“The spectacle is capital accumulated to the point that it becomes images,” Guy Debord tweeted in 1967.
And when @wasathatawolf tweeted, “I can’t shake the thought that NFTs are the truest manifestation of the spectacle,” yesterday,
Debord Ape Yacht Club was minted in my brain.
And so now here we are, at the intersection of détournement and commodification, selling t-shirts.
This exclusive one-of-one Debord Ape will be silkscreened in grayscale on a white Hanes Authentic [of course] T-shirt in 100% cotton. Because of the multiple screens required to mint this, and because I still just lost money on the last supposedly breakeven shirt stunt, this shirt is $25, shipped worldwide.
Debord Ape will be available til the end of Febrary [Monday2/28].
If fewer than 15 people order, I will burn the project, refund the enlightened dozen or whatever people’s money, and console them with some kind of tasty swag. The ape will live on as a jpg, free for right clicking. [Next day update: Everyone should feel free to right-click if they want, but the mob has spoken, and project will go ahead!]
So if you’re looking for a way to expose the spectacle’s alienating financialization while mirroring capitalist recuperation through détournement and self-critical commodification, hopefully, you order your Debord Ape T-shirt while you could.
Thank you all for your engagement.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, Geraldine Juárez, who’s been really smart in her analysis of NFTs for a while already, and who also made the Debord connection almost a year ago, just tweeted about an even deeper Debord/Apes connection. From a 1957 column fragging Alain Robbe-Grillet’s timid clinging to the present, Debord declares for the revolutionary power of ape art:
Last June witnessed a scandal when a film I had made in 1952 [Hurlements en faveur de Sade] was screened in London. It was not a hoax and still less a Situationist achievement, but one that depended on complex literary motivations of that time (works on the cinema of Isou, Marco, Wolman), and thus fully participated in the phase of decay, precisely in its most extreme form, without even having — except for a few programmatic allusions — the wish for positive developments that characterized the works to which I have alluded. Afterward, the same London audience (Institute of Contemporary Arts) was treated to some paintings executed by chimpanzees, which bear comparison with respectable action painting. This proximity seems to me instructive. Passive consumers of culture (one can well understand why we count on the possibility of active participation in a world in which “aesthetes” will be forgotten) can love any manifestation of decomposition (they would be right in the sense that these manifestations are precisely those that best express their period of crisis and decline, but one can see that they prefer those that slightly disguise this state). I believe that in another five or six years they will come to love my film and the paintings of apes, just as they already love Robbe-Grillet. The only real difference between the paintings of apes and my complete cinematographic work to date is its possible threatening meaning for the culture around us, namely, a wager on certain formations of the future.“One More Try if you Want to be Situationists (the SI In and Against Decomposition), 1957, via situationist international online
[Meanwhile, Juárez’s original quote that referenced this was not from Debord directly, but from Esther Leslie’s 2004 book Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory, and the Avant Garde. Credit where it’s due, thanks Geraldine!]