Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Dérive and street photography

"One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive, a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiences. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll." - Guy Debord (Theory of the Dérive, 1958)
I stumbled upon this word by reading a book about the your rights to be idle and non-productive. The author mentioned an art movement (if you can call it like that) known under the name "Situationist International".

"Essential to situationist theory was the concept of the spectacle, a unified critique of advanced capitalism of which a primary concern was the progressively increasing tendency towards the expression and mediation of social relations through objects. The situationists believed that the shift from individual expression through directly lived experiences, or the first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires, to individual expression by proxy through the exchange or consumption of commodities, or passive second-hand alienation, inflicted significant and far-reaching damage to the quality of human life for both individuals and society. Another important concept of situationist theory was the primary means of counteracting the spectacle; the construction of situations, moments of life deliberately constructed for the purpose of reawakening and pursuing authentic desires, experiencing the feeling of life and adventure, and the liberation of everyday life" (Wikipedia)

They propagated the randomness of exploring a modern urban environment by using a dice and take notes in every way you can without following a given path. After I dived deeper into the underlying theories behind the collective I found some similarities to my favorite style of photography.

I love to run around without a destination

One thing I really love about street photography is that you are running around with no real destination. Sometimes I find myself in strange places like backyards, behind escalators, dead roads or on top of something looking for...whatever...I don't know. Photography forces you to think about different views in any way and anyhow. It becomes a mix between meditation and reaction. I follow something that looks interesting but it randomly appeared to you out of the blue. It was not planned to go there or do a certain thing, but when it's there you have to react and document it with my camera.

Sometimes it ends up in a situation or place you never thought of and it is all for free, you don't even need a camera to experience that. The camera is your note taking tool. It cuts slices out of the Dérive and creates an image of how I saw the scene at this unique moment. I created an interpretation of the whole thing that happened in front of my camera. Maybe you also want to write something down in a little notebook or do some audio and video to store your impressions. By this you are connecting to dots and become "playful constructive" like Debord wrote on top of this article.

"In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there... But the dérive includes both this letting go and its necessary contradiction: the domination of psychogeographical variations by the knowledge and calculation of their possibilities." - Ken Knabb

Think out of the box

Inspiration is not limited to one topic only. When you're a photographer there are tons of great ideas and inspirations waiting for you by reading books, watching movies or just exploring nature. That whole "Dérive" thing gave me new impulses to explore urban environments with even more randomness and a awareness of the psychogeographical effects.

You find the full article about Dérive (written by Debord) here. Enjoy the spectacle!

I could be a nice idea to organize a Dérive in Hamburg some day. Because the experience should grow in small groups up to five people taking notes. What do you thing about this? What does it mean for you to drift?



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