Fran Simó

Traces (personal drifts)

Traces is a series of unplanned walks through urban landscape based on Guy Debord’s Dérive (“Drifts”).

The purpose of the walk is to take pictures, nothing else. It´s always circular: it starts and ends at the same point. It happens within one day. I let my subconscious choose direction. I shoot whenever I see anything that catches my eye, no matter what it is. I don’t look for any correlation to the other series I’m working on but don’t reject it either.

Traces is a meditative practice that explores the relationship between the conscious and the subconscious through photography. A single drift is insufficient. To understand this relationship and its photographic consequences, the experiment must be repeated. Repetition needs rules. The rules force the author to focus on the subconscious and experience drifting.

The seven drifting rules are:

  1. Use a conformable camera. Free body movement is essential.
  2. Choose a day off for the Dérive. The whole day will be dedicated to it.
  3. Go outside and surrender to your intuition; it will guide you through the city. Use a GPS tracker to record your route.
  4. Shoot anytime something grabs your attention.
  5. Don’t get trapped by this image, go on, keep moving.
  6. Follow the process for at least two hours and change direction towards the starting point of the walk.
  7. When you get home, download all the pictures and look at them for 2 seconds per image. Rate and select them without thinking, just by impulse. Repeat the selection until you get 21 photographs.


Some time ago I saw Stephen Shore´s interview with Phaidon Press about The Book of Books. The idea of making a book in one day, from taking pictures to having a copy “on the way”, really captivated me. Since 2003, I’ve been practicing Dérive as a method for taking pictures. I’m not very sure when “all the dots get connected” in a project, but on February 14, 2013, I went out with a camera and surrendered to my subconscious. That day I wrote the rules.

As collective drifts

I started Traces as a personal project but soon decided to experiment with it in a collective way. I opened it to collaboration by looking for 6 more authors to portrait Barcelona. The collective project was exhibited in Barcelona at Galeria Tagomago in May 2014.