from Guy Debord

To Constant
[Beginning of June 1959]


On [...][2] May, an exhibition of [...][2] spatial construction by Constant began at the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam.

Composed of metallic elements including transparent plastic material, these constructions summarize an experimental development spanning several years. Only the most recent constructions in this series, which are few in number, are models (in the full sense of the word) intended for unitary urbanism; the intermediary constructions are models of isolated monuments; and the first investigations were an extreme form of sculpture.

The problem of models of unitary urbanism was only broached by Constant's first efforts, which only represent one of the directions to be taken (the model reduced to a terrain for new games, a terrain still presented abstractly, because it is not integrated into the social space of a precise town).

Nevertheless, this exhibition marks the passage (at the interior of modern artistic production) from the commodity-object, which is self-sufficient in itself and whose function is simply to be looked at, to the project-object, of which the valorization is more complex, since it appeals to an action to be taken, an action of a superior type that concerns the totality of life.

On the occasion of the opening of this exhibition, the Dutch situationists have produced a message of theoretical propaganda to be distributed by tape recorder.[3] This is the second time[4] that they have used this mode of public discourse.

The corrections[5]

The 2d paragraph is very confused. I believe I have captured your meaning by re-writing it thus:

"The construction of the old and new neighborhoods is in obvious conflict with established modes of behavior and all the more so with the new modes of life that we are investigating."

In place of "we still wager on a change on earth," I would say (so as to not oppose ourselves to possible interplanetary adventures), "we wager at first and always on . . . ."

Concerning "the new and joyous ambience in which we would like to live," I would suppress "and joyous," because this adjective gives an impression of vulgar gaiety, of the popular festivals of today. And the idea is better understood without it.


The rest is a simple question of agreements and harmony. There are hardly any corrections.

Nevertheless, there's the principal problem. The title "Our ambition is in the ambience" doesn't appear good to me (ambience is too restrictive a notion: that of decor, or even simply decoration). I propose "Our ambition is in the total construction of life/the milieu" -- or any other kind of title that you would prefer.[6]

[1] This manuscript, which was published in Potlatch (new series #1) in a shortened form, was preceded by marks made in pencil: "Place of this text (4) -- between 'Parisian galleries' and 'Taking out the trash.'"

[2] Marks in pencil: "Put in the figures." [Translator: 4 May 1959, approximately 30 models.]

[3] Translator: 1959 was a very early date for "artistic" experiments with tape recorders: Brian Eno's first experiments took place in 1964, those of Wlliam S. Burroughs in 1966, etc. etc.

[4] Translator: the first time was at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture, April 1959.

[5] For the article in I.S. #3 [December 1959], p. 37.

[6] The eventual title was "Another town for another life."

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 1, 1957-1960. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! October 2005.)

To Contact NOT BORED!
ISSN 1084-7340.
Snail mail: POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998