Detournement

From Academic Kids

Detournement; "short for: detournement of pre-existing aesthetic elements. The integration of past or present artistic production into a superior construction of a milieu. In this sense there can be no Situationist painting or music, but only a Situationist use of these means.", Internationale Situationiste issue 1, June 1958.

Detournement may be understood as the opposite of 'recuperation', the process by which radical ideas and images are commodified and incorporated within the 'safe' confines of 'spectacular' society. With detournement, images produced by the spectacle are altered and subverted so that rather than supporting the status quo, their meaning is changed in order to put across a more radical or oppositionist message. Such a pro-situ technique can be seen in the work of Culture Jammers such as AdBusters 1 (http://www.adbusters.org/), whose 'subvertisements' 'detourn' Nike adverts, for example. In this case the original advertisement's imagery is altered in order to draw attention to said company's policy of shifting their production base to cheap labour cost third world 'free trade zones'.

However, the line between 'recuperation' and 'detournement' can at times seem rather thin. Naomi Klein, in her book No Logo, details how Culture Jammers and AdBusters have been approached (sometimes successfully) by corporations such as Nike, Pepsi, or Diesel, and offered lucrative contracts in return for partaking in 'ironic' promotional campaigns. She points up further irony in the instance of merchandising produced to promote AdBusters' Buy Nothing day; this, she suggests, may be understood as an example of the recuperation of detournement.

(Excerpt from: Situationist International)

Works in the poetic fields by marlene mountain and paul conneally with others working collaboratively to take 'quotes' or 'edicts' or 'how tos' especially as regards definitions of poetic forms such as haiku etc are examples of detournement - groups produce collaborative 'mountain sonnets' called 'connection' -each sonnet being 14 one line linked haiku like phrases that link to each other and the original quote so subverting it.

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