Visual artist Philippe Parreno describes this book as follows:
An attempt to produce a psycho-geographical map of a subway line. It's a mental construction. An abstraction. The title of the book is from the French word "Dérive". Dérive means "drift". A derive is a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiences in a city described as such by Guy Debord as a "situationist" practice.
The book is certainly abstract, and it is not so much a reading book as a sketchbook. Apparently it represents the underground line that connects Hammersmith to Barking in London, but the meaning of everything is definitely a matter of interpretation by the reader. Certainly travelling through London, where there is a wide variety of places, is a good place to demonstrate a mixture of "varied ambiences".
When reading through this book, I was unsure what to make of it; the first few pictures were all of something that looked like a book with mushrooms growing out of it - the exact meaning of it is left up to the reader to determine; later on, there were a few pictures of a figure wearing a cardboard box on their head and holding a placard; maybe someone that Parreno had seen out of the window of the train? Also, was the sombre-looking face that appears in the middle someone who had been sitting opposite him on a train journey?
Overall, this book was certainly something to get me thinking, but it doesn't exactly take long to look through. It was interesting that some of the double pages contained mostly white space, with only a very small sketch filling them up.
I think this is definitely a book for people who like to be able to think about things, and it definitely would be seen as an acquired taste. However, what I could see what the Philippe Parreno is a talented artist and I enjoyed looking at his sketches.
Next book: Shada (Douglas Adams, Gareth Roberts)