Exercise: Flânerie (To be a Flâneur/Flâneuse)


The ‘Flâneur’/‘Flâneuse’ (‘roamer’ or ‘wanderer’) is a person who strolls the city in order to experience it, as a detached, gently cynical observer. There is an idleness attached to flânerie. The flâneur is a passive figure, they observe the dynamics of the city from a disengaged point of view. While the idea originated with Charles Baudelaire, it was Walter Benjamin who popularized it and connected it to the idea of escaping capitalist control.

The Surrealist version of the flâneur was to devise experiments involving randomness and chance in order to experience the city without being blinded by mundanity. For example, follow interesting strangers across the city, or visit a city while guiding oneself using the map of another city, or draw a circle on a map and try to walk as accurately as possible along the circumference.

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For this assignment, you will take on the role of a Flâneur by walking around the city as an observer. Develop one random principle to guide your walk (obviously, stay safe). Walk for at least 15 minutes. After your walk, record your observations. Documentation could take many forms: writing, photos, video, collected objects, audio, etc. Please upload your observations/documentation to the discussion board and feel free to respond to others.

This list of words might help inspire your random principle to guide your walk.