Grey Room

The Insolent Edit

McKenzie Wark


Through the lens of Martine Barraqué, who edited Society of Spectacle (1973) and its sequel Réfutation… (1975), Wark discusses the organization of images as a map or diagram of détournement, that is, cinematic spectacle as a true representation of a falsified world but also as a reservoir of untapped affects. Surprising complexity and consistency emerges if one accepts a central premise: the spectacle attempts to negate the possibility of making history, but history remains as a residue within the spectacle in fragmented form. The experience of lived time, irreversible time, on a small or a grand scale, is that which escapes the spectacle and hence remains a resource against it. And yet the spectacle cannot help itself; it is drawn again and again to the memory of that which it erases. The feature films excerpted and détourned in Debord’s own films serve like blocks of affect, of potential feeling that can be retrieved from the cinematic inversion and put back on their feet, as the vehicles by which to make one’s own meaning, one’s own sense. In each case an insolent disregard for narrative and genre frees the fragment for redeployment.