STOÀ Journal Issue 05: Contributive Workshops
In his prescient 2019 work Capitalist Realism, cultural critic Mark Fisher used the film Wall-e to point out the interpassive quality of critique under capitalism, where we delegate on a work of art or a piece of technology the agency to perform our judgement on our behalf. The Pixar film shows the Earth as an uninhabitable landfill, made up of the waste of consumerism’s dreams. While the highly likeable robot Wall-e, an echo of the black and white slapstick stars of old, works tirelessly to clean the mess, a humanity voided of any autonomy and desire is comfortably kept calm through an entertainment diet, waiting on a spaceship for better days to come. The film premiered in the summer of 2008, only a year after the fourth IPCC report had been published denouncing the warming of the climate system as unequivocal, and a month before the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers capped the largest financial crisis in a century. Wall-e, however, was a popular and critical success. Trusting on that sure to happen narrative u-turn that always saves the day, an aesthetic reflection on our current solutionism, the audience in theatres around the world smiled happily to the mirror bluntly put before their popcorn chewing faces. Reflecting on this, Fisher writes how subjugation under capitalist realism «no longer takes the form of a subordination to an extrinsic spectacle, but rather invites us to interact and participate, […] the film performs our anti-capitalism for us, allowing us to consume with impunity.» Critique is neutralized by easing its delegation elsewhere. Isn’t it more comfortable? Don’t we have enough on our plates already? Unambiguous traces of this interpassive quality can be easily found in the emergence of participation as one of the favorite buzzwords of neoliberal urban design and development discourses since the early 1990s…
Published in STOÀ Journal. Strumenti per l’insegnamento della progettazione architettonica.
Issue 05: [Workshop] Anno II, num. 3/3 Autunno 2022