How a Situationist "Draws"
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 07-14-11
A New Da Vinci
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British architecture student Ji Soo Han recently made a "Situationist Drawing Device (shown below)" What exactly does this mean?

Situationism, the brainchild of expressionist painter Asger Jorn and filmmaker Guy Debord (both accomplished theorists and provocateurs), was in many ways the last stage of an avant-garde progression that began with Dada. Feeling that Surrealist work had been coopted by the bourgeoisie and turned into a commodified style (while Dada was simply unable to gain political traction), the Situationists in the late 50's forswore making art as such (though Jorn continued in fact to paint wild, semi-figurative canvases). Instead they focused their sights on the urban landscape, plotting to evade its functionalist destiny through disruptive cartographic production and a variety of tactics designed to restore free play, fantasy and mythic discovery to the modern experience (while avoiding the unconscious determinism of which they accused the surrealists). Derive, or the art of intentional wandering through the city, was a major pillar of Situationist practice.

Soo Han's work in general employs novel technologies, digital and otherwise, to explore and transcribe the relationships between humans and their local environments; the Rube-Goldberg-like Situationist Drawing Device is supposed to both refashion the pedestrian's perceptual encounters and serve as a "choreographic" record of their movements. Strangely enough, the Situationists might have found the prosthesis redundant: for them (as for the writer Michel De Certeau) the traversing of the city was itself the "drawing," and the subjective transformation of the city engendered by selective path-taking was its own record, its own "inscription."

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