Psychgeography: what is it?
“The study of the specific effects of the geographical environment”
My feelings on psychogeography are that we all do it. We all take photos when we visit somewhere new, collect ephemera from a train journey or document places in journals etc…We often record our surroundings, new places we visit or journeys we take without even thinking about it.
In the psychogeography lecture we were introduced to the “Flaneur” – meaning “stroller” or “loafer”. These words often have a negative connotation of being slow, lazy, or avoiding work. The feeling of a Flaneur, was resistance / defiance to normal living. They spent their days wondering the streets, observing life from the outside.
Looking at artists as Flaneurs, and how the lifestyle of a Flaneur can influence artwork, we came across Francis Alys and his recording of an action. He pushed a block of ice around Mexico City until he was only left with a small puddle of water. I really liked this idea of psychogeograpgy, not only did he map his route around Mexico City but the action was ephemeral. It only lasts as long as the water does. Once the water has evaporated, so has his action. The only proof he has of the event is the photographs.
Alys, F. Paradox Of Praxis 1. 1997. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.
Ivan Chtcheglov created a map of the 16th Arrondissement of Paris. He mapped the journey of a young student for a year – mapping her movements between school, home and her piano teachers house. These repetitive lines were placed over each other and layered over a map which creates a very sketchy interesting display of lines. The piece is not only visually appealing but also informative. I find his work inspiring and something that I would like to attempt in my own practice.
Chtcheglov, I. 16th Arronndissement. 1998. Web. 17 Oct. 2016
The Rough Guide Project (mapping an area of London) and Psychogeography go hand in hand. At the end of this lecture we were introduced to the (rough guide) integrated task. This was an area specific task which was to be completed to round off both the psychogeography lecture and the Rough Guide project. Our task was to return to Berwick Street Market and read an excerpt by Thomas Burke (he was writing about Berwick Street in 1922). We were then to make a response to what he had said, looking at the comparisons between then and now. Some things had not changed – there were still Greek and Mediterranean influences (food), vegetables were still being sold in the market and Jesse Matthews (who Burke mentioned in his writings) was remembered as coming from Berwick Street. Things that had changed were the buildings; the contrast of new and old. As well as the types of businesses available – companies who deal with video and technology would not have existed in the 1920’s. For my response, I took photos, notes, rubbings and collected street detritus and placed them in my sketchbook.
The lecture on Psychogeography made me think more carefully about why I record the way I do. Why do I take photos, drawings and rubbings of the things I do. Why do certain things interest me more than others. The lecture also taught me to be more aware of my surroundings and look for the detail / inspiration in everything (how can I record the pattern / colour / texture of an object successfully?).