In the late 1950s and up until the 1970s the French avant-garde lead by Guy DeBord branched out from Dada and Surreal foundational art theories that took aim at rejecting an elite art world. Instead shifting to a larger focus on culture and politics. Situationist International (SI) in particular adopted psychogeography as method to “experience” the city in an uninterrupted almost dream-like sense of place walking exploration lasting one-day [more specifically the time spent between two sleep cycles as clock time was deemed irrelevant]. Since SI, rooted in Marxism and anarchist ideology, viewed the city as no more than a construction of situations and product of the establishment forcing humans into a mazed network of intersecting nodes (such as public transportation routes) this left large holes in one’s ability to truly experience place or have authentic connections with the ‘real’ environment. Instead, the SI experimented with ideas and tools to liberate one from his/her everyday urban life and the alienation of living in a society of the spectacle (i.e. one driven by mass consumption and media).
You are challenged to embark on your own dèrive, or with a small group of no more than 2 other people by your side. The goal is to travel on foot in an uninterrupted fashion while being fully present in your surroundings (not staring down a phone screen or listening to headphones). Observe the constructed landscape and chance encounters but do not take notes in situ. Instead relying on the significance of sensory memories once you are home from having completed your exercise. While I won’t insist on your location for this assignment I can suggest San Francisco as an ideal setting for this exercise. It is actually much harder than it might seem!