All cities have certain attributes connected with them. There always are certain things that pull us towards them. What these things are and how much we are attracted to them depends mostly on who we are and why we are in some particular city. We can be tourists, students studying there, local residents or people who work there. We can be workers who take care of the city or we can be burglars or thieves who are there just to profit from others in it. Each one of those roles has a list of certain things that we’re expected to do while there. Tourists are expected to visit the city centre, check out famous shops and take pictures of various well-known monuments. Meanwhile, thieves are expected to be as invisible as they can, while at the same time being where concentration of people is highest. Commuters going to work are expected to just rush past the crowds towards their destination, without staying in one place too long, because the commute itself is not their objective. It’s completely opposite of what tourists are, because tourists are expected to stop by each interesting spot and spend some time everywhere, without having a pre-set destination and objective.
In this way, each city defines where each group of people will move. Commuters will rush towards train stations or office buildings, while tourists will slowly move towards the main monuments in the city centre. Derive literally means “to drift”, to see unusual parts of the space, find out something that is not supposed to be found out by us. For tourists it would be drifting towards the back alleys, forgotten squares or parks, finding places which were not designed for tourists.
There are five types of derive that we are planning to try out while in Venice:
1. The ‘classic’ dérive
2. The Treasure Hunt
3. The Wrong Map
4. Random Directions
5. The Blindfolded Guide
1. Classic derive is literally drifting about the city without any predetermined location and recording the experience. It can be recorded using photographs, video, sound recordings, notes.
2. Treasure hunt involves at least two teams, where they have to race against each other and the clock to complete certain tasks. This can be finding a certain building, buying some unique product or locating various clues in order to solve some puzzle. This might not be an option for us because we don’t have enough members going to Venice and won’t be able to form two groups for the task.
3. This is fairly simple, it involves taking a map of another city (for example, Paris) and using it as if it was map of Venice. Then the group has to follow the map from a side of the city towards the Eiffel tower. Obviously, there is no Eiffel tower in Venice, which is why it would most likely lead us to a new and not much visited part of the city.
4. The group has to write down a list of directions before starting the journey, which would be fairly simple, for example: Turn left, go straight ahead until you pass by a souvenir shop, then turn right. Go along the right side of the street and turn right again after you pass house No. 17. This again would lead us to a yet another unseen place of Venice.
5. In this task one member of the group is literally blindfolded and taken to an unknown location in the city. The blindfold is then removed and the guide has to locate a monument or some well-known place, without using a map and without knowing where s/he has started. Other members of the team must follow the guide without asking or suggesting anything.
The reason why everyone is encouraged to partake in at least one of these derives is because it’s both a fun and interesting way to discover the city. The mystery of the unknown is what results in many interesting discoveries.