Space After Spectacle

Spencer, D. 2017. Space After Spectacle. Architecture, Phantasmagoria and the Culture of Contemporary Capitalism. Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA 31 - 31 Mar 2017

TitleSpace After Spectacle
AuthorsSpencer, D.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Andreotti and Lahiji’s The Architecture of Phantasmagoria presents an incisive critique of the discourse of spectacle in architecture. ‘Spectacle’, they note, has become the ‘tired mantra’ of a supposedly critical posture lazily reiterating its complaints against architecture as image and missing the critical thrust of Debord’s writing. Without wanting to abandon what remains for them still pertinent in Debord’s thought they suggest, in response, ‘phantasmagoria’ as a model more adequate to grasping the machinations of contemporary architecture as an apparatus of power and subjectivation than that of spectacle.
This paper builds upon and extends Andreotti and Lahiji’s critique. The discourse of spectacle, I will argue, rests upon the assumption of a cinematic mode of reception in which subjects are distracted from everyday realities under the spell-like influence of star architects and their iconic productions. This mode of reception is, though, exceptional rather than typical. As such, it is itself a distraction from the more everyday experience of the built environment and the analysis of its subjectifying powers. This subjectifying power, I will argue, operates through forms of attention that are very much divided rather than undivided; the fleeting glance rather than the focused gaze, the habitual as opposed to the extraordinary.
In order to explore these more habitual and habituating forms of attention – exemplified here in the spaces of contemporary transit and their soberly dressed interiors – I draw methodologically upon Benjamin and Kracauer’s concern with the everyday experience of the city as a ubiquitous environmental condition and, reaching further back still, to Simmel’s account of the metropolis as, in its economic and experiential essence, a ‘sphere of indifference’.

KeywordsArchitecture, Spectacle, Situationism, Marxism, Critical Theory
Year2017
ConferenceArchitecture, Phantasmagoria and the Culture of Contemporary Capitalism
Web address (URL) of conference proceedingshttps://smartech.gatech.edu/handle/1853/58087
Web address (URL)https://arch.gatech.edu/architecture-phantasmagoria-and-culture-contemporary-capitalism-symposium

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