Friday, May 25, 2007

Auferstanden aus Ruinen

There's fairly clearly something of a rehabilitation of Albert Speer's Theory of Ruin Value afoot right now, and I worried somewhat if this didn't have a few things in common with the aesthetic propounded here from time to time, of the beauty and pregnancy of the relics of Social Democracy and State Socialism. Helpfully, Dominic Fox proposes a distinction between the ruined and the defunct - the ruin is fundamentally dead, while the defunct can be remade, reivigorated and restarted. This then is the important question asked by Murphy's hauntogeography: The beauty of situations such as this should not just be reduced to some guilty eschatological pleasure, what can we take from this into our own production? But more to the point, what is its affective power - why should we use it in our production? Because its picturesque, or because it contains within it something promised and still with latent forces within it?

Further questions of reinvigoration, and of the dialectical switch of the moribund and the reified into the revolutionary come in 'Britney Spears explains the Commodity Form', a truly superlative post by Voyou (with video accompaniment) which takes up the other version of the Frankfurt School, the one in which fashion, cartoons, advertising and the 'look-but-don't-buy' aesthetic and anticipatory futurism (eg - the Gallery of Machines, top) of the great expositions is taken to have latent (and not so latent) revolutionary potential. An aside here, not entirely connected: while the materials of the Expos Benjamin writes of have as their motif the fetishist maxim of 'look, don't touch', in the Soviet Pavilion at the 1925 Paris Expo there were reports that French workers were rifling through the books and stroking the glass and wood of the building - 'now this, this is our club', one of them apparently said: a tactility that the building deliberately encouraged, an abolition of the divide between the apparently differing perversions of the frotteur and the scopophile.


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