Find your Cathedral – blow up the Eiffel Tower

Written by Nora Sophie on . Posted in Drifting

Ivan Chtcheglov at age 22, 1955 The French political theorist, activist and poet Ivan Chtcheglov was following his Ukrainian father as a revolutionary of his time. His father, Vladimir Chtcheglov, was sentenced to two years imprisonment following the 1905 Revolution. After he was released, Vladimir Chtcheglov left the Russian Empire. In 1910, Vladimir and his wife moved to Paris where he worked as a taxi driver. He took part in the 1911 driver strike.

Ivan – the French born son – became as a joung man member of the Situationists International and as such he was the inventor of the dérive (drifting) with his manifesto Formulary for a New Urbanism, before he tried to blow up the Eifel Tower because its reflected light was shining into his attic room and was keeping him awake.

Chtcheglov’s unforgettable line was that ‘dreams spring from reality and are realized in it’. His work was an experiment in the avant-garde. his technique echoes the improvisation that is evident in his working methods.

His text has a wonderful lyrical quality to it.

Movement and mapping in urban space

Written by Lousia Döderlein on . Posted in Drifting

The concept of drifting (dérive) is the wandering around in the urban area and the close observation  and exploration of the effects of the psycho-geographical nature on the residents. Since it also includes the claim of constructive play behavior while exploring, it is opposed to the classical notions of a journey, strolling or a walk in every respect.

1. Drifting Theory of Guy Débord

The french situationist and philosopher Guy Debord (1931-1998) came up with the concept of „derivé“ (which is french for „drift“) because of the situationistic idea of disbanding the borders between poltical action, experimental art and ciritcal theory.

His theory included the idea of Psychogeography, which can be visualized in so called “psychogeographic maps”. The map  is used to discover the principle paths of movement through cities and their pivotal areas.

Guy Débord studied the “dérive” theory primarily in Paris. Throughout his years of work there, he developed his personally psychogeographic map of Paris

This map, pictured below, displays Paris, divided into sections that Debord experienced to be distinct from each other in some way. The space between the sections conveys the mentally-felt distance between the physical areas. The red arrows indicate the most frequently used passages between areas.

Derive 1

The thought behind “dérive” is to analyse our daily habits and daily ways through urban areas. Instead of taking public transportation which wants to transport the people from A to B in the fastest way possible, walking around helps to understand a city in a different and authentic manner.

In a related situationist study by Chombart de Lauwe in 1952, over the course of a year, de Lauwe mapped out all of the movements of a student in Paris’s 16th Arrondissement. The spaces she visits through the year are surprisingly limited, and center on her house, her piano teacher, and her School of Political Sciences. The map de Lauwe made is below. The goal of this study was to reveal “the narrowness of the real Paris in which each individual lives . . . within a geographical area whose radius is extremely small.”

Derive 2

2. Another Way of Mapping the City

Other than the dérive, there are lots of interesting ways of looking at the city. Christian Nold , an artist, teacher and cultural activist who lives and works in London, developed a project he called Bio Mapping. Bio Mapping is a community mapping project that attaches a device that measures emotional arousal to a person, who then walks around the community and their emotional arousal levels are connected with their location to determine which areas are areas of high and low arousal. The goal is to “show the areas that people feel strongly about and truly visualize the social space of a community”.


  • rca

  • rotter

  • Harrow Emotion Map

  • ports
  • Huddersfield Emotion Map
  • Rotterdam Emotion Map
  • Harrow emotion map
  • Portsmouth Emotion Map

The content was written by Jennifer Dens

Dérive App

Written by Lousia Döderlein on . Posted in Drifting


In today´s globalized times, people are often in a rush of getting from A to B. People are even often controlled by their daily habits, which closes off urban experiences that exist around them.

The situationist idea “dérive” is a technique for exploring an urban landscape’s psychogeography and engaging in new experiences by not taking the same ways to work/leisure/home every day.

Influenced by the philosophic idea of drifting around in public spaces, the architect Eduardo Cachucho from Johannesburg invented an app called “Dérive app”, which was created as a platform that allows users to explore their urban spaces in a casual way. It takes the ideals of the Situationists and merges it with digital means in order to create a tool that would imply an exploration of urban space in a random unplanned way as a game.
According to Guy Débord (one of the situationist and the inventor of Dérive), the technique “involves playful constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.”

The app also tries to nudge people who are traped in their repetitive cycle to allow the suggestions and subjectivities of others to enter into their urban existences and find out more about a an alternative guide through a city.

The app should help people to explore cities in a different manner.

For example being a tourist in a foreign city- instead of visiting the mainstream touristical sights as they are written in every guidebook, the app proposes randomly drawn task cards that tell you what to do.

Possible tasks could be:
- Follow a Mini-Bus Taxi
- Move Towards the River
- Take a seat in a park
- Find a Tree

In that manner, the user of the app will explore the public space in a totally different way and as a tourist you will propable learn more about the city, the country, it´s culture and inhabitants by drifting around instead of rushing from one sightseeing point to an other one and getting a superficial overview of the city.

The the dérive app is a tool to get out of the routine or current by experiencing new sights, trying new ways and seeing the city through a different perspective.

Try the app with your favorite browser, of course you need a smartphone or tablet.

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