“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.”
“give me the HUGGY WUGGY SKIN THAT I GOT SCAMMED FOR!”
The first quote is from The Society of the Spectacle, a book written by prominent Situationist Guy Debord. The second is from a kid in a vrchat among us lobby who was subjected to trickery and tomfoolery when trying to acquire a Huggy Wuggy avatar in vrchat.
While the first iteration of this was more of an intervention (I actually intervened in a vrchat among us game with my youth pastor schtick) and I was more of an observer in the second iteration, where my plan was to do Seinfeld stand-up bits, I think that the spectacle I encountered is more interesting to focus on. While we didn’t have any assigned reading focused mainly on the situationist movement itself (at least as far as I’m aware), I believe they are relevant to the teachings of this class, especially since they built on the Surrealist and Dada movements. And I believe the philosophy of the Situationists was demonstrated in the spectacle I witnessed in vrchat.
The use of the word “scammed” in the huggy wuggy affair is interesting. What happened, as far as I am aware, was that someone lead the seeker of the huggy wuggy skin to a vrchat world where he said he could get the huggy wuggy skin (vrchat avatars are often gained in “avatar world” where an object in the world gives you and allows you to save an avatar), but the world contained nothing. There was no monetary transaction, and yet the bamboozled party claimed they were scammed. While scammed could just be the first word the kid could think of to describe the situation, I believe it reflects a deeper commodification of society that Debord wrote about. “give me the HUGGY WUGGY SKIN THAT I GOT SCAMMED FOR!” is an expression of the anger of someone who couldn’t acquire an image that is treated as a rare an expensive commodity as they wanted not only to have that image, but appear as it, in order to affect the social relation they had with others in this virtual world.
So to summarize this, in my adventures in the world of vrchat I encountered an exaggerated and hyperbolic representation of the modern society described by Debord and the Situationist movement. But rather than trying to do any direct critique of it or the capitalist world it is derived from, I just did some youth pastor and Jerry Seinfeld bits. Cuz why not, that’s kinda funny. Oh and I also won an among us imposter game as a painting of the Mona Lisa. All of that is documented in photoshop collages I made that can be found here. I’ll also include them in this post itself, but they will be lower quality. Maybe in the future someone smarter than me could do something to critique the relation of one’s avatar in vrchat to the social relations they have with others in it, but that’s an intervene project for another day.