Leslie Damasceno, Duke University

"Consumer Aesthetics and the (lm)possibility of the Resistant Theatrical Image."

This paper discusses theories of consumer aesthetics as they apply to the theatrical image. Reviewing the paradoxically utopian pessimism of Debordís theories on the "society of the spectacle," I will examine the notion that the physical immediacy of the communicative relation between stage and public creates a unique moment or opportunity in which perception of an image can sustain a meaningful impact beyond the instant of its perception.. The basic question of my presentation is: What kind of images can prove "resistant" to instant consumption, i.e. what kind of theatrical images manage to remain provocative of critical thought beyond the short time/space of viewer consumption. For example: I will discuss how and to what extent the Brechtian technique of distancing, or estrangement, remains a critically pungent theatrical aesthetic in a consumer society in which "estrangement," itself, has become the reigning aesthetic of commodity culture (ex.: collective exoticism of the Bennetton ads).