Are we the “image”, “spectacle”, and “cinematic”?

From Debord’s text, a spectacle is our society that we live in today. We are inundated with constant imagery that has been manufactured or a source of creative reproduction. There is a separation between reality and replication; genuine and imitation. When I think of spectacle I have a perception of something or someone becoming transformed into media news. A spectacle is a manifestation of entertainment in our society, but as Debord infers we cannot truly see it because it is us and we are surrounded by it. “It is the heart of the unrealism of the real society” Debord states (140). The spectable that we are familiar with today through media is created, yet we see it as real. I found it particularly interesting when Guy Debord asserts that the spectacle is fashioned in order “to make one see the world by means of various specialized mediations…” (142). I wonder if we are so unaware of the spectacle that we can never truly return to a sense of reality.  If Debord is correct, then this is our reality since we created it and it would be difficult if not impossible alleviate the spectacles that surround us.

According to Sontag, the creation of a photograph is more than just an image; it holds a sense of capturing a moment in which no other medium alike can. Sontag argues that painting is more or a representation and does not retain the interests of some if given the choice to choose between. Is painting a medium that can no longer continue to progress? My roommate is in the MFA program at and just went through final critiques. She mentioned to me that one student was given especially tough and callous feedback from not only the instructors, but the students as well. It was mentioned that everything that could have been done with painting has already been done. I found this especially interesting and fascinating. Is the image, as Sontag suggests more captivating due to the originality of the moment (155)? I do agree with Susan that photography is more consumer -friendly. Photography and the replication of images allows for constant mass distribution and sharing of places, events, etc. When discussing Proust, Sontag states that the relation to photography is not only “extensive and accurate” , but “texture and essence” (164).With the mass distribution of images, I cannot help but think about the nostalgia that may become lost. With the internet, images can easily become other’s property, altered, and then reproduced again. I assume that we can alleviate unwanted distribution through our own personal choice of not sharing, but that is not our culture today.

Cinema, as discussed by Virilio also touches on the replication of reality in order for viewers to feel the experience. This is evident in the precise coordination of movements and actions during scenes. Cinema seems to encapsulate the “image”, “spectacle” and “cinematic”. The abilities to use this technology within combat were a great advancement, but also seen as evidence of the cinematic due to the advances in capturing film. Virilio creates a link between the advances of military technology to the visual representations in war films. There was a use to create an image of what war was like and help deliver a form of propaganda to those back home. With our current war, images, videos, and stories have been distributed to us through the media.

The arguments that are presented by this week’s authors are reminiscent of the discussion that we had in class during the Benjamin and Baurdillard. They share similar observations with regard to our perception and altered perception of images in that the reality that we live in is impacted by the visual representations that we are surrounded by. The “image”, spectacle”, and “cinematic” are property of our culture. As we verge into and explore the use of our technology, we are testing the limits and capacities of what we can do. All three elements are the result of the progression of our media.

Happy Holidays!

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4 Responses to “Are we the “image”, “spectacle”, and “cinematic”?”

  1. “I wonder if we are so unaware of the spectacle that we can never truly return to a sense of reality. If Debord is correct, then this is our reality since we created it and it would be difficult if not impossible alleviate the spectacles that surround us. ”

    Great point. I think individuals and groups become dependent on the spectacle or idea of spectacle to help derive meaning from their experience. I think this is just a natural effect of a mass media on the populace. It is also the reason many creative people are interested in exploring meaning through intentionally non-spectacular. Something I found inspiring recently was from filmmaker Jonas Mekas:

    “In the times of bigness, spectaculars, one hundred million movie productions, I want to speak for the small, invisible acts of human spirit, so subtle, so small, that they die when brought out under the clean lights. I want to celebrate the small forms of cinema, the lyrical form, the poem, the watercolor, etude, sketch, portrait, arabesque, and bagatelle, and little 8mm songs. In the times when everybody wants to succeed and sell, I want to celebrate those who embrace social and daily tailor to pursue the invisible, the personal things that bring no money and no bread and make no contemporary history, art history or any other history. I am for art which we do for each other, as friends.”

    http://invisiblecinema.typepad.com/invisible_cinema/2006/08/guest_blogger_j.html

  2. christinatx Says:

    I just noticed that when I post a comment the time stamp is incorrect. I wonder if this applies to the other postings as well?

  3. Well, Photography is indeed more than just an image; it holds a sense of capturing a moment in which no other medium alike can (Sontag). As I mentioned in my blog that the essence of photography and painting is very different, yet they both are forms of art and have cultural values. Photographs are that piece of art, through which one can explore and see the world around us. It is an imagination of the photographer that he/she tries to capture using the camera as a tool. Also as technology increases the use of photographs as images will increase. Will they affect the culture we have built around us? I guess the question remains unanswered.

  4. “Is the image, as Sontag suggests more captivating due to the originality of the moment (155)?”

    I found your example of your roommate’s peer of particular interest and relevance to this week’s readings. I chose to focus more on the idea of the spectacle in my post and did not go very in depth about the image and the Sontag reading. She explores the medium of photography in comparison to other media and addresses the image (photograph) as representation. Painting, an art form once used also to represent real life, changed drastically with the introduction of photography. It became a much more symbolic and abstract art form because it could not compete with the realism of photographs. I find your example interesting because since painting branched out from realism, I have always seen it as a more versatile medium than photography. However, I guess now photo editing software expands the medium of photography into new and quite interesting realm. I think that putting a damper on any art form by saying everything has been done is pretty absurd.

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