Amongst the “avant garde” revolutionary intellectuals, the situationists are one of a kind. Though they are few, they often are waging battles under the leadership of a young Guy Débord, to surpass and make obsolete other contemporary movements such as Letterism and Surrealism.
Quoting Carlos Granés about situationists: “in a society that annihilates adventure, the only adventure is to annihilate society”. With such an overwhelming enterprise in mind, it is not surprising that this avant-garde group quickly suffered from their own contradictions, for their fondness of purges and procrastination rather than practical action. However, their intellectual footprint in the arts, politics and urbanism has filtered through to our times, through movements like the Spanish 15M or America’s “Occupy”.
The following is a selection of situationists’ texts over time. Although most of them are excerpts from “Magazine of the International Situationist” (from the extensive compilation found at “The Situationist International on-line”), their main publication while the group was active, we have added other texts that complement or update the vision of Débord and his comrades over the 3 topics more relevant to city making, and thus to OpenYourCity readers: arts, urbanism and automation.
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This week, I travelled to the Barcelona Real Estate Exhibition to take part in a session on the current status of innovation districts; the laudable urban concept which originated in the late 90s. My presentation was to take place on Friday 18th of October, the day of the General Strike. A wise friend of mine from Barcelona therefore recommended I take abundant reading matter for the trip, in case of long delays on trains and in stations. I was headed to the Catalan capital – a flagship of urban innovation – to share ideas on innovation districts, such a clear example of global knowledge flows. As my travelling companion, then, I chose Professor Manuel Castells’s “Space of Flows” (the latest volume of his key work “The Network Society”).