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"dérive" Tag

Wandering and Wondering

Wednesday, October 26, 2016



Defining psychogeography by breaking it down into two parts: it’s the psychological and the geographical. Psychogeography was used by Situationist as a study of the specific effects of the geographical environment on the emotions and behaviour of individuals. They were creating a channel of communication between the city and it’s citizens to strive for a better habitat and to create an utopia.
We are all born into this world with a natural curiosity for our surroundings, and based on our early interactions and experiments we created our own interpretation of an Utopia. When we are thinking about our personal Utopian space, we are describing how different places, smells and colours make us feel and behave. We are transforming our desires into objects we like, materials we feel comfortable with, people we trust and streets we know.

There are many environmental factors like our surrounding people, possibilities, opportunities and social facilities that can influence our desires. This makes me question if we should pursue our desires unconsciously (surrealist) to keep them as honest as possible. Sometimes I feel that our real desires change as soon as we think about it and act like it. When we are not conscious, we are not able to change them. A big part of these influences are the many choices we have nowadays. The amount of choice is overpowering our true desire, which makes it hard to feel satisfied. This might be the reason why our desires are changing and transforming itself over and over again. Because of the many choices we have to tend to get lost in between purpose, desire and satisfaction.



"Tiger & Turtle - Magic Mountain" by Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth


To let go of these desires and expectations for a little while we can do a “Dérive” through the city. This was introduced by Guy Debord in 1956. The concepts origins are in the Letterist International Collective based in Paris, where the dérive was a critical tool for understanding and developing the theory of psychogeography.
The dérive is an unplanned journey though a landscape (mostly Urban) where the participant is following a new logic that let’s them experience the landscape again, and that will force us to see what we would otherwise ignore.

Where a dérive in those times was all about exploring the streets and its environments, I think that a dérive nowadays has a lot more to offer: while we are having a moment of un-defined time in this “always-online” and time-focused world we are living in, the architectural spaces are inviting us to move. The choices we make are becoming an exercise of creating alternative ways of interpretation instead of passively following the traditional map. We are challenged to take courage and to get lost solely in order to find one’s way again.

    Hereby I recommend everyone to get lost every once in a while


  1. [x] [ This site is created by a psychogeographical collective, where they write (and photograph) their wanderings and mapping of the past, present and possible ]
  2. [x] [ This is a beautifully written portrait of a place, based on history and personal associations. ] 


Adding the contemporary to the psychogeography:

Nowadays, digital mapping and mechanisms of exploring geographic environments by using mobile phones or pc’s have reached a high level of development and importance. You can find a traveling guideline for the most simple things as well as very detailed environments from all over the world. This way current knowledge has transferred the concept of impossible into possible. ( there even exists an application called “derive“ that is helping you to get lost…….. ) It reminds me of the interpretation given by Situationist for the absence of utopia: “No utopia can no longer be available because the conditions to become reality already exists” Yet do these things only exist to maintain the current state of things and not to serve the needs for quality life.

This knowledge and technology has created the development of Urban Interactive Installations and happening of interactive challenge. This whole new way of investigating and the human involvement in geographical environment has developed into another way of using psychogeography, where artists started to work by the theory of the Situationist and tried to approach the dynamics of human presence and behavior. In fact, in many cases the artists who use the terms of dérive and psychogeography are not practically associating their work with the impression of these concepts, as originally interpreted.


    Examples of Interactive installations:
  1. [x] [ 14 interactive installations in NYC ]
  2. [x] [ “Sway’d” – Interactive Public Art Installation in Salt Lake City ]

Also the Situationist have inspired many street artists, especially in term of content and composition . These artists are expressing their imagination on the wall by using the techniques of détournement and the construction of Situationist to create a whole new atmosphere in the city.


BANKSY - 2007unnamed

BANKSY - 2007 [above] • Edgar Mueller - Lava Burst


“The revolution in everyday life, breaking its present resistance to the historical (and to every kind of change), will create conditions in which the present dominates the past and the creative aspects of life always predominate over the repetitive ones. We must therefore expect that the side of everyday life expressed by the concepts of ambiguity (misunderstandings, compromises, misuses) will decline considerably in importance in favor of their opposites: conscious choices and gambles”.

– GUY DEBORD May 1961

[x] Here you can read “the society of the spectacle” by Guy Debord. The book consists of 221 theses where he traces the development of a modern society in which authentic social life has been replaced with it’s representation.



the pleasure of the unknown

Monday, October 24, 2016


Guy DEBORD - Concept of "Derive"
How could people renounce to act, to move into a defined space?

“Follow the line. Walk. Turn left. Straight on. Turn right.”
Everyday is the same way. Wake up, go to work, one way. Finish work, go back home, same way. Same streets. Same sidewalk. Same hall. Same way to move into a defined space. I’m bored. I have the feeling of being programmed. I walk as an automate. The way I’m moving is determined by the space. A space, which has been built to create a certain kind of movement. Movements chosen by the hand of the architect.
I’m bored.
I want to derive.
I want to EXPLORE.
I want to be excited.
Let’s break the routine.
Let’s take the chances as a guide.
Let’s follow the chances.
The derive is defined by Guy Debord (a French Marxist theorist, writer, filmmaker, member of the Letterist International, founder of a Letterist faction, and founding member of the Situationist International) as a fast technical way to go through different atmospheres. It is deeply linked to the space and to how people recognize it. The right words are “the psychogeographical thought”.

The human being evolves during his life through different spaces. He is acting, moving because of his feelings but also because of the space he is in itself. If the space is small, without windows, just made of walls, he will turn around in circles like a wild beast, searching for some space to explore. Put him into a wide space, with no walls, maybe he will run, maybe he will walk but he will have the freedom to explore. The space, thus, determines our behavior.
The chances has an important repercussion on the derive, even if the mind and feelings about the space, are still the elements which affect your choices. You’re walking in the street without any goal, you want to get lost, to explore. To your left, there is a narrow passage, it seems calm and quiet. To your right, there is a big street, noisy and full of people. Which one would you choose? Which path will attract you the most? Your feelings will help you choose.
The derive is something you can do by yourself, alone, but it has more impact in a small group. People can help you discover different places you don’t know, they can help you appreciate it. Also, a group of 4/5people maximum can create a different energy than if you were just by yourself.


The exploration supposes a kind of calculus which helps you to know where you are going. That’s what the map is for. In your daily life, you just know the streets you need to take to be at specific places. Take a map and start to look at what is around you will help you to understand how the city is built and how you can play with it.
“What if today, I decide not to turn left but I chose to go right, to get to my office?”
A small change of your routine can have a very positive impact on you. Your attention will be different so you will start to feel the pleasure of the unknown.

First cover Guy Debord’s book

In architecture, the derive creates new spaces, new ways to go, to move and to determine the space. 

Everyday you take the lift, go to the 3rd floor and open the second door on the left to your office. No excitation. Tomorrow, you will climb the stairs, try a new way to move and you will rediscover a place you thought you knew.

Why not create a place where the owner could remove the walls to make the space bigger or smaller? A place where he could be his own architect, a place where, he has everyday, the possibility to create his own space. For example, in 1955 a building was built in New-York in which three four room apartments could be turned into a big twelve room apartment thanks you moving walls.
Also, one of the most famous architecture of De Stijl movement, the “Schröder House”, illustrates very well this idea of transformable space. The Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht was built in 1924 by Dutch architect Gerrit RIETVELD for Mrs. Truus Schröder-Schräder and her three children. She commissioned the house to be designed preferably without walls. It is visually very simple with its use of primary colors and geometric shapes. The outside-inside boundaries seem to blur, thanks to its many windows that open up completely to welcome nature indoors.
mulder-rietveld-schroder-house-living-room mulder-rietveld-schroder-house
This house is a great exemple of a home you could easily transform to suit the weather, your mood. The simple and straightforward house was made using long-lasting, affordable and standard materials like concrete, glass and wood, with floors made from rubber and even some small cork areas in the bedrooms, for standing when getting out of bed. A doorbell and a long horizontal window that only open a small area to receive the post straight to the working desk inside. Upstairs, three bedrooms and a living room area around a central staircase and fireplace can be dynamically turned into a open big open space when opening wide up the sliding the walls.
The whole idea of derive deeply echoes Constant’s work. After WW2, the artist saw the destroyed cities as a possibility to rebuild them in a different way. He started to think about a New Babylon, a city that would offer to his citizens a new way of life, a new way to explore the space. Stairs, ladders, open spaces, light… Everything in his mock ups gave the user the possibility to create his own space, his own movements, his own rules. On a certain level, we can say that Constant wanted to give us the possibility to derive. This idea echoes Guy Debord ’s sentence, “One day, people will build cities to derive”.
To my mind, i think that with or without those utopic cities, we already have the possibility to derive. As human beings, we are building our own limits. If we decide to see our everyday life as a playground, if we push ourselves out of our landmarks, out of our comfort, we became the actors of our derive. The main problem of derive is finally how we accept to deal with the notion of freedom, the freedom we are giving to ourselves.

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