M Derive: Project Proposal

M Derive: A Psychogeographical Project Proposal

Last year I participated in a short derive organised by 1st year Fine Arts students. It stood out as one of the highlights of the Unit X section of the year. In the back of my mind, ever since that event, I have had the idea to explore and research more fully the notion of the derive, and in particular to take on the practice of the derive in the city of Manchester. A lot of current British psychogeographical writing is centred on London (although Ian Sinclair has done work in Manchester). So my project title ‘M Derive’ refers to Manchester. I’m considering researching derives in the different postal areas of Manchester. So the body of work could be an ongoing process: M1 Derive, M2 Derive etc.

DIY Derive 2012


I intend to explore the idea that Psychogeography has a two-fold nature – one linking to the Romantic literary tradition (Blake, Defoe, DeQuincy, Baulelaire, Rimbaud, Alfred Watkins etc); the other linking to the Political/philosophical interventionist remit (Debord, Raoul Vaneigem and Situationist International). But I particularly want to read some of the more contemporary writers on the subject: Ian Sinclair, Merlin Coverley etc. Also I intend to study Patrick Keiller’s ‘Robinson’ films.

It strikes me that the split in approach is interesting and raises good questions. What is the purpose of psychogeography? To stimulate a subjective poetic re-visioning of the city, to transform individual perceptions of the urban landscape? Or to transform society through radical intervention and disruption of habitual oppressive patterns? Is the derive a game of fantasy or an act of realism?


The practice based aspect will be in the actual establishment of a personal derive practice. This will include:

a) Defining the ground. Choosing geographical boundaries. Possibly using Manchester Postal codes as a parameter. But at least considering methods of approaching the geographical field early on in the project. Initial map research.

b) Walking the ground. (I have some guided walks by Ian Sinclair which I might use as a starter).

c) Recording the field using camera, drawing, video, audio, writing.

d) Collecting from the field – found objects and items

e) Use of found objects, writings, and images as documentation and as material for further modification, display, installation.

f) Proposed outcomes to include Blog record, exhibitions of research and made objects, printed book using online publishing, a talk/presentation of findings, an organised derive for others.

4 thoughts on “M Derive: Project Proposal

  1. Hello,
    We are currently working on some projects similar to this one, and possibly an application that would allow people to take pictures of their walk/objects and interact with the experiences of others on their guided walk as well. Would you be interested in doing a guest post for Envelope Atlanta about your experience with the derive, what materials you needed, etc? our email address is envelopeatlanta@gmail.com and our site freshly moved to http://www.envelopeatlanta.com

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