Situationist International, an avant-garde group of artists and ultra-leftist political theorists, shaped concepts on urbanism outlining principles of how the modern city could be pieced together, paying close attention to the interweaving potentials of localities. There ideas dealt with the issues of the superficial distractions of billboarded capitalism, and the charmless rationality that modernism had become.
From a personal perspective the Situationists to me are fundamental to the realisation of the need for the presence of art, expression and experience in the modern day environment. They were pioneers in delivering the cutting notion that something had gone terribly wrong at the heart of modern culture, the homogeneity of our environments and an intensifying boredom with the sameness of repetitive, rigid everyday experience. The plot to overthrow “the society of the spectacle” was effectively driven home with a message of not arguing with people, instead, provide them with spaces in which to live to the greater potential of living a genuine human existence.
The Situationists promoted citizens to take a different view on the city and look at their environment from a new perspective. Their goal was to establish the basis for an experimental life where people would generate their own experience, coming together to mold their own lives with the opportunity for real experience.
“One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.”
The Theory of the Derive – Guy Debord,