Understanding Visual Culture- Part 2- The Society of the Spectacle

In this exercise we had to read “Separation Perfected” by Guy Debord in the course reader.

As explained in the exercise, I had to read the chapter a few times in order for it to sink in and so I could gain a better understanding.

Weltanschauung- a comprehensive philosophy or a world view?

In order to answer this question, I choose to look for a definition of Weltanschauung. I found that it meant

a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it

Through reading the chapter I felt as though, to begin with, Debord views the spectacle as a philosophy however over time it then becomes a world view as it becomes more socially acceptable and believable even to its creators.

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

I found this question quite difficult to answer as the spectacle can be viewed in a number of ways. Mainly I feel the spectacle is the copy of reproduction of things, this then can be broken down into

  • Mass media- images and news etc being continually streamed and repeated
  • People- wanting to copy others, conform and follow trends

Has the passage of time confirmed or contradicted Debord’s view?

I think that since this was published in 1967, Debord’s view has been confirmed. The spectacle presents a fake reality to people and as people can see things they believe them to be true. An example of this, in celebrity culture, is when a female celebrity is seen wearing a baggy top we are lead to believe by magazines etc that they must be pregnant and because it has come from what we believe to be a reputable source, we agree that this must be the case. However, I also think that nowadays the lines between reality and the reality as shown by the spectacle have become blurred.

Does his view that we ‘see the world by means of various specialised 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?

I strongly believe that his view leans more towards the view that the way we see the world is controlled. Within the chapter, he states ‘it is a world view which has become objectified’ by this i understand it to believe that people want things to be seen in a particular way so it is represented as reality so people conform to it. There will always be people who stand out in the crowd and want to separate themselves from mass media but the majority of people do watch adverts, read magazines and think that they must lose weight or they must act in a particular way because so and so does etc.

Is the spectacle viewing the real as abstract or an extreme reification?

I think that the spectacle is seen as viewing the real as an extreme reification as it has been around for so long now that the ‘makers’ of the spectacles are beginning to believe it as the truth so society believes it to be the truth. It appears to have evolved from being viewed as an abstract to becoming a reification as nowadays if you see something on a reality show or in a magazine that you want it has become a lot easier to achieve it then it was in 1967.



About kunsworthphotography

I am currently studying towards a BA (Hons) in Photography with OCA and I have 2 children, Evie(4 years old) and Connor(3 years old)
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1 Response to Understanding Visual Culture- Part 2- The Society of the Spectacle

  1. Pingback: Understanding Visual Culture- Exercise 25- Illusion only is sacred, truth profane | kunsworthphotography's Blog

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