SITUATIONIST: Situation status: banned

By Pablo Medel. May 4, 2012


A spectre is haunting Apple: the spectre of situationists. And so it is that the Cupertino giant has been compelled to censor and to delete the Situationist app from its virtual store. The post-Marxist and anarchic philosophy lead by the intellectual Guy Debord was prepared to revive on the screen of your iPhone. There is no better tool, as paradoxical as it can be, to recreate that social defiance, don’t you think?

Differences aside –the commotion caused by The Society of the Spectacle or the May '68 revolts happened a long time ago–, the world in which we are living now seems to have taken to the streets to wave the flag of anti-capitalism. The ways have changed –homo consumus is now a reality–, but the foundations are still the same. Read Avertissement aux écoliers et lycéens by Raoul Vaneigem, another situationist champion, and you will understand the importance that the movement had, beyond graffiti, flirtations with surrealism or the usual happenings.

Today, in the demonstrations against the European crisis and the bombardment of social spending cuts, high-tech smartphones are raised to take a picture or type the 140 characters de rigueur, but the message is still the same: break the market rules and transform today’s disenchantment in indignation. Millions of people get out on the streets and in the end one question seems to be repeated: now what? The censored app could be an option, maybe the most “politically incorrect”. What we know for sure is that it aimed to lay on the table the necessary debate on the eternal showdown between ideological unrest and new technologies.

The idea of this original app, inspired in the Situationist International founded in 1957, was very simple: break the chains of consumerism and false appearances (think of advertising) and create unique and group situations to transform the only thing that can be transformed: the present. From “Write the first thing that comes to mind” or “Hug me for 5 seconds exactly” to “Ask me what I think of the war” or “Destroy the nearest TV”, the app included a long list of all kinds of situations, with only one purpose: to knock down the walls of prevailing logic.

We can guess why the app has been banned beyond the official answer (“uses their location services in an unauthorised manner”), but, paraphrasing Debord, it’s clear that “the society of the spectacle is a form that chooses its own technological content.”

Let matters take their course.

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