This shift in modeling is also representative of a shift in the definition of artistic avant-gardes. The era of manifestos has suffered under the baggage of those who took representative discourse to its extremes: the Situationists themselves. A slogan can no longer be taken at face value. Directives are given to robots – no longer to humans, for whom they have been replaced by directions, whereas a
directive has the technical meaning of an instruction. Here are some examples of code that directs the actions of robots, from
<meta name="robots" content="index,follow">
<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow">
<meta name="robots" content="index,nofollow">
<meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">
The directive discourse is combinatory and data is submitted to it, waiting for its orders: the code takes over. The performance on the structure changes meaning: the wall doesn't support the writing, the data, or the slogans. It becomes the writing. Read the above code against the directives listed in the May ‘68 Communique "Slogans To Be Spread Now By Every Means":
OCCUPY THE FACTORIES
POWER TO THE WORKERS COUNCILS
ABOLISH CLASS SOCIETY
DOWN WITH THE SPECTACLE-COMMODITY SOCIETY
ABOLISH THE UNIVERSITY
HUMANITY WON'T BE HAPPY TILL THE LAST BUREAUCRAT IS HUNG WITH
THE GUTS OF THE LAST CAPITALIST
DEATH TO THE COPS
FREE ALSO THE 4 GUYS CONVICTED FOR LOOTING DURING THE MAY 6
Situationists, when writing on walls, didn't change the qualities of the wall, but rather its most superficial function, transforming the neutral into the symbolic. The "brick & cement meant to separate us for the sake of urban living" becomes "we are structures of control and we reveal it by becoming pages for counter-power directives." The wall, by revealing its symbolic form, switches from
supporting one set of directives (control-based) to supporting another (freedom-based). But, they are still directives with a message, and the wall is subordinated to the data. Spammers, if we carry on with this notion of infrastructure, decompose and rebuild the wall itself in a way that is pre-symbolic. The only means by which Situationists can accomplish this literally is by destroying the wall itself, which is exactly what the students did in May 68, dismantling the streets to use the paving stones as weapons. So too in 1871.
This is precisely what is happening with our search engine Spammers, and this is why the study of Situationist spam cannot be limited to the question of slogans or data. Rather, it must to be confronted with code, with the changing of things in their materiality. Hence, the notion of infrastructure is important, but should be re-approached in terms of protocol in order to avoid reading it as an inexact metaphor: we are not confronted by a symbolic page with directive data but with material code that performs orders as an action – a literal performativity, not the willing performativity of slogans.
Follow the link above for pdf of the full article.