“Theory of the Dérive” by Guy Debord provides the reader with insight into the various elements necessary to complete a successful dérive, or drift, in an urban landscape. It explains how one must approach their surroundings in different manners to find a deeper understanding of the world they live in. This theory has been very helpful in the formation my own drift strategies. The ideas in this article are very important to grasp if one wants to get the most out of their drift. I consider it to be the most helpful reading I have come across on the many aspects of the dérive; it explains them, their importance, and provides easy to understand examples.
Debord’s theory has several important points. It is made clear from the beginning that one must separate them self from their typical thoughts and activities, and commit them self completely to observing what is around them. Chance is not of much importance; the surrounding landscape has a personality of its own, waiting to be interacted with. The choice of a spatial field, or an area to drift, is important, but it can as unstructured or specific as one chooses. If there are no set limits, it can be difficult to find a place to begin or end. A dérive can be conducted by one person or by a group of people, directly affecting the multitude of observations made and the ability for comparison with others. Length of a dérive is also variable, lasting anywhere from a moment to months. Different drift forms can yield different experiences; from getting more familiar with something you see every day, to discovering a place for the first time. Finding the correct amount of structure and disorder is important. The dérive is a flexible tool of exploration, and can be very effective when used properly.
Upon reading “Theory of the Dérive,” I gained an understanding of the fundamentals of the dérive and the potential conflicts I might face along the way. Before I learned about this method, I found it difficult to come across inspiration in the places around me. I became overwhelmed by how much was waiting to be encountered, and the search seemed hopeless. I figured that giving myself limits would cause nothing but more problems, but now I know that fostering creativity is nearly impossible without them. Developing drift strategies could be very helpful in finding interesting material to photograph. It allows me the perfect balance of order and chaos that I need to feel productive. I now have a system that I can use to aid in discovering myself and the world that I live in.