Friday, February 20th, 2015


Bibliodérive is the application of the Situationist International practice of the dérive or “drift” reapplied to the realm of research, libraries and archives.

The Flaxman Library bibliodérive is a collection of generative, open-ended actions, or situations, taken to destabilize research practices geared towards an expected product or outcome, the gathering of information to merely support extant ideas and thought structures. It is a disruption in the traditional use value assigned to the library, the archive, to information storage and even to the very concept of research itself.

This Bibliodérive was held on Friday, February 20th, 2015, with the Flaxman Library as its central location. This interactive, participatory, all day event was open to all SAIC students, faculty and staff. Whether individually or in an organized group, participants were invited to engage with the library’s collections, architecture and community.



The Situationist International Explained
A Brief but Enlightening Noontime Lecture by Simon Anderson

F Newsmagazine Archives Drift
Troy Piper

opera! a hopes Choir
Luis Mejico with Amanda Assaley & Lorén Ibach

Adam Webster

Dream Currencies
Jeremy Biles & the Dream Logics Seminar

7 Minutes in Research Heaven
Tim Parsons, Dan Price & the Thing Lab class; Jessica Charlesworth & the Ways of Futuring class

I Ching, the Classic of Changes-dérive
Christian Sheppard

Le Miroir d’Or
Tom Hack


Participation took two main forms:

1. Situations were proposed by members of the SAIC community.

2. Dérive “prompts" were added to the Flaxman Library Bibliodérive Deck.

Table Of Contents


The Flaxman Library Bibliodérive Deck
Friday: 9:00am - 5:00pm drop in anytime, 6th floor Sharp

The Flaxman Library Bibliodérive Deck is a set of prompts aimed for engaging with the library’s collections, exploring non-traditional research and the physicality of the library itself. The Deck of prompts will be available to 
dérivists for use on 2.20.2015. Prior to the bibliodérive, we are collecting prompts from the SAIC community. Please add your prompt to our deck using this link. The completed Deck will be archived in the library and will be shared online.

Adrift in the Archives
Friday: 9:00am - 5:00pm drop in anytime, 508 Sharp

Flaxman Library Special Collections will provide you with an array of unexplored objects, drawings, photographs and texts from our archives. They beg for your interpretation! Choose one or more and sing it, paint it, write it a love letter, use it as a short story prompt, perform (with) it, animate it. Reveal its hidden secrets in your own ways and translate them. All interpretations will be shared online as an alternative finding aid to help future users navigate the treacherous waters of archival research.

Le Miroir d’Or
Friday: 10:00am - 4:00pm
, 6th floor sharp

Inspired by the psychological phenomenon of the “looking glass self,” this interactive installation is a psychological dérive in which a mirror-less mirror becomes a door through which viewers, two at a time, may enter a space of contemplation and perhaps leave an older self behind. A golden mirror frame is affixed to a table. On either side are two chairs and two stacks of paper. One stack has questions each participant must answer how one perceives oneself. The second stack, about the participant perceives the person on the other side of the mirror. Participants are encouraged to swap papers from the second stack.

VDB Dérive
Friday: 10:00am - 5:00pm drop in anytime (VDB staff available from 10am - 12noon), 602 Sharp

Video Data Bank has produced over 500 unique artist interviews recorded at SAIC between 1976 and today, the On Art & Artists Collection. While these interviews are typically used as subject-specific research documents on particular artists, they are not typically considered as artistic texts in and of themselves. How would we engage differently in an artists’ self presentation if we privileged their words over biography and accomplishment? What might we find if we allowed ourselves to consider these interviews out of sync and out of context?

1. Choose an unmarked disc and play it.
2. Fast forward to a title sequence that catches you.
3. Watch and find a phrase worth repeating.
4. Write it down on the erase board for others without attribution. 

I Ching, the Classic of Changes-dérive
Friday: 10:30am - 2:30pm drop in anytime, 6th floor Sharp, SW corner and Room 603

Go to the tea area (SW corner behind the current magazines) for a cup of green tea. There formulate a question, a specific question or a general question, about your future, how to proceed with your life. Ask, trusting the oracle’s answer will be true. Write your question on the side of your empty tea cup. Go to la chambre du spectacle (603 Sharp), where you will undergo an ordeal of images, sounds, and words and thereby generate the six lines, the two trigrams, that will comprise your hexagram. Write your hexagram on the bottom of your cup. Return to the tea area, have another cup of green tea. Consult the I Ching: The Classic of Changes for your answer. Leave the library. Change your life

To, to, to, to, to…Dedications from (to) the Flaxman Library
Friday: 11:00am - 12:00pm, 6th Floor Sharp

Books are full of so many people, most of whom are absent. Why is it that so many writers are inclined to couch an incredibly specific and private moment inside of an ultimately public gesture? My father dedicated his book Prologue to a Farce: Communication and Democracy in America to me. “To Kelly, who gives me hope.” I will go through as many books as possible from 11:00am - 12:00pm looking for dedications. I will scan those that I find and at noon collect them all together, print them and form them into a packet of one dedication after another. To, to, to, to, to… If you would like to share a dedication that you find, please email with a scan of the dedication page and the title of the book in the subject line by 12:00pm.

The Situationist International Explained: A Brief but Enlightening Noontime Lecture by Simon Anderson
Friday: 12:15pm - 12:45pm, 6th floor Sharp, library front desk

Simon Anderson will present a short but illuminating talk during the lunch hour addressing the histories and philosophies of the Situationist International at the front desk of the John M Flaxman Library. If you’ve ever wondered what Guy Debord meant by dérive, the spectacle, or psychogeography (or if you haven’t, but maybe do now) you are welcome to join and digest these ideas with your fellow bibliodérivers and research-enthusiasts. Coffee and conversation to follow.

opera! a hopes Choir
Friday: 12:00pm - 5:00pm performances on the hour, 6th floor Sharp, study table

Four performers sit at one of the 4-person study desks in the library each with a laptop, an encyclopedia, and a sheet of paper containing a pre-selected random phrase. The performers will “research” words from their phrase using the encyclopedias. They will type their findings into a document on the laptops. Occasionally, performers will read aloud text; if two or more performers speak at once, they get up from their seats and switch spots. There will also be timed seat changes, every 5 minutes, where all performers switch. After 20 minutes, the performers print their document, leave it on the table, and exit. While the performers are away from the tables, the SAIC community has the opportunity to erase, add, and alter the text. Upon returning at the beginning of the next hour, performers use this text for their next encyclopedic search. The process repeats until 5pm.

7 Minutes in Research Heaven
Friday: 1:00pm - 4:00pm, 613 Sharp

A partnership between two classes: THING LAB and WAYS OF FUTURING. The students of these two classes have been invited to a dimly-lit cafe for a speed-dating research soiree. Students are paired with each other over fake candlelight to elevator pitch their research practices, to swap research topics for 7 minutes. Special dérive research-aids have been created to help them lose their way in the library, to find new ways of seeing, to see new ways of finding. These students will return to their partners with the artifacts of their quick, creative research, swap finds, then swap partners and do it all over again.

F Newsmagazine Archives Drift
Friday: 2:00pm - 5:00pm, 6th floor Sharp, tables along the windows, Monroe Street side

1.Go to the tables where F Newsmagazine’s archive is laid out. 
2.Choose an issue from the month you were born in a year of your choice.
3.Open to the first review of a work of art in any medium and choose the first noun in the third paragraph.
4. Go to or to search for that noun in F Newsmagazine and choose the third issue of F that pops up.

Friday: 4:00pm - 5:00pm, 6th floor Sharp lobby

Using a flowchart of the Dewey Decimal categories/subcategories and classic/iconic literature titles, Adam Webster, MFAW, will lead participants through audibly dissecting & categorizing the canon in real time in this durational participatory performative installation. Systematically breaking literature down to its iconic, thematic cores, to the umpteenth decimal place.

Dream Currencies

Tuesday, 2/24: 9:45am - 11:45am, Sharp Building Elevator

An analytic couch modeled after Freud’s is situated in one of the elevators in the Sharp building. A divider separates this “clinical” area from the public. Each student provides a written description of a dream. These texts are randomly and anonymously distributed among the students, though with care taken not to allow any student to end up with his or her own dream. Each student plays an “analysand,” lying on the couch, free associating on the elements of the dream text. Meanwhile, another student, playing “analyst,” records the associations of the recumbent student. Once the elevator has made several ascents and descents, the analyst exits on the sixth floor to locate resources having to do with the ideas/images that the analysand has produced. The analyst uses this research as the basis of a creative interpretation of the dream, to be presented as a gift to the student who originally wrote the dream.


See video documentation

View a Flickr stream from the event. 

See #biblioderive on Instagram.

Browse responses to Adrift in the Archives in the Archive as Artistic Practice database.




“Bibliodérive ,” SAIC Flaxman Library & Special Collection Exhibitions, accessed August 17, 2019,