The Emancipated Spectator
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The theorists of art and film commonly depict the modern audience as aesthetically and politically passive. In response, both artists and thinkers have sought to transform the spectator into an active agent and the spectacle into a communal performance.
In this follow-up to the acclaimed The Future of the Image, Rancière takes a radically different approach to this attempted emancipation. First asking exactly what we mean by political art or the politics of art, he goes on to look at what the tradition of critical art, and the desire to insert art into life, has achieved. Has the militant critique of the consumption of images and commodities become, ironically, a sad affirmation of its omnipotence?
theme of ‘participation’ and the invitation to educated, generous youth to participate in a modernized and humanized capitalism that were at the heart of 1960s neo-capitalist ideology and state reformism. The opposition between the artistic critique and the social critique is not based on any analysis of historical forms of protest. In line with Bourdieu’s teaching, it makes do with attributing the struggle against misery and for community bonds to workers and the individualist desire for
became established in the second half of the nineteenth century, in a very specific context. It was when physiology discovered the multiplicity of nervous stimuli and circuits in place of what had been the unity and simplicity of the soul; and when, with Taine, psychology transformed the brain into a ‘polyp of images’. The problem is that this scientific promotion of quantity coincided with another – that of the popular multitude which was the subject of the form of government called democracy;
spectator pertains to the curious device that adopts Plato’s prohibition of theatre for theatre. Accordingly, it is these principles that should be re-examined today. Or rather, it is the network of presuppositions, the set of equivalences and oppositions, that underpin their possibility: equivalences between theatrical audience and community, gaze and passivity, exteriority and separation, mediation and simulacrum; oppositions between the collective and the individual, the image and living
recounts his exploits at Shenandoah or the latter charges, sword unsheathed, in the role of General Custer, we are initially tempted to perceive a parodic condemnation of American imperialism and its glorification by Hollywood cinema. That is how many understand the détournement advocated by Guy Debord. But this is a misinterpretation. It is in all seriousness that he introduces Errol Flynn’s charge, taken from Raoul Walsh’s They Died with Their Boots On, in order to illustrate a thesis about the
her own path. What our performances – be they teaching or playing, speaking, writing, making art or looking at it – verify is not our participation in a power embodied in the community. It is the capacity of anonymous people, the capacity that makes everyone equal to everyone else. This capacity is exercised through irreducible distances; it is exercised by an unpredictable interplay of associations and dissociations. It is in this power of associating and dissociating that the emancipation of