The Bottom line on planet one: squaring up to The Face.    by Dick Hebidge

Alan Hughes was a member of the photography magazine Ten.8 ’s editorial board. In an exchange with a group of Dick Hebidge’s visual communications students, one student criticised Ten.8 compared to The Face  magazine,  citing its left-wing politics, poor design, and its lack of interest (Hebidge, 1999: 99) . The author suggests that The Face  represented a urtext or epitomy of good design, and compares this to Northrop Frye’s view of the Bible as the gold standard for Western artistic thought (Hebidge, 1999: 99-100).

The author- a teacher- suggests that Ten.8 is viewed by the students as too dull, too wordy, too preachy, and just not ‘worth the effort (or the cover price)’ to read, for what they imagine they will get out of the text (Hebidge, 1999:100). Indeed The Face  has larger sales figures (52,000-90,000 cf. Ten.8 1,500-2,500), and regularly wins applause and awards for the standard of its design.

Hebidge ponders the question of whether the great difference in attitude of these students to the separate magazines could be attributed to any one factor. Had it to do with style or content (or both-or neither), attributes of the readership, style, advertising, financing, marketing or editorial policy?   More specifically he wonders whether it was due to Ten.8’s links to education, knowledge, and  a non-profit ethos, versus The Face ’s links to their polar opposites (Hebidge, 1999:100).  As regards attitudes to profit-making, the author admits that it is an unlikely factor, as both magazines are relatively small and independent (Hebidge, 1999: 102). As for the style and content- they offer style, image and fashion (The Face ), and the theory, politics, history and practice of photography (Ten.8), which the author believes does not lie at the heart of the difference.

Hebidge provides a possible explanation via an anology of two separate worlds, where the power relationship between images and text is different, and where in one the subordination of images to words has been reversed, and allows images to dominate. This second world is

‘larger…first and foremost pictured… (where images) have their own power and effects…looking takes precedence over seeing (‘sensing’ over ‘knowing’)…..’

(Hebidge, 1999: 105)

This world, corresponding to The Face , uses words, not to inexhaustibly explain the images, but to ‘put the image in play’ (Hebidge, 1999: 105). The author seems to suggest that this world is far more mysterious, nuanced, unpredictable, powerful and interesting than the lily-livered way pictures are used to meekly and merely accompany the predictability and didactism of text in the first planet’s Ten.8. My personal reaction to this is that this is all very well, but most of the articles in the reader, including this one by Hebidge, is severely text-driven, and quite explicit. On the other hand, these articles are for a different audience- of students and academics, not style consumers.

Continuing with the separate worlds analogy, the author suggests further that in the second world, the relationships between the contributors is less vertical, less proscribed and traditional, and the contributors themselves are more varied (including flaneurs and dandies).  Here the image is King, and the image is NOW, and there is no history, politics, or back-story. In this way the vertical dimension of history has been flattened, and there is only the horizontal dimension of the images and text that is presented each week (Hebidge, 1999: 105). By this stage the reader has a pretty good idea that The Face  seems a more interesting and innovative magazine than Ten.8.

The author quotes Jean Luc Godard in order to introduce several ideas common to both Goddard’s  words and The Face .

This is not a just image. This is just an image.

(Goddard quoted in Hebidge, 1999: 105)

Similarly The Face  is not a just magazine (for example ‘…it renounces…the moralist’s mission to expose and combat social ills’ (Hebidge, 1999:106)), it is just a magazine (to hijack Godard’s words). And the magazine is out to upset most prevailing orthodoxies of the relationship ‘between cultural politics, the image, and the ‘popular’ (Hebidge, 1999:106).  For example, it bizarrely juxtaposes fragments of such topics as clothes design, contemporary architecture, the thoughts of leading intellectuals, and electron microscope pictures of the AID’s virus (playfully titled ‘The sex object of the decade’).  It is a magazine which ‘goes out of its way to blur the line between politics and parody, and pastiche….’ (Hebidge, 1999:106). In the world of The Face, the author implies that we lose our conventional bearings, and thus are happy to be alive for the sake of life, and nothing else (Hebidge, 1999:107).

In an exhibition in the Photographer’s Gallery near Leicester Square, a room was converted into a ‘walk-in magazine’ (Hebidge, 1999: 107), and the room contained sections which exactly matched The Face. Reading the magazine is compared to someone physically walking through this exhibition, and to Walter Benjamin’s ‘urban consumer’…’ consuming looks, objects, ideas and values’ (Hebidge, 1999: 107). The consumer can interpret and use any information in whatever way they choose- unshackled by conventions.

Similarly, Roland Barthes introduced the idea of ‘cruising’ a text (it seems to me, perhaps on the wet and muddy coat-tails of Walter Benjamin’s flâneur, who cruises the arcades of Paris?) as a method of reducing the reader’s dependence on imbibing the absolute meanings, the signifieds, contained within the text.  The author believes that this type of approach is engendered by The Face; readers are using-in any way they wish (or simply enjoying)- the information (or disinformation for that matter); and this is the fundamental difference between The Face  and its planet one relative Ten.8 (Hebidge, 1999: 108).

Expanding the argument to first and second world thinking generally, the author likens the second- world approach to that taken by post-structuralists and post-modernists to the image- ridding the signifier of its signified, whilst first-world thinkers like John Berger seek to extract all the meaning out of images (Hebidge, 1999: 108). This dialectic between the object as signifier-signified and  the object as just the object is explored by Pierre Bourdieu in his essay on the social definition of photography (Bourdieu, 1999). The planet 2 ‘posties’ seek to undermine what the author calls dominant Platonic meaning (ie. what is represented) and a world of images which may be good and bad, legitimate and illegitimate, or an anti-Godard world where images can be just and unjust. They seek to replace it with a meaning based on differences alone (Hebidge, 1999:109).

More expansively, the first world meaning is part of a long existing hierarchy and power system which can be seen in elements such as the Word, the Enlightenment, and European Rationalism, the Party and that it is oppressive, and may include political thinking (Hebidge, 1999:109). Is this the word of the Lord or more generally text referred to by the author here? This section usefully lists the pervading ideological dogmas of the Western, Modern, Civilised world and hints that there are and were other possible journeys. It might also entail bourgoise ‘truth-speaking’, or ‘representing the oppressed’.  The second world also includes anarchists and mystics (Hebidge, 1999:109).

It may seem somewhat impractical to live in a world which is completely without structures such as politics and law (the author calls these sorts of inhabitants an ‘impossible class’, a term originally coined by Nietzche, and appropriated by several anarchist groups).  However I can think of examples of  these pervading systems which can  appear laughable and appalling, such as the sort of bourgoise truth-speaking from the likes of Millionaire celebrity capitalists such as the Rock star Bono.

It would be an interesting exercise to analyse how these sorts of manifestations could be analysed in traditional planet-1 terms, and how they might be replaced by a more unusual but satisfying planet-2 alternative.

The second world doesn’t need to be as severe as an anarchist breakdown of society though, and the ‘assault on representation’ can be limited to a textual and image world of ‘radically empty signifiers’   (Hebidge, 1999:109). Shades, variations and nuances are all possible within the planet.  For example Jean Baudrillard is a current second-world thinker, espousing the belief that ‘…appearances can no longer be used to mask, conceal, distort or falsify reality’ , and that ‘… reality is nothing more than the never knowable sum of all appearances’ (Hebidge, 1999: 105).

These concepts inevitably prompt the reader to question his own views about what reality is. Is it simply what is visible, audible, only that which we can sense? Also is the past a reality? or the future ? How does this pared-down Baudrillardian view of the real relate to the Eastern, Buddhist, and spiritual ideas such as ‘thinking in the moment’, and for that matter modern medicine’s idea of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, where the triad of thought, feeling, behaviour is used as a model for both normal and abnormal living? One of my many favourite quotes from Mark twain is that I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.’ (Quotations page, 1994-2007).

Baudrillard believes that reality ‘flickers’, and that we can’t  interpret reality on the basis of our experiences, nor can we ‘speculate dispassionately on the meaning of it all.’ (Hebidge, 1999:109). Nor does the I exist. ie. ourselves. We are just what exists at that point, ‘The subject simply ceases’(Hebidge, 1999: 110). This Baudrillardian planet 2 life is suggested by the author to be like a person receiving inputs and playing out their life – like video tape heads receive information on magnetic tape and translate it into a screen picture- ‘…all human life can pass across the heads, but we never own or store or ‘’know’ or ‘see’ the material that we process.’ With the death of the subject the word ‘by’ becomes meaningless-  we have no power to intervene (Hebidge, 1999: 110).

I do not think that the death of the subject and this powerlessness logically follows, even from the analogy with a VCR player. It is I guess a concept which has been exaggerated to the extreme, for it’s  striking effect. I am happy to admit that in some senses (and this is key, as reality contains a large number of different separate ingredients) that the past and future don’t really exist (but they do as memories, or as hopes and fears…..), but even in the VCR world, even if we are simply interpreting stimuli, then for as long as we have a body, we are able to influence our environment, and our experience.

Is the age of the extinction of signifieds just sophistry? The author cites further abstractions such as the move away from the manufacturing model of economy towards one dominated by media, computers and global conglomerates (Hebidge, 1999: 110). We now have programmed obsoletism (of goods), and manufacture without human involvement, and the most important products are images and information-which have no physical substance, and these characteristics of modern society are breaking down Marx’s capitalist model…..into the model termed hypercapitalism by Jean Francoise Lyotard (Hebidge, 1999: 110).

This sort of societal model is pertinent to my dissatisfaction with our current society. It’s one that measures Quality of Life by measures like the GDP or whatever technological innovations happen to be on the scene- an evolution of science, and medicine, and engineering which is praised as our new GOD. But this evolution has no need of more simple social improvements such as equality. The answers to these profound social issues do not evolve in the same way. Indeed evolution of man or technologies is survival of the fittest and involves power over weakness and the eventual death of the weak. We have to value a different model for ensuring social justice and equality, which may move against our animal instincts, and where decisions are made not incrementally like science, but in major life changing leaps- such as the abolition of slavery, and the enfranchisement of  groups who were previously voiceless.  From an economic point of view, the increasingly abstracted economy came to a gut wrenching crash once again in 2008, caused by both greedy selling of  mortgage ‘debt’ to the poor  to buy houses, and more generally in the global necessity to trade in non-existent things,  such as stocks and shares and derivatives.

According to some ‘posties’, in this hypercapitalist world the signifier has won out, the playing field is levelled, and everyone has access to the means of reproduction, not production (Hebidge, 1999: 111). In the sphere of knowledge and education the model of the university, and intellectual and cultural value of subjects like social sciences will reduce. These will be replaced with linguistics (to break down communications barriers?) and cybernetics (to manufacture and reproduce things). Communications technology expands and national boundaries and culture are levelled…..everything changes……production ,consumption, subjectivity, knowledge , art….(Hebidge, 1999: 111).

There are lots of structures breaking down here, and I found it difficult to follow the argument here. For example was all this collapse due solely to the loss of the signified?  Or was it due to the ‘intellectual’  ideas of Planet 2 in general, which are varied, and where too there may be  some disagreement (between planet 2 posties), and some nuances, and some disclarity…

One specific problem I had with this part of the text was that it hinted at possible bipartisan approach by the posties (eg. disagreements exist) about what planet 2 is like, but I did not clearly understand who espoused what. Additionally, I can agree that the post Marxist hypercapitalist world seems to  reduces differences (between countries and classes, and hierarchies) and increases the abstract nature of economics, and that therefore the signified is weakened (if not killed off). However ‘the triumph of the signifier’ (Hebidge, 1999: 111), seemed to suggest a dominance and increase in its prevalence during  hypercapitalism. My difficulty here is that if this triumph has actually killed off the signifier I agree. If it remains and is even stronger, in a world where abstraction seems to be rife, then this seems paradoxical – but perhaps paradoxical is also allowed in planet 2!

Continuing to describe the planet 2 world, the author suggests everywhere becomes the same and that this is the world suited to The Face  (Hebidge, 1999: 112).

The author now cites a Levi jeans commercial (the main character has a copy of The Face in his suitcase) – where the playing out of the dialectic (?) between East/West, Age/youth, Chains/Freedom etc. is going on, and sums up the hypercapitalist society (Hebidge, 1999: 112) the society of  ‘…commodity consumption, personal identity, and desire…’ (Hebidge, 1999: 113).

I became a little confused here, as the very polarised world of the advert appears to be more simply capitalist to me…us v them and the power of consumer goods- not the sort of hypercapitalist breakdown of these polarised structures. The author says that this advert’s story is not just a ‘bourgoise myth’ but has some reality ie. that The Face and Levis are worth a lot of money in the Russian black market, and they are more like a dream of freedom for the subjugated and trapped Eastern citizens (Hebidge, 1999: 113). For me, is this any different to the bourgoise myth of working classes desiring consumer objects to free them from their life?  (ie the typical Marxist / Barthes myth of consumerism). There seems no real difference.

The author compares the second world to the First-world thinker John Berger who in his ‘Ways of Seeing’ TV series moves between a picture of starving refugees, onto an advert for bath salts, whilst reading the Sunday Times. He calls the culture that is responsible for this epistemological gap ‘ (Hebidge, 1999: 113).

In the flat (second world) arguments can be built but with difficulty because it is easy for slippage to occur. In The Face ’… irony and  ambiguity dominate…’  and hyperbole (Hebidge, 1999: 114). When the author opens  a copy of the Magazine at the exhibition, he sees a SWATCH supplement, faithfully parodying the style of The Face  (Hebidge, 1999: 115). These rhetorical devices are used to reduce the feeling that meanings contained within its pages are dogmatic/didactic opinion. Similarly they frequently use new terms (‘Butcheoise’, Doleocracy..) avoiding terms which might be laden with old and traditional meanings (Hebidge, 1999: 114). Photographers, writers, and ‘subjects’ are anonymous (really?always?), which protects them from being categorised and remembered (Hebidge, 1999: 115).

The typefaces used within the magazine are sometimes barely decipherable (Hebidge, 1999: 117). This too is taken by the author as an example of planet-2-ness. Its more iconic, more Eastern Japanese script (a non-phonetic alphabet). The author describes The Face as using ‘the semiogram; a self-enclosed semantic unit- a word, graphic image, photograph……which cannot be referred (or signify? ) to anything outside itself’ (Hebidge, 1999: 119).

The author and his generation tend to remember a particular idea of ‘the popular’ around the inter-war and post-war years, exemplified by The Picture Post (Hebidge, 1999: 120). These ideas are well  known to consist of equality, fairness, justice etc (think of the  post-WW2 political concensus around medical and social provision for all (NHS and national insurance) and protection (via nationalisation and NATO).

This sort of national view and the symbols it was used to, broke down with the maintained affluence of the post-war period, and a break from concensus towards conviction politicians such as Margaret Thatcher. Another break from the past has been an increasing educational level available to the masses, and feminism, which has put the rights and issues of women at the heart of society   (Hebidge, 1999: 120). This is the transformed political landscape that Hebidge sees The Face as serving.

In the final coda of the essay Hebidge surprised me a little. After a lengthy difficult exploration of the concepts and context of planet-2, and its relevance to the style of The Face  magazine, he comes down to earth quickly, by stating that The Face  is not a complete reflection of planet-2, or Baudrillard,  and he commends it for its popularity, significance, influence, and (sometimes) excellent journalism (Hebidge, 1999:121). He also addresses my previous point by suggesting that the depth of his analysis regarding this popular magazine might be viewed as somewhat comical by some.

The most surprising to me were his final thoughts. In fact one last battle between planet 1 and planet 2 had yet to be described, and planet 2 was not (as I had come to believe during the essay) necessarily going to win. This became important as he left the The Face  exhibition, and heard a Chrissie Hynde song playing in a loop (Hebidge, 1999:121). The author’s revelation was that when all is said and done our simple humanity makes us believe in words (such as pain, love, faith), and their associated symbols, signifieds, and  time frames (not just the present, but the past and the future); all those planet 1 attributes which common sense and humanity had made it difficult for me to accept were not important (at least in planet 2).  And he would go on reminding himself  ‘….that this earth is round not flat, that there will never be an end to judgement….’ (Hebidge, 1999:121). And with that I happily breathed a sigh of relief and the thoughts of planet 2 began to  disperse and dissolve a little from my brain, at least for now.


Bourdieu, P (1999) ‘The social definition of photography’ in  visual culture: a reader. Evans, J and Hall, S (eds.). London. SAGE Publications.      p.162-180

Hebidge, D (1999) ‘The bottom line on planet one: squaring up to the face’ in  visual culture: a reader. Evans, J and Hall, S (eds.). London. SAGE Publications.      p. 99-124

Quotations Page (1994-2007) Mark Twain  online at   (accessed on 16th April 2017)





Separation perfected- Guy Debor

This text has been edited from the original. What remains resembles a restatement of various Marxist ideas about the state, and its base and superstructure. I will therefore choose to  summarise the text bringing out these similarities.

The titular ‘separation’ seems to be far-reaching, and could be summed us as that between the real and the represented way of life. This may include but is not limited to the separation of: working and ruling classes, images and ideologies, and the  good and the bad.

The initial quotation from Feuerbach suggests that the piece relates to the overwhelming occurrence of signs, symbols and illusions in society, and that they are now more sacred than  simple truths (Debord, 1999: 95).  The author first states that in societies which are characterised by modern production (a thoroughly Marxist approach to society) life is presented through spectacles, rather than more representational methods. Reality consists of a visual representation through images, which make up a pseudo-world, which ironically are more characteristic of the non-living, such as mechanical and inanimate objects. This paragraph reads like a Marxist interpretation of the media where images may act directly upon society to interpellate an ideology, and perhaps a false consciousness, and that individuals in society are not free to choose how to live, but have become subjects of the ruling classes (Althusser, 1993). The author states that ‘this spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.’ (Debord 1999:95). Restated, the author believes that society is not what it seems on the surface, but is corresponding to a Marxist society, where all its social relations are affected (not exclusively) by visual images .

This spectacle is described as a Weltanschauung (world view (Free dictionary)), resulting from the ability to share images globally (Debord, 1999: 96). Debord believes that this state of affairs is so pervasive that it is the essence of society, not an added extra, and lists several manifestations of it’s presence; information, propaganda, advertisement, entertainment. The power of these to control and mould society, in a unidirectional way flowing from the ruling classes to the working classes, is shown by the author’s use of language in this paragraph. The language alludes to a classical Marxist view of society.  ‘It [the spectacle]is the omnipresent affirmation of the choice already made (DeBord’s italics) in production and its corollary consumption’(Debord, 1999: 96).

In extract 8 the author discusses a theme previously approached by Althusser, suggesting that it’s not actually possible to separate the disseminated images (here we may  if we desire, substitute Althusser’s Interpellated State Apparatus and its ideology) from reality- because although the ideology is not real (Althusser says ) ‘like a paving stone’ , it is experienced through material things (Althusser,1999: 318).

The spectacle is described as appearing positive, and indisputable- though inaccessible (DeBord, 1999: 96). This corresponds to Althusser’s  ‘false consciousness’ . However, whereas DeBord believes that the ideology is accepted passively because it is monologous and ubiquitous, Althusser’s classic position is that the subject has some freedom to accept the ideology being pedalled (Althusser,1999: 318).   In fact Debord goes as far as to say that the spectacle of the image world which constitutes the ideology, can be thought of as the main production of society (Debord,1999: 96), and later that ‘The spectacle is capital….’ (Debord,1999: 97). This definitely leaves us without doubt that he believes the magnitude of the effect is great, but rather mixes his metaphors within the context of a Marxist analysis.

The spectacle ‘subjugates living men’ (Debord,1999: 97) in as much as the economy does. This states the classical (economist) Marxist view that the economy is the base of society, and effects all other aspects of it (these constitute the superstructure) – including the media, and man’s behaviours and social relations. The author believes that vision is the most important sense by which society is affected by the economic base, in a mystical and hypnotic (ie. not completely grasped) way- unlike in former times when touch was probably dominant (Debord,1999: 97).  Images, which are so powerful and mystical a force here, are known to be ‘felt to be weak in respect of meaning:…..’ when compared to text as language (Barthes, 1999: 33). In fact they are so weak and have such a potential for layers of coding, that text is often added to them in the form of either anchorage or relay in order to facilitate their identification and interpretation (Barthes, 1999: 38). However, this weakness- of- meaning makes images eminently suitable for the hidden communication of ideologies, from the powerful ruling classes to subjugate the working class. This is described as the ‘opposite of dialogue’(Debord,1999: 97)  reinforcing the unanswerable power which ideology constitutes. Debord shows his underlying disdain for image-based ideology by saying it reflects the weakness of western civilization and thought, which is based mainly on images. He uses a simultaneous example of two rhetorical devices here producing a double-whammy linguistic reinforcing effect (these techniques are further illustrated in Victor Burgin’s essay ‘Art common sense and photography’ (1999: 47)):

The spectacle does not realize philosophy, it philosophizes reality

(Debord,1999: 97)

This is certainly an example of chiasmus (using two words the opposite way round in one sentence) and I think it is also a subtle antanaclasis. Antanaclasis refers to repeated usage of a word with different meanings.   The effect here relies on the shaded meanings possible for the word philosophy. In the first clause philosophy is used to communicate the sense of  ‘the ideas of a society’ , a straightforward interpretation where one’s ideas are used to build a reality for ones’ self. However, the author  uses the term with a more flexible, political, and Marxist inflection in the second clause, where  the word philosophizing has taken on an extra function- it now carries a suggestion of Marxist ideologizing with all its added ramifications  on the power relationships within societies.

In the second paragraph of section 19, the author compares and contrasts the all-consuming image- world of his time with religion, both described in terms of ideology. He believes that they are essentially both spectacles carried out by humans, and that they co-exist. However, whilst religion uses illusions which detach from man (clouds, and projection into the sky- perhaps a reference to heaven, or the ill-fated Tower of Bable?), the image-world uses illusions which are firmly based within man and his society (Debord,1999: 97). He seems to consider both to be illusions based on very unstable foundations.

In extract 24, a complex paragraph,  the author refers explicitly to the Marxist idea of ‘relations among men and classes’ (Debord,1999: 97) which are represented by ‘spectacular relations’. The spectacle itself is not the product of technical evolution (Debord uses the term ‘natural development’), but is instead the product of an evolution driven by the controlling forces of the state and it’s administration. In other words, the form of the spectacle is chosen (or evolved) by the state to be just that form which is best able to totally control the working class,  in this case visual media which are essentially unilateral, and whose message cannot be returned, and is non-negotiable (Debord,1999: 98).

BLOG Questions

Weltanschauung- a comprehensive philosophy or world view?

It is a little difficult to answer the question based solely on my reading of the given text, as the term is  new to me, and being mentioned just once in the text remains a little unfamiliar to me. Based on its literal translation the term means ‘Worldview’ in German. However, based on my belief that this term is used to describe one of the main state apparatuses used to subjugate the working-classes (images  and the mass media)  I would say that it is more of a philosophy and subsumes a whole collection of associated ideas and relationships (at least in as much as Marxism is a philosophy which does the same).

What do you think Debord means by ‘the spectacle’ ?   

Throughout the text  ‘the spectacle’ is referred to in rather abstract terms. In one rather clearer citation it seems to be described as having the forms of  ‘….information, or propaganda, as advertisement or direct entertainment consumption’(Debord,1999: 98). These take on visual shape in ‘the spectacle’.

The book was first published in French in 1967. Has the passage of time confirmed or contradicted Debord’s view?

The sources of visual media in 1967 would have consisted of advertising, television, books and newspapers. Of these television and advertising (in newspapers, television or billboards) would be most likely to carry the coded messages which Debord refers to. Political messages from books would be less common, and more honestly transmitted.  In 2017 television remains popular, and probably has more channels, all still full of adverts. Newspapers (and perhaps books) are in the process of being replaced by ‘online’ alternatives whose power is roughly equivalent to the paper versions.

The massive change is the advent of computer world, and the birth of the internet in society around 1997. This has massively increased the global power of visual communications. The average person spends several hours a day on visual on-line gadgets, and many programmes and activities are laden with troublesome, hard to avoid, advertisements. Moreover, sophisticated programmes track your history, and algorithms tailor advertisements directly to the individual consumer, increasing their power to influence.

Whilst this sort of internet use increases the subjugation of the working classes, it must be said that their ability to communicate with each other globally (facebook, e mail, flickr etc..) and form political groups and associations, and their ability to find out about any conceivable topic for themselves through search engines (if executed in a rigorous and careful way),  has to be politically empowering. Think for example of the way that recent revolutions in Africa and the Middle east have been facilitated by the transmission of pictures via mobile phone, both to other downtrodden citizens, and to the more priveliged first world occupants (Mirzoeff, 2013: xxxiv). Mirzoeff specifically discusses the 2011 revolution in Egypt where ‘Facebook [was] used to set the date, Twitter was used to share logistics, YouTube to show the world, all to connect people’ (Mirzoeff, 2013:xxxiv).

Does his view that we ‘‘see the world by means of various specialized mediations’’ mean that we are having our view of the world controlled or that we simply don’t know what is propaganda and what is not?

My feeling is that the author makes clear throughout the text that we are being deliberately controlled. His language about the spectacle is Marxist and often perjorative and dismissive. So for example the spectacle is ‘the choice already made in production and it’s corollary consumption’, it demands ‘..passive acceptance’ , and it ‘subjugates living men to itself …’ (Debord,1999: 96-97)

Reification is the process of viewing the abstract as real (have a look at what Marx had to say on the subject); is the spectacle viewing the real as abstract or an extreme reification?

Marx considered that the commodity was a realization of the summed worker contribution and social relationships invested in in it. He called this idea reification. In the rhetorical quote discussed above, although using wordplay, Debord states that ultimately he thinks the spectacle is an explanation of reality-not a reality itself. In Marx’s sense of the term, reification of media images would suggest that they are the real manifestation of thoughts and political behaviour by the state, but as the state is ‘the other team’  to Marx’s ‘workers’ I will refrain from choosing to reify them here. Of course all these decisions are somewhat arbitrary; reality may have several layers, as discussed previously with reference to Althusser’s view on the reality of ideology (Althusser,1999: 318).


Althusser, L (1993). ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’. In visual culture: A reader. Evans, J and Hall,,S (eds), London. SAGE Publications.   p317-324

Barthes, R (1993).  ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ in visual culture: a reader. Evans, J and Hall, S (eds.). London. SAGE Publications.   P33-41

Debord, G (1993). ‘Separation perfected’. In visual culture: A reader. Evans, J and Hall, S (eds), London. SAGE Publications.   p317-324

Mirzoeff, N. (2013). ‘Introduction: for Critical Visuality Studies’ In The Visual Culture Reader. Mirzoeff, N (ed). Routledge, OXON. p.ⅨⅩⅩ- ⅩⅩⅩⅧ.

The Free Dictionary (2016) Farlex Ltd. ‘Weltanschauung’  at   (accessed 17th March 2017)


Blog structure

Today I m setting up my BLOG contents structure, according to the OCA BLOG guide.