Capitalism's Eye: Cultural Spaces of the Commodity by Kevin Hetherington

By Kevin Hetherington

Capitalism's Eye is a very bold cultural historical past of ways humans skilled commodities within the period of commercial growth. Writing opposed to the dominant argument that the 'society of the spectacle' emerged totally shaped within the mid-nineteenth century, Kevin Hetherington explains that the emergence of a tradition of mass intake ruled via visible event was once a far slower procedure, no longer actually ascendant until eventually after the 1st global struggle. the malls, domestic existence, and the nice exhibitions round the flip of the final century, Capitalism's Eye promises to remodel how we comprehend either the cultural historical past of capitalism in the US and Europe and the historic roots of the mediated spectacle that dominates our international at the present time.

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We might say that this is a defining feature of a modern consumer society. The unfolding of consumer culture from this emergent form in 1851 was to take place over the next century and a half. The Great Exhibition as a panorama on improvement was one of the first statements of this idea. It was in the department stores, people’s homes, and museums and galleries that different moments in the totality of that panorama of consumer culture were to be enacted and different fetishised acts of taking possession worked through and tacitly understood as a means of how to make oneself within a modern capitalist world.

In this chapter, I want to acknowledge but also problematize the concept of spectacle, I want to provide something that is more than a cursory reference to Debord’s work, and I want to argue that his theory is open to all sorts of questions that do not allow it to be treated like some kind of established fact. Seminal though his work might be in understanding consumer culture, Debord’s theory was the product of a particular time and place and a particular set of issues, and these have not all traveled as well as the concept of spectacle itself.

Within the idea of spectacle and of the gaze associated with it there has been something of a distinctive take on the question of mobility too. Key to this has been a displacement of the idea of mobility from the subject onto the object. If not moving images themselves as in film, then fractured, disorientating, and ever changing urban and consumption “screens” have become indicative of a mobile world of modernity that is available only to the gaze of a static modern subject (Kern 1983). This shift has seen an acknowledgment of the static, easily distracted subject with desires for the (mobile) image and its commodity forms.

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