The Situationist City By Simon Sadler
From 1957 to 1972 the artistic and political movement known as the Situationist International (SI) worked aggressively to subvert the conservative ideology of the Western world. The movement’s broadside attack on “establishment” institutions and values left its mark upon the libertarian left, the counterculture, the revolutionary events of 1968, and more recent phenomena from punk to postmodernism. But over time it tended to obscure Situationism’s own founding principles. In this book, Simon Sadler investigates the artistic, architectural, and cultural theories that were once the foundations of Situationist thought, particularly as they applied to the form of the modern city. According to the Situationists, the benign professionalism of architecture and design had led to a sterilization of the world that threatened to wipe out any sense of spontaneity or playfulness. The Situationists hankered after the “pioneer spirit” of the modernist period, when new ideas, such as those of Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche, still felt fresh and vital.
By the late fifties, movements such as British and American Pop Art and French Nouveau Realisme had become interested in everyday life, space, and mass culture. The SI aimed to convert this interest into a revolution – at the level of the city itself. Their principle for the reorganization of cities was simple and seductive: let the citizens themselves decide what spaces and architecture they want to live in and how they wish to live in them. This would instantly undermine the powers of state, bureaucracy, capital, and imperialism, thereby revolutionizing people’s everyday lives. Simon Sadler searches for the Situationist City among the detritus of tracts, manifestos, and works of art that the SI left behind. The book is divided into three parts. The first, “The Naked City,” outlines the Situationist critique of the urban environment as it then existed. The second, “Formulary for a New Urbanism,” examines Situationist principles for the city and for city living. The third, “A New Babylon,” describes actual designs proposed for a Situationist City.
“It is a pleasure to see a work that situates the Situationists. Sadler has performed a necessary and welcome corrective to our understanding of this strange but endearing crew.” Adam Sweeting, “American Book Review”
Satie the Bohemian: From Cabaret to Concert Hall (Oxford Monographs on Music) By Steven Moore Whiting
Erik Satie (1866-1925) came of age in the bohemian subculture of Montmartre, with its artists’ cabarets and cafés-concerts. Yet apologists have all too often downplayed this background as potentially harmful to the reputation of a composer whom they regarded as the progenitor of modern French music. Whiting argues, on the contrary, that Satie’s two decades in and around Montmartre decisively shaped his aesthetic priorities and compositional strategies. He gives the fullest account to date of Satie’s professional activities as a popular musician, and of how he transferred the parodic techniques and musical idioms of cabaret entertainment to works for concert hall. From the esoteric Gymnopédies to the bizarre suites of the 1910s and avant-garde ballets of the 1920s (not to mention music journalism and playwriting), Satie’s output may be daunting in its sheer diversity and heterodoxy; but his radical transvaluation of received artistic values makes far better sense once placed in the fascinating context of bohemian Montmartre.
Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture By Stephen Duncombe
Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture is the first systematic study of zines-small underground publications-and the subterranean bohemia from which they come. In this book I uncover the cultural world that zine writers create, investigate motivates these cultural bohemians, and explore the frustrations they face building an underground media in a world dominated by corporate media giants. Using zines as a case study, Notes from Underground poses the question of whether it is possible to rebel culturally within our modern consumer society that eats up rebellious culture.
Harmony and Dissent: Film and Avant-Garde Art Movements in the Early Twentieth Century (Fms) (Film and Media Studies) By R. Bruce Elder
This book offers a new look at avant-garde art movements of the 1910s and 1920s. In this work, R. Bruce Elder argues that the authors of many of the manifestoes that announced in such lively ways the appearance of yet another artistic movement shared a common aspiration: they proposed to reformulate the visual, literary, and performing arts so that they might take on attributes of the cinema.
The cinema, Elder argues, became, in the early decades of the twentieth century, a pivotal artistic force around which a remarkable variety and number of aesthetic forms took shape. To demonstrate this, Elder begins with a wide-ranging discussion that opens up some broad topics concerning modernity’s cognitive (and perceptual) regime, with a view to establishing that a crisis within that regime engendered some peculiar (and highly questionable) epistemological beliefs and enthusiasms. Through this discussion, Elder advances the startling claim that a crisis of cognition precipitated by modernity engendered, by way of response, a peculiar sort of ‘pneumatic (spiritual) epistemology’. Elder then shows that early ideas of the cinema were strongly influenced by this pneumatic epistemology and uses this conception of the cinema to explain its pivotal role in shaping two key moments in early-twentieth-century art: the quest to bring forth a pure, “objectless” (non-representational) art and Russian Suprematism, Constructivism, and Productivism.
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