Psychogeography –

  • was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” Another definition is “a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities…just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape.”

 Derive –

  • A dérive is an unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, where an individual travels where the subtle aesthetic contours of the surrounding architecture andgeography subconsciously direct them with the ultimate goal of encountering an entirely new and authentic experience. Situationist theorist Guy Debord defines the dérive as “a mode of experimental behavior linked to the conditions of urban society: a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances.” He also notes that “the term also designates a specific uninterrupted period of dériving.” The term is literally translated into English as drift.

Detournement –

  • Détournement is a technique developed in the 1950s by the Situationist International and consist in “turning expressions of the capitalist system against itself.”
  • In general it can be defined as a variation on a previous media work, in which the newly created one has a meaning that is antagonistic or antithetical to the original. The original media work that is détourned must be somewhat familiar to the target audience, so that it can appreciate the opposition of the new message. The artist or commentator making the variation can reuse only some of the characteristic elements of the originating work.
  • A similar term more familiar to English speakers would be “turnabout” or “derailment”.
  • Guy Debord and Gil J Wolman categorized détourned elements into two types: minor détournements and deceptive détournements.
  • Minor détournements are détournements of elements that in themselves are of no real importance such as a snapshot, a press clipping, an everyday object which draw all their meaning from being placed in a new context.
  • Deceptive détournements are when already significant elements such as a major political or philosophical text, great artwork or work of literature take on new meanings or scope by being placed in a new context.
  • Diversion, rerouting, hijacking, misappropriation, corruption of images etc.

Flaneur –

  • While Baudelaire characterized the flâneur as a “gentleman stroller of city streets”, he saw theflâneur as having a key role in understanding, participating in and portraying the city. Aflâneur thus played a double role in city life and in theory, that is, while remaining a detached observer. This stance, simultaneously part of and apart from, combines sociological, anthropological, literary and historical notions of the relationship between the individual and the greater populace.
  • After the 1848 Revolution in France, after which the empire was reestablished with clearly bourgeois pretensions of “order” and “morals”, Baudelaire began asserting that traditional art was inadequate for the new dynamic complications of modern life. Social and economic changes brought by industrialization demanded that the artist immerse himself in the metropolis and become, in Baudelaire’s phrase, “a botanist of the sidewalk”
  • The concept of the flâneur has also become meaningful in architecture and urban planningdescribing those who are indirectly and unintentionally affected by a particular design they experience only in passing. Walter Benjamin adopted the concept of the urban observer both as an analytical tool and as a lifestyle. From his Marxist standpoint, Benjamin describes theflâneur as a product of modern life and the Industrial Revolution without precedent, a parallel to the advent of the tourist. His flâneur is an uninvolved but highly perceptive bourgeois dilettante. Benjamin became his own prime example, making social and aesthetic observations during long walks through Paris.

Genius loci –

  • In classical Roman religion a genius loci was the protective spirit of a place.
  • In contemporary usage, genius loci usually refers to a location’s distinctive atmosphere, or a “spirit of place”, rather than necessarily a guardian spirit.

The spectacle –

  • A central notion in the Situationist theory developed by Guy Debord. Guy Debord’s 1967 book,The Society of the Spectacle, attempted to provide the Situationist International (SI) with a Marxian critical theory.
  • This was an analysis of the logic of commodities whereby they achieve an ideological autonomy from the process of their production, so that “social action takes the form of the action of objects, which rule the producers instead of being ruled by them.” (Marx, Capital) Developing this analysis of the logic of the commodity, The Society of the Spectacle generally understood society as divided between the passive subject who consumes the spectacle and the reified spectacle itself.
  • The spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living — Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
  • ‘collapse of reality into streams of images, products and activities sanctioned by business and bureaucracy’ – the situationist city


~ by mrtbrown on September 22, 2011.

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