As the social relationships between people were becoming increasingly mediated by images, and the symbols of consumption such as cars, neon signs, and shops became ever more seductive and signs of social status and personal identity, the process of deindustrialisation continued to spread slowly throughout the manufacturing highways of South Australia. For the blue collar, white working class in Adelaide who were losing their jobs a result, consumer society’s promised land of a better middle class life for all seemed to move further away into the distance.
The process of deindustrialization meant that the realities of the world experienced by ordinary people stood in marked contrast to the glossy spectacle image-text world of commodified experience. If there was a space for a weighing of the actual against the promised, there was yet no popular reaction to the neo-liberal globalisation.
There was, however, a cultural tradition of a poetic and sensual desire to be intensely living in the world, feeling its most intimate reality, through a turning away from the cultural, moral, intellectual, and political values of the prevailing social order to the world of play, creativity within the functional drudgery of contemporary urban life.
Such a poetics is a search for a creativity and desires stripped of the layers of social convention and meaning a poetics capable of discovering and expressing the horrors and marvels of contemporary experience, and expose the poverty of an everyday reality organised solely for the perpetuation of the social order of industrial capitalism.
Aimless strolls in the city that let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there open up the ground of a new realm of experiment with the possibilities of everyday experience. Surrealism had invoked a world of floating encounters through which the hunter of marvels drifts according to whim and desire. The surrealist’s emphasis is on events marked by the eruption of the marvellous into ordinary experience: stunning and haphazard moments which expresses all that is unexpected, fresh, awesome, and vertiginous in a world experienced as a mundane and dull causality.
Given the removal of art to a separated realm in which it is practised by a few specialists within well-defined perimeters that celebrated originality, genius, and artistic form, the drifting through the everyday urban life in the modern city is the ground that opens up the gap between desire and the false promise of its fulfilment. This gap provides a space for play, festivity, spontaneity, creativity and the imagination.
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