ISSN: 1302-2636 | E-ISSN: 2757-668X
A Critique on the Spectacular Architecture in Today’s World via Debord’s Theory of the Society of the Spectacle [Tasarım Kuram]
Tasarım Kuram. 2021; 17(34): 160-168 | DOI: 10.14744/tasarimkuram.2021.42713

A Critique on the Spectacular Architecture in Today’s World via Debord’s Theory of the Society of the Spectacle

Gülşah Güleç
Department of Architecture, Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey

Spectacle is still a challenging concept since it is used by Debord to define and discuss the status of the society in the 20th century. As such, the concept of spectacle is discussed in many other social disciplines as the disciplines of philosophy, art and sociology. It is also discussed in the discipline of architecture in such a way that the concept of spectacular architecture is developed in the last century. This paper is based on the spectacular architecture and its consequences. The aim of the paper is to reveal the conceptual framework of spectacle and its recent effects in architecture. According to Debord, spectacle defines a society full of spectacular objects and images. Both objects and their images are commoditized in the society of the spectacle (See Debord, 1996). The commoditization process promotes the process of consumption. The images of the objects are even consumed during these processes. Hence, the production of the object is mainly replaced by the production of image in today’s society. Images are easily and rapidly produced by using computer technology. They are commonly shared, experienced and consumed on media. So, spectacle becomes even more challenging in architecture and society.
Computer technology and media pave the way for the spectacle to enhance its effects throughout the world. Commercial is now the essential part of this world. Almost every product is commercialized today. Architectural products are also commercialized as any other industrial product. Media promotes these products together with their spectacular packages. Content already becomes irrelevant due to the fact that package is now more significant. Many architectural products have spectacular packages as well. Particularly their sophisticated facades turn them into spectacular products. They are seen as the most valuable products in the recent architecture. However, value does not only depend on spectacle or capital in architecture; it is also based on the social, environmental and cultural value of the architectural product.
Spectacle is the consequence of the capitalist economy policies. It now becomes more dominant in the big cities in which capitalist and neoliberalist economy policies are adapted. Big and spectacular buildings define the unique places and identities of these cities within the global world. Besides, spectacle turns them into touristic places. It points out to the fact that spectacle is especially for tourists and consumers. The culture of spectacle leads all of us to become tourists in our own cities. But cities are expected to enhance the sense of belonging. Architectural objects are also expected to be produced based on the real needs and requirements of the city-dwellers. They should not be produced to be spectacular objects or images. And such, this production process should not negatively affect the balance in between nature and architecture. But the big cities suffering from the big architectural productions and their costs lose their natural habitat day by day. They become bigger and bigger in such a way that they would recently meet other big cities and so the world would eventually turn into a giant city. Spectacle makes the world a whole, but a fragmented whole actually. This united and fragmented world is mainly discussed via Debord’s theory of the society of the spectacle and today’s spectacular architecture by the concepts such as mediatic, hypnotic, fetishistic, photogenic, iconic, dynamic, atmospheric, egocentric, eccentric and ecstatic in the paper.
Spectacular architectural products today are generally experienced by the city-dwellers as if they are tourists. Spectacle leads the relations of architecture and society to be disjunted. This disjunction is initiated within the industrial era of the 20th century and it is enhanced within the digital era of the 21st century. It is critically discussed in the paper due to the fact that it sets architecture apart from the social needs, values, dynamics and realities. It is emphasized that spectacle both unites and fragmentizes today’s world. Yet, it is a fact that spectacular architecture and the society of the spectacle would be even more effective and dominant in the future. Because today’s political, financial and sociological conditions and technological opportunities would be more powerful in the world of the future. On the other side, not only spectacular images or image effects but also social needs and benefits should be significant for architects, designers, politicians, businesspeople and all the individuals in the society. We should redesign the relations in between architecture and society. We should balance the relations in between production and consumption as well. Architecture is actually a social production beyond our desires and consumption habits. It is about designing by thinking on encounters, spatial experiences and social relations. It is not a mere spectacular production.

Keywords: Spectacular architecture, the society of the spectacle, the culture of consumption, mass culture.

Debord’un Gösteri Toplumu Kuramı Üzerinden Bugünün Dünyası ve Gösteri Mimarlığı Üzerine Bir Eleştiri

Gülşah Güleç
Gazi Üniversitesi Mimarlık Fakültesi, Mimarlık Bölümü, Ankara, Türkiye

Bu makalenin amacı, gösterinin kavramsal çerçevesini ve mimarlık alanı üzerindeki etkisini ortaya koymaktır. Gösteri, Debord’un onu geçtiğimiz yüzyılın toplumunu tanımlamak için kullandığından beri, dikkat çekici ve etkili bir kavram olma özelliğini korumaktadır. Öyle ki, gösteri kavramı ve gösteri toplumu kuramı felsefe, sanat ve sosyoloji gibi alanlarla sınırlı kalmayıp başka birçok toplumsal alanda tartışma konusu olmaktadır. Mimarlık alanında da sıklıkla tartışılan gösteri, gösteri mimarlığı kavramının ortaya çıkmasına neden olmuş; geçtiğimiz yüzyılda olduğu gibi, bu yüzyılda da güncel mimarlık anlayışını oluşturmuştur. Bu nedenle, makalede, bugünün mimarlık dünyasında gösteri ve mimarlığa olan etkileri ele alınmıştır. Gelişmiş bilgisayar teknolojileri ve medya sayesinde gösterinin medyatik, hipnotik, ekstatik, dinamik, atmosferik, fetişistik, eksantrik, fotojenik, ikonik ve egosantrik gibi kavramlarla tanımlandığı ve tartışıldığı anlaşılmıştır. Bu kavramlar, gösteriye ve gösteri mimarlığına yönelik eleştirel bir bakış açısının geliştirilmiş olduğunu ortaya koymaktadır. Eleştiri, gösterinin bugünün dünyasının gerçeği ve başlıca değeri olmasını engelleyememiş olsa da gösterişli bir biçimde tasarlanan ve tüketilmek üzere üretildiği anlaşılan mimarlık ürünlerine eleştirel bakabilmemizi sağlamaktadır. Belki de bu eleştirel bakış açışı, bugünün mimarlığının yanı sıra bugünün toplumunu, kentini ve kültürünü de karakterize eden gösterinin önüne geçilmesine değilse de ehlileştirilmesine yol açacaktır. Gösterinin ehlileştirilmesiyle üretimi ve tüketimi arttırmak yerine bu ikisi arasındaki ilişkileri yeniden düzenleyerek dengede tutmak mümkün olacaktır. Böylece toplumsal bir üretim alanı olan mimarlıkta bireysel hırslardan ve aşırıya kaçmış tüketim alışkanlıklarından uzaklaşılacak; gösteri(ş) yapmak değil topluma yarar sağlamak mimarlığın önceliği olarak görülmeye başlayacaktır.

Anahtar Kelimeler: Gösteri mimarlığı, gösteri toplumu, tüketim kültürü, kitle kültürü.

Gülşah Güleç. A Critique on the Spectacular Architecture in Today’s World via Debord’s Theory of the Society of the Spectacle. Tasarım Kuram. 2021; 17(34): 160-168

Corresponding Author: Gülşah Güleç, Türkiye
Manuscript Language: Turkish
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