A dérive juxtaposes an inner narrative against the rules and expectations of a given geography. While a flâneur wanders with the intention of discovery, of observation and aesthetics, a dérive intentionally subverts the narrative flow of a space. Andrew has written a series of posts about dérives in the past. From his overview:
Debord intended the dérive as a Situationist tactic – a psychogeographic strategy for engaging in class struggle and as one of several ways individuals could contend with “the spiritually debilitating modernization of both the private and public spheres of everyday life by economic forces.”
He further described the possibility of a digital dérive:
Twitter is just one example of the type of technology that allows us to occupy multiple locations at once. Taken on a mobile device as one explores a new space, it allows you to explore public place privately among a (different) public. In this way mobile social technologies both defeat and augment the purpose of physicality. They allow us to share more by engaging less. Seen another way, they allow us to engage publicly with private thoughts and allow us to vanquish the notion of objectivity most completely, sharing subjective inner narrative in a completely authoritative manner.
Yesterday, we went to Château d’Oex. The festival we planned to attend was canceled due to poor weather, so we explored and took photos. On the way up, I began a digital dérive. The world we were entering reminded me of Narnia, so I applied that story to our wanderings through a small, Swiss village whenever I found moments of visual serendipity. Here’s the brief dérive in full:
Approaching the White Witch’s lair.
Maugrim lies in wait.
White Witch’s world.
Dérives are playful ways of interacting with space, especially when getting to know a new one. Part of doing a dérive on this particular day trip was that the area was incomprehensibly beautiful and overwhelming, so this was a way to interact with the space and make sense of it. I kept thinking back on the Romantics and their responses to the Swiss landscape, and their writing resonated further.
I also shot some brief video to try to convey the wintry, alpine wilderness — the incommunicable sublime. Imagine being surrounded by this on all sides for as far as you can see.