"The Naked City"

A psychogeographical map by Guy Debord.

One very tangible expression of psychogeographical studies, were the series of maps of Paris which Debord produced in the late 1950's and which were shown in "The First Psychogeographic Exhibition" ("Première exposition de psychgéographie") in 1957. These maps, derived from Debord's psychogeographic studies, were produced through the process of 'détournement' ('the integration of past or present artistic production into a superior environmental construction') in which fragments of existing works are taken and rearranged or juxtaposed to produce new meanings. According to Pinder (1996), the production of these maps represented an:

...attempt to disrupt existing representations and convey different visions of the city. Rather than being entirely new products, his psychogeographic maps were thus modified or 'improved' versions of ordinary maps (p.419)

Although conventional maps convey a certain abstract, geometric kind of 'truth' about the urban environment, the psychogeographical maps were supposed to convey a social, experiential or existential 'truth'. The maps show an experience of space as fragmented and discontinuous; areas which are experienced as distinct are pulled apart on the map. However, the arrows serve to relate the different areas and are based on the forces of attraction and repulsion or exclusion experienced in the course of the dérive.

So, Debord's maps simultaneously deconstruct conventional cartographic maps (both literally and figuratively), and provide a graphic expression of the psychogeographical surveys.

[Return to "The Theory of the Dérive"]