Physical dislocation. Temporal dislocation. Psychological dislocation. All easily accomplished on a macro scale if one boards a plane and travels to the other side of the world, or even if one hops in a taxi and ventures to the other side of the city.

Nation-states, municipal boundaries, unofficial neighbourhood delineations. Planes, trains and automobiles. Such blunt instruments, though, for detecting the flows and rhythms of the everyday and its micro scales of sociability. The psychogeographical project of the Situationists was just such an attempt to refine and recalibrate our tools for perceiving location and dislocation — for understanding ambience — particularly as our awareness of the spatiotemporal environment (as politics) has increased (and the stakes have gotten higher).

Every new visioning technology invented pushes the vectors of perception forward, and so we discover new stars in the nether reaches of the universe or new particles of matter at the subatomic level. And while we haven't yet exhausted the potential of closer interstellar objects or larger-scale particles, the insights they have already provided point us in new directions for investigation.

We should understand the Situationist dérive in similar terms. While it is true that the broader aims of psychogeography in general and the dérive in particular have not been fully realized (because the sociopolitical terrain has shifted underneath, as much as any other reason), they suggest new tools for affectively understanding beyond the micro to what could be considered the nano scale of the social.

Gait surfing can be considered an attempt to refashion psychogeography at the scale of nanosociability. An engagement of the vibrations and resonances with other bodies, experienced by walking in what we consider the liminal space between public and private. While the spatial field of gait surfing experience is much smaller at any given moment and thus is more intensely bodily, it is also temporally far more dynamic with each step and thus requires a more precise calibration or attunement to affect in order to be detected.

And while the lessons drawn from the dérive enabled a greater understanding of the macropolitics of the city for the Situationists, so perhaps the nanosociability of the gait surf can offer insights into the micropolitics of the lived everyday.


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  1. sportsBabel » Marginal Notes on Notes on Gesture says:

    [...] It is gait that provided the basis for some of Muybridge and Marey's early cinematic works, but is also the foundational human movement that has driven most innovations in biomechanical measurement during the past century, from stroboscopic photography to force plate analysis to high-speed videography. As Francesco Careri suggests, walking is the "first aesthetic act" of humans in that it assumes a "symbolic form" shaping our very being in the world and our relationships to landscape and architecture. Gait is integral to this symbolic form and thus integral to our built environment both real and virtual. While Careri argues convincingly that the built environment of humans emerges from nomadic walking peoples, eventually it comes to mark the character of the sedentary city in both material and immaterial fashion: the polis and the walking subject enter biunivocal relations of naming the other. Walking is not simply an aesthetic act, then, but a political one as well. [...]