, including critic on Bauhaus School of thought. The author argues that Modernist functionalism was collective unconscious or solidification of desire in a most violent and cruel automatism, which emerged as an international style, became the paradigm of successive schools of architecture and planning paradigm across the globe. The Bauhaus is not an artistic inspiration but rather well defined doctrine without inspiration and Bauhaus had expressionist tendencies and rationalism had only been passing outcome. Modernity is about circulation of things and of human being trapped in a world of things

The situationist position lies within the negotiation between the individual and social, i:e collective. Situationist interest is in mass culture was exemplified in a neo-dadaist sentimentality about everyday objects, a fascination with advertisement and magazines, a desire to intervene in fashion, a recognition of popular music as valid culture, and attentiveness to unplanned spaces, buildings without architects. Situationist international manifesto aimed to convert avant-garde interest in everyday space and mass culture into a revolution.

It further argued that the Introduction to technology (Totalitarian Modernist Tendency) into everyday life, ultimately taking place within the framework of “Modern Bureaucratized Capitalism (modern capitalism organization of life)”, tend to reduce the people’s independence and creativity. The people are reduced to pure triviality of the repetitive spectacle. The urbanism and information are complementary in both capital and anti-capitalist societies, they organize silence. The manufactured spectacle hides the real process of exploitation. Rationalism hid the consumer demand behind bogus neoplatonic aesthetic of form following function of modernity.

The situationist believed in the possibility of culture sphere outside the spectacle of capital, politics and imperialism. Situationist mythologized the poor as fellow on urban margins, treating ghetto as an urban asset rather than urban ill. It propagated Psycho-geographic mapping as against cartographic mappin of city with Language, narrative and cognition. The self cannot be divorced from urban environment while at the same time pertaining to more than just psyche of an individual. Pschogeographic mapping is about spontaneity, chance and body, mapping of populist activity for everyday space rather than spectacle, pompous, high culture experiences of the city. The situationist composition entailed social composition, supporting concentrated artisan, students what author calls a unities of ambience. Psychogeography offered a sense of violent emotive possession over the street. The situationsit destined for fetishistic and militaristic approaches to urban exploration and new means of representing space.

The situationist cartography admitted that its overview of the city was reconstructed in the imagination, piercing together an experience of space that was actually terrestrial, fragmented, subjective, temporal and cultural.

The arguments expand into the various areas and forms of representation of city through chance events, “The naked city”, emphasized the incompatibility of Cartesian logic with real experience of the city. The drift (Pschogeographic map analysis) carefully noted the variation in degrees of urban bustle as it attracted and repelled the drifters through the city. The psychogeography of urban drift (socio-psychological relation) produces social geography (social body) of the city (excavating the network of anti-spectacular space within the city)

The drifters were aligned with cheap eatery, ghettos, which offered “ambient other” non-bourgeois living. (drift is unconventional sociable activity). The urbanism that suppresses incidents and places contradicts the authority like Haussmann idea of boulevard in Paris. Situationist became alert to the possibilities of drifting into the “hidden city” It is ensure the social and psychological conditions for the construction of situations.

The situationist called for a “Unitary urbanism” which is a social project and art project. It would project urban future that would recover the lost, mythic wholeness that has been shattered by capital and bureaucracy. The book has valuable account of non-spectacular aspects of city and the spirit of situationism demanded that personal creative ambition and vision be subsumed to group will.

This book sets an important theoretical position within the sociological and psychological domain of urban and very engrossing reading for an individual whose interest lies in unaccounted aspects and experience of urban life.

Image Credit for Naked City Diagram:

Image Credit for Photo: Manoj Parmar Architects

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