THE CONCEPT OF SITUATIONISM

First of all, we think the world must be changed. We want the most liberating change of the society and life in which we find ourselves confined. We know that such a change is possible through appropriate actions. Our central idea is the construction of situations, that is to say, the concrete construction of momentary ambiences of life and their transformation into a superior passional quality. We must develop a systematic intervention based on the complex factors of two components in perpetual interaction: the material environment of life and the behaviours which that environment gives rise to and which radically transform it.

— Guy Debord, Report on the Construction of Situations

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“In matters of war too the Druids and singing bards are readily obeyed, and this by their enemies as well as their own people.
Often, in fact, when battle lines are drawn and armies close ground with swords and spears poised, they will step out into the middle and stop both sides as if enchanting wild beasts.
Thus the spirit yields to the arts, and Mars reveres the Muses.”

— A description of Druidic musicians in Celtic Gaul by Diodorus Siculus, World History, Vol V:31., Ist century CE.

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The concept of situation was developed in 1959 by the famous French radical artist, theorist, author and film-maker Guy Debord (1931-1994), who became internationally recognised for his 1967 book The Society of the Spectacle and his 1973 film of the same name. These two works were signally prophetic of what the world has become today, when many people feel as if they are passive spectators of history.

Debord was a fiercely eloquent critic of consumer society and commodity fetishism. He decried the monetisation of life underway in post-war 1950s Europe. He notably lamented the commodification of art as social status symbol and as a vehicle for speculative investment, instead of the transformative source of wonder and inspiration that was its original and sacred function. Under current circumstances "in which life is presented as an immensea ccumulation of spectacles", he felt the only art practice still worthy of the name is for artists to apply their creativity for the construction of psycho-social situations that catalyse participants to greater democratic consciousness and civic responsibility for social progress. Debord’s applied his situationist tactics in a poetic but adversarial way in the French cultural revolution of May 1968.
 
Debord became an intellectual superstar in May 1968 when ubiquitous graffiti of his poetical texts appeared on the walls of the Sorbonne and the Latin Quarter in Paris. These situationist interventions inspired students, workers and women to unite their movements for social change, albeit in adversarial relation to the goverment. But May ’68 transformed France forever. It is was a cultural, social and moral turning point in history. In 1988, Debord published a follow-up book, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle. He died in 1994. In 2009, the French Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand classified the archive of Debord’s works as a national treasure and praised him as "one of the most important contemporary thinkers, with a capital place in the history of ideas from the second half of the 20th century." The BnF (Bibliotheque Nationale de France) organised a major retrospective of his work in Paris in 2013, with a related catalogue entitled Guy Debord - Un art de la guerre.
THE GLOBAL VISION APPROACH TO SITUATIONISM

As an art pracice in general and as a form of information-art in particular, Global Vision Foundation recognises the great untapped political potential that a situationist approach to the global crisis can provide for public and private planetary stakeholders to engage in non-adversarial interaction, mutual learning and collaboration for the sustainability transition.  We have adopted this situationist approach in the construction of the Politics of Perception event that we want to organise at Geneva in 2020. This happening is designed as a psycho-social mise-en-scène involving an art exhibition, a related theatrical performance and a major transdisciplinary international conference for public and private stakeholders to recognise the inherent limits of human perception and begin to discuss their mutual ways of seeing each other in the context of the global crisis. Perception shift is the starting block for the creative system change that is urgently required for a non-violent transition to sustainability. This is a catalyst.