Setting Up The World As A Picture

“A nation without fancy, without some romance, never did, never can, never will, hold a great place under the sun.” Charles Dickens

As Tim Mitchell notes in Colonialism and Culture, the “integral relationship between representation, as a modern technique of meaning and order, and the construction of otherness” helped to create not only notions of national identity and imperial purpose, but an entire external reality. [20]

The new apparatus of representation (the modern representational order) sets the preconditions for the distribution of allowable, and thus, accessible imagery. This aesthetic distribution and/or ideological distortion, categorizes everyday life by densely imbricating “arrangements of imagery and expertise that organize and produce something as a political reality.” [20] Hence, citizens of the state, subject to the constitution, and so on.

“Arrangement is the gradation of aims, the classification of intentions.” [13, Le Corbusier] Le Corbusier

The machinery of representation is a system of signification. “What reduced the world to a system of objects was the way their careful organization enabled them to evoke some larger meaning.” [20, Mitchell] The organization of the view of meaningful facades (what Time Mitchel calls the “intizam almanzar”) is “a place of spectacle and visual arrangement, of organization of everything and everything organized to represent, to recall, like the exhibition, a larger meaning.” [20]

The resulting dominant aesthetic distribution is ultimately a theater of exclusion. The observing eye is an excluded eye. The effect of objectness, “the visual arrangement around a curious spectator” and the representation of otherness, as outside of oneself, enables this “machinery of representation” to construct a theater of reality. [20]

“The world-as-exhibition means not an exhibition of the world but the world organized and grasped as though it were on exhibition.” (Mitchell) [20]

The world itself becomes an endless exhibition; as in, walking through a hall of mirrors, the world-as-exhibition is a labyrinth without exists – exhibitions whose exists lead to further exhibitions whose exists lead to further exhibitions. The world-as-exhibition is a place where the artificial model of reality becomes an order characterized by absence/separation. The world-as-exhibition, or the world-as-other, becomes an object-world, a departed world of distorted senses under implausible pretext.


“From a Platonic point of view, the stage, which is simultaneously a locus of public activity and the exhibition-space for ‘fantasies’, disrupts the clear partition of identities, activities, and spaces.” [1Ranciere]

There is not distinction between the simulated and the real. A particular experience materializes into a place, a period of time, a memory, or an object, external and distinguishable from the reality it claims to represent, but the artificial representation of the real world, the real world as an extension of the exhibition, represents a reality beyond.

“Understood in its totality, the spectacle is both the outcome and the goal of the dominant mode of production. It is something added to the real world – not a decorative element, so to speak. On the contrary, it is the very heart of society’s real unreality. In all its specific manifestations – news or propaganda, advertising or the actual consumption of entertainment – the spectacle epitomizes the prevailing model of social life. It is the omnipresent celebration of a choice already made in the sphere of production, and the consummate result of that choice. In form as in content the spectacle serves as total justification for the conditions and aims of the existing system. It further ensures the permanent present of the justification, for it governs almost all time spent outside the production process itself.” [6] (Debord, p.13)

The commodity fetish in a world exhibition creates an exhibitionist world instead of an authentic process of interaction. Any pilgrimage thus becomes a disappearance into ritual.


13, Le Corbusier

6] (Debord,

[20] Mitchell, Timothy (1992). Colonialism and Culture, Michigan: University of Michigan Press