As part of our complimentary studies we looked a lot at the concept of the dérive. It has its origins in the Letterist International movement of the 1940s, an artistic and political collective based in Paris. The dérive continued to be a critical concept in the theory of Situationist International the radical group of avant-garde artists and political theorists that succeeded the Letterist International. For the Situationists, the dérive is the primary technique for exploring an urban landscape’s psychogeography and engaging in new experiences.
A dérive is best described as “…… an unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, on which the subtle aesthetic contours of the surrounding architecture and geography subconsciously direct the traveller’s with the ultimate goal of encountering an entirely new and authentic experience.” It is “An opportunity for an utterly new and authentic experience of the different atmospheres and feelings generated by urban landscapes.” (Debord, 1958)
One of the exercises we were given was Ten Steps To Here. During a journey we had to stop ten times and take a photograph. We could have a theme such as ten yellow objects or ten round objects or make it entirely random.
I decided to stop every 19 paces and crouch down to look hard for something I would not normally have noticed. These are my ten pictures.
So the question is, what did I learn from my dérive?
I learnt to look for the unseen and to be curious.
Debord, G (1958) Definitions. Internationale Situationniste #1 (Paris, June 1958). Translated by Ken Knabb