View :: Laika’s Dérive

September 15th 2011



In the category of walks, a dérive is more serious than a stroll, but less intense than an expedition. It is like a treasure hunt where you make up what you’re looking for as you find it. It was invented by French modernist philosophers (mostly Guy Debord) as a way to traverse cities in a way that is open to “moments” of “authentic presence” that cut through the banality of everyday life. It is also something to do with your time that rejects the increasing demand from industrialised capitalsm for productivity.

It might sound a little complex, but the dérive is something that comes naturally to dogs. Our furry companions can teach us a thing or two about using walking as a creative form of self-expression, following little bubbles of curiosity and the pulls of animal desire. Enter Laika’s Dérive (named after it’s creator Sarah Waterson’s dog), a participatory art project for dogs and their owners.

This project documents your dog’s dérive via a customised harness with camera that takes photos of things that rate highly on the dog’s “sniff-o-meter”. Barnaby and I headed to Carriageworks to pick up the kit. It was a tad difficult to fit, so I suggest picking it up first and fitting it at home. Barnaby was pretty good though, like, he knew he was doing something important. I won’t go into all the details and anthropomorphising about what B-man thought of the weird man we met or the dead thing he found. Going over the photos when they were uploaded online I was delighted to relive the walk through B’s perspective and he was delighted to get another treat for being such a good photographer.

"Great use of light and focus on his composition”, according to the project’s facebook page. I always knew he was talented.

What: Laika’s Dérive

Who: Sarah Waterson, presented by Performance Space

Where: Your favourite dog- walking route

When: 15 August- 29 October 2011. The project finale and Best in Show BBQ is on Saturday 5 Nov at 2pm at CarriageWorks

How much: Free! Book a walk through Performance Space


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