Exercise: Dérive or Drifting

Guy Debord (1931-1994), a situationist, defined the concept of the ‘Dérive’ as explicitly opposed to and ‘different from the classic notions of journey or stroll’ (flânerie). However, both the flâneur and the person on the dérive move among the crowd without being one with it. The dérive is distinguished from flânerie primarily by its critical attitude toward modernity and markers of privilege such as class, gender, race, sexuality, etc.

The participants of a Dérive must ‘let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor from a dérive point-of-view because cities have fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.’ This phrasing has connotations of the scientific explorer, almost of the military strategist.

For this assignment, you will take a dérive through [_____].

Considering the critical stance of the dérive, go for a walk and record where you feel drawn to certain places and repelled by others. Why might you be experiencing those emotions and behaviors? How did the architecture, topography, and space affect your experience? How does that relate to class, gender, race, ability, and other markers of identity? How could you imagine a better experience of the route you walked?

Compare and contrast how your dérive was different from your flânerie.