Saturday, 23 April 2016

Particulations - Guest Blogs


Here are a list of the psychogeography-related guest blogs for 2016, in order of most recent. If you would like to write a guest blog yourself, please get in touch with me at the contact page here. Thank you.

Come, Stravage With Me
by Scriber Punk
A discussion on the term 'stravage' in the context of Arthur Machen and other 'old school' psychogeographers.

Why You Should Be Aware of the High Voltage Electricty Pylons
by Mark Reeve
Fact, history and myth about our favourite giant electrical urban phenomenon.

Manchester: One City With Many Names and Histories
by Basak Tanulku
The experiences of living in Manchester from a visiting academic.

'God Knows Who Made Elephants' (Rudyard Kipling)
by Roger Boyle and Jeremai Smith
A look at the art deco designs by the British architect Montague Burton.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Come, Stravage With Me


by Scriberpunk

"What was the word I used this morning?"
"You used a lot of words this morning. It was like a fucking Will Self lecture."
(The Thick of It, BBC 2)

I am new to life here in PsyGestan, the land of psychogeography. Like any immigrant to a new country one of the first things you need to do is learn the lingo. And something you notice early on is that there are a lot of words for walking. Psychogeography turns one of those awful pieces of management speak on its head and, instead of encouraging you to ’Walk the Talk’, demands that you ‘Talk the Walk’. Here in Psygestan there are as many words for walk as the Eskimo allegedly has for snow and the Manchunian actually has for rain.

But, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, psychocartographers, mythogeographers, and schizocartographers, I want to champion an underused one: Stravage. As used by Arthur Machen back in the 1890s:
The fact was that one grey Sunday afternoon in the March of that year, I went for a long walk with a friend. I was living in Gray's Inn in those days, and we stravaged up Gray's Inn Road on one of those queer, unscientific explorations of the odd corners of London in which I have always delighted.
(A Fragment of Life, Arthur Machen)
Stravage, verb (used without object). Scot., Irish, and North England. To wander aimlessly.

I think that’s a great word. A cross between stroll and ravage, it contains elements of both strange and vague. They say it is probably a shortening of the word ‘extravagate’, which means stray or roam but can also mean "to go beyond proper limits".

So my definition of stravage is: To roam without limits, aimlessly.

Once I found the word in Machen I went looking for where else it was used, and found it used by T.E. Lawrence:
…if you still stravage the roads of England in a great car.
(That is exactly what you should be doing to the roads of England, isn’t it? Stravaging them in a great car.)

…and in this, from Judge Ferdinand Francis Fernandez of California:
Moreover, the statute speaks with enough clarity to permit (nay require) one to stop with its own words, rather than undertaking to stravage in a wilderness of possible legislative purposes.
…but that was pretty much it, as far as Google was concerned.

Well it’s just not good enough. Stravage is a word that demands to be used more!

Not just going forward. Oh, no. In the great tradition of psychogeography, it needs to be retrospectively inserted into appropriate works. Edward Hyde should be seen stravaging the streets of Soho at night, Quasimodo should dream of being free to stravage around Notre Dame, and John Cooper Clarke should write of a stravage down Beasley Street. A film of Travis Bickle’s stravages through New York must be made. A bi-monthly magazine called Stravage, written in French, must be unearthed from the nineteen-fifties. A Blake engraving of an angel stravaging with a lamb in Westminster should be discovered, Thomas de Quincey’s article on drug-fuelled stravages on Oxford Street has to be re-published, and Defoe’s tale of a down-and-out pickpocket stravaging the streets of a plague filled London must be re-printed. A Baudelaire poem about a Parisian prostitute he met on a drunken stravage should be rediscovered.

The word, the idea, the very theory of the Stravage must be inserted wherever possible into the past in order to ensure it has a future.

Come, stravage with me!

Bio: Scriberpunk is a man of mystery. What that means is he can’t be arsed writing a biography. His on-line footprint is given in this blog post.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Urban Gerbil Publications - Catalogue


Urban Gerbil Publications is a small production, not-for-profit press that specialises in the field of urban aesthetics/semiology, psychogeography, walking practices, space and place, the city, and urban life. Formats and types of publications include: zines, artist’s books, poetry, fiction/non-fiction/creative non-fiction, grassroots academic articles, newsletters, magazines and maps. Below is a list of the current catalogue.

S T E P Z: Between the Rollerama and the Junk Yard (Summer 2016)
This is a special edition for the ‘Loitering With Intent’ exhibition at the People’s History Museum in Manchester. The psychogeography zine (see details on the first edition below) will appear alongside accompanying artwork and is inspired by the lyrics of the Mancunian punk poet John Cooper Clarke. The academic and psychogeographer, Tina Richardson, and the artist and psychogeographer, Ally Standing, have produced and edited a zine that concentrates on Manchester and Northern Psychogeography, but also represents urban walking today in its broader categorisation. The zine combines written pieces with visual elements such as photography, illustration and collage and is produced on a Risograph machine, creating a unique and vibrant aesthetic, which calls to mind a time before digital, making it an ideal method of printing for the zine.
 
TwentySix Psychogeography Stations (2015)


This artist’s book by Darrant Hinisco is based on the famous artist’s book by Ed Ruscha TwentySix Gasoline Stations (a truly psychogeographical artist’s book), and it faithfully follows its format and style. This is what Darrant Hinisco says about the book in the preface:
"This artist’s book is a collaboration with my publisher, Tina Richardson. Between us we have curated this set of photographs from my own collection, mostly from my travels in the United Kingdom and United States. The photos included herein are a response to the psychogeographical phenomena known as ‘perambulatory hinges’ or, how I have termed them here, psychogeography stations."
You can read a review about it here and click here if you would like to acquire a copy.

S T E P Z: A Psychogeography and Urban Aesthetics Zine (2015)

This is the first text in the Urban Gerbil Publications catalogue. S T E P Z is a zine for and by those interested in psychogeography and in critiquing, appreciating and debating urban space. It does not have the strict editorial rules applied to it that would be the case in an academic article, textbook or novel. It is, what you might call, ‘editorially restrained’ and is the brainchild of the psychogeographer Tina Richardson. This pilot edition includes contributions from both professional and creative writers. Within a few months of release the zine was on an undergraduate course reading list in the United States. Click here for further information and for how to acquire a copy.

Particulations Press
Particulations Press preceded Urban Gerbil Publications. The first publication in this series was Concrete, Crows and Calluses (2013) by Tina Richardson. Following this book was a music series published under Particulations Press/Urban Gerbil Publications called psy(co)motion. A book chapter on this psychogeography-related music series will appear in an upcoming academic textbook on Non-Representational Theory and the Creative Arts (2017).

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Why You Should Beware of the High-Voltage Electricity Pylons




by Mark Reeve

1) There's hardly any detailed official documentation published about their early history, even from their keeper, the National Grid, an organisation that is also evasive in other possibly relevant matters, e.g. they state that "the very first [National Grid] annual report published in 1926" is on their website, but it isn't.

2) They look like overbearing stick-people guarding a magic force, and/or the giant steel skeletons of laser-skinned robots after an apocalyptic interplanetary war, and/or terrible trojan-horse-like wicker men filled with nothing but the ominous buzzing of the Old Ones.

3) If you're drunk, stoned or otherwise altered enough you can see pentagrams in them (some actually have pentagrams built in their framework).

4) There's now about 88,000 of these silver fiends lurking out there, and if the cosmic alignments are right and they get enough electricity they might come alive Frankenstein Monster-style then go on the rampage, or at least zap and fry the occasional passer-by and get away with it, the incidents attributed to freak lightning strikes. (This unconscious terror surfaced in 1991 when pylons did become sentient then uprooted themselves to clomp across the British countryside with moon-cold logic in a National Power TV advert.)

5) In the late-1920s the architectural luminary Sir Reginald Blomfield collaborated on the first standard tower design submitted by Milliken Brothers. (The National Grid website incorrectly says he was brought in in 1931.) Although they could have been constructed in almost any shape and would have still functioned the same, he based their design on, and named them after, the 'pylon': a tapering gatewayto ancient Egyptian temples. Blomfield was an established Establishment figure (a member of the Royal Academy, etc.) and took commissions from prominent Freemasons, so was probably one of the Brotherhood himself. The final shape merged the two elements of the ancient Egyptian pylon into a single one like an obelisk. The Freemasons have always had a thing for these phallic pillars and have been erecting them all over the UK (often as war memorials) both before and after their high-voltage counterparts.

Blomfield may also have been aware that "pylons" form part of the Enochian magical system, that enables contact with angelic and demonic beings (see 'The Cry of the 12th Aethyr, Which is Called LOE', in Aleister Crowley's The Vision & the Voice, first published in 1911). This has prompted some occult conspiracy researchers to posit that electricity pylons have a secret function as a network of constantly empowered doorways to Otherwhere and its denizens. In theory, a magical spell cast from a power station into this network, that reaches almost every home in Britain, would be highly effective. (Note that the Satanic Temple of Set operate a number of "Pylons" that function as recruitment funnels, and six [the biblical number of wo/man] of the new T-Pylons began to be installed in Nottinghamshire in December 2014. They 'just happen' to resemble a Tau Cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified and are Danish-designed, that in twilight language signifies the 13th and 'lost' pagan Tribe of DAN [DNA], who some claim will birth the Antichrist.)

6) The first-ever National Grid electricity pylon to be built in the UK was at Bonnyfield in Scotland, on 14 July 1928 (the unreliable National Grid website just says it was built "near Edinburgh" - about 30 miles from Bonnyfield - in "January 1928"). Bonnyfield is less than a mile away from Bonnybridge, better known as Scotland's "UFO Capital", due to the frequency of flying saucer reports in the vicinity since 1992.

7) The nation was warned of pylon perniciousness in early-1975 by the first broadcast of the BBC's doom-laden children's TV series The Changes (adapted from Peter Dickinson's novel The Devil's Children), that depicts a violent, anti-technological revolt by Britain's inhabitants who later leave the country. This madness is triggered by a sound apparently emitted by electricity pylons. Many years later medical research has proved the harmful effects that pylons do actually beam on people. "There's something in the air..."

8) As part of their strategy to appear non-threatening, pylons obsess certain people and influence them to create zany, fun websites, such as the lady who formed the Pylon Appreciation Society and the guy who runs the Pylon of the Month website. This is done to disguise the pylons' occult purpose on earth, in which they inspire the spawning of more serious and shadowy pylon-worshipping cults, such as the unnamed UFO-related one active in the Cergy-Pontoise region of France in 1980 (Leonard Lander, Beyond The Dial, ORB Editions, February 2009, p.54), and New Zealand's "chaos monks", who around Y2K used to "meet monthly by the steel foot of the first pylon after the 47th exit south of A.K." (Circuit 47 zine, Issue 4 [2000]).

In the UK, on 8 September 1987 two security guards patrolling the (then under construction) Stocksbridge bypass road at Deepcar witnessed a "hooded figure" who then vanished. The two men then saw some small children dancing around an electricity pylon on the new road-bank who also vanished into thin air, leaving no trace in the mud (Paul Devereux, etc., Earth Lights Revelation, Blandford Press, 1990, p.99). In 2015 John Rogers discovered evidence of pylon worship in the form of the remains of a fire that had been lit directly underneath a pylon in the Lower Lea Valley. According to one ex-member, pylonic rites involve the use of fluorescent light tubes as magic wands, as they will self-illuminate in close proximity to a pylon due to the live wires' residual emissions. Another has stated that the cult believes the pylon's humming in damp weather and howling in the wind contains spectral voices that can be heard and communed with in the right kind of trance.

9) In his youth, my industrial musician friend Johnno went for a solo jaunt in the mountains without map, compass or provisions. He became lost and understandably feared for his safety, the panic quickly rising. For some reason he soon got the idea to "ask the land" for a solution, and it replied "follow the pylons", which stretched across the terrain. He did, and they led him back to civilisation, and possibly saved his life.

Twenty years later, on the night of Halloween 1989, he was collecting atmospherical field recordings for his new LP, and decided to make one sourced directly from a pylon atop some windswept hill far away from electromagnetic smog. This was done by a portable tape-recorder, its mic socket filled by a jack-plug with one wire attached to a copper spike pushed into the earth and the other wire wound around the pylon. When he turned up the recording level he heard a peculiar crackling static sound within a low frequency hum, that gradually morphed into a regular pulse with illegible EVP-type voice signals in the noise. A few minutes later violet corona discharges sparked around the pylon's aegis and a psychoactive aroma of ozone filled the air. At this point he suddenly felt his hackles rise, so looked behind him and saw a ghoulish man "like a Jacobean scarecrow," all dressed in black with a wide-brimmed black hat, slowly walking towards him. As their gaze locked, Johnno "could feel the sight of its eyes entering my eyes to occupy all attention." He's never said any more about it and I know not to ask.

Mark Reeve is interested in this dimension, and others. As a self-taught British multimedium creative he co-founded the now-disbanded "cult cult" the OKOK Society/Research Bureau and is currently enjoying his latest project: the North Wales Psych[ic]ogeographical Network (NWPN).

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Manchester: One City with Many Names and Histories


by Basak Tanulku

My journey to the UK started in the north-west of the country where I lived in Lancaster and then in Manchester, briefly, rather than much-loved and praised London, an urban maelstrom difficult to escape. For me, at first Manchester was a no-go city without any attractions and colours. However, by attending several academic events in Manchester, I started to wander its streets and discover its multiple histories and identities. Manchester’s identity has been shaped by political activism, particularly women and working class movements during the 19th and early 20th century. It is regarded as the Capital of the North, which demonstrates its economic, social and cultural importance for the region. It is also called Madchester, as a result of its rich history of alternative music, while it is also a centre of classical and contemporary arts which hosts venues like Manchester Art Gallery, the Lowry, and the Whitworth Art Gallery.

Despite its well-known artistic hubs, Manchester reminds me of a man, a working-class man. Its architecture and plan also strengthen this identity: it has only one centre and consists of rigid structures, red-brick terraced houses, old mills all distributed in grid-like streets. In addition, various examples of mock Gothic architecture such as churches and public buildings provide a darker atmosphere to the city. Pubs are also an important part of this masculine identity. Pubs smell of smoke and oak, and are dark. Usually they are crowded with men who drink, chat and watch football games, which made me feel lonely in crowd. The best times for me to visit a pub were the live music evenings, so that I could get lost in the crowd as a music fan, instead of a foreign woman who did not know what to do. In order to experience this culture, you should visit a local pub, instead of many located in the city centre, manicured for tourists. Relatedly, Manchester is a football city where the clubs Manchester United and Manchester City come from. During derby days, you cannot see many people in the streets as they flock into pubs to watch the games.

For me, Manchester’s centre is the Piccadilly Gardens, which hardly looks like a garden. Rather and ironically, it is a square made of concrete and walls. Here you can see how diverse the people of Manchester are, which contrasts with the solidity of concrete: students, blue and white collar workers, street vendors, tourists, football fans, artists, the homeless and activists - they look like flowers in a pot. Here you can also smell and listen to Manchester: the smell of food, vomit, perfumes, pubs and coffee all mingle in air with the noise of tram, cars, buses, music and talk. Turn left and go ahead, then you are in the St. Peter’s Square which once hosted the Peace Gardens and a sculpture, dedicated to peace and a nuclear-free Manchester (Barbara Pearson’s Messenger of Peace, a woman made of bronze, who fed birds among trees). I was thinking that its femininity creates contrast with the masculine character of Manchester. In 2014, the Peace Gardens were removed and the sculpture was replaced by the Cenotaph, a memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives during the First World War. The Cenotaph is a sculpture that looks like a lonely man standing in the middle of concrete.

Manchester has more to offer than the attractions in its centre. However, in order to see its ‘more’, someone should look below its surface. For this, the Edge is a surprising place, located in the south of city, the beautiful and rich village of Alderley Edge, inhabited by famous football players and businessmen. The Edge, a sandstone escarpment, is a National Trust site and was a mine where copper had been excavated since the Bronze Age until the 19th century. However, it also hosts ghosts of the past and is regarded as a haunted site. According to local legend, it is believed that a group of warriors and their horses sleep in the Edge inside a cave and when they are needed during a war they will wake up to save the country. Whoever wants to discover the mysterious side of Manchester, should visit the Edge and feel its dark atmosphere which blurs the boundaries between physical and surreal. But I warn, if you see a ghost, don’t be afraid of it. Get lost in this city with many identities and histories, some above its surface, some below it.

Basak Tanulku Biography:
I am an independent urban sociologist from Istanbul, Turkey. I have a PhD degree in Sociology from Lancaster University, UK, for research in “An Exploration of Two Gated Communities in Istanbul, Turkey” (2010). I am interested in any aspect of cities particularly cultural reading of cities, urban heritage and the relation between city and identity. I published various pieces and articles in blogs, websites and peer-reviewed journals. I have also a particular interest in Manchester and the North West of England, since I lived in Lancaster and Manchester for seven years (2004-2012) as a PhD researcher.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Psychogeography News - April 2016


Civic Pride
A psychogeographical essay by Nigel Ball on civic pride, parks and gentrification, with accompanying map.

Psychogeography Blogs
Scriberpunk’s A Psychogeographical Journey and David Petts’ Outlandish Knight.

Getting Started With Psychogeography
A link on the Scottish Book Trust’s website.

Rurality
Call for papers (deadline April 17th) for a conference in Orkney on the boundary between urban/rural. Also connected, this blog.

April Events
City Horizons: talk by Tristram Hunt MP on how resurgent cities will reshape the UK. Land2 conference at Plymouth University.

Walking the Radical Talk
An essay by the psychogeographer and academic Alex Bridger on psychogeographical psychology.

Scholar With Solid Commercial Background Seeks New Employer


Dr Tina Richardson – Highly Experienced and Qualified!

Hello!

You’ve clicked on my blog so you may just be a curious browser, or you may even be an employer looking for someone like me.

I have been in academia since 2005, but I am originally from a commercial background, spending most of my career in London as a consultant. My business experience includes: project management, PR and communications, and training and facilitation. My academic experience includes: research, editing/publishing and teaching/lecturing.

Below you can read more about my skills, experience and qualifications. At the bottom of the post you can select to access either a business or academic CV and find ways to get in touch. I appreciate that the written form is problematic – inasmuch as it doesn’t really express who I am as an individual. What do all my qualifications and experience mean if you cannot connect to who I am as a person? Well, I’ve posted up a video of myself doing a short presentation on a project that I am currently working on, so that you can get a better idea of who I am.

Below is the ‘nuts and bolts’ information that may interest you. If you would like a chat, meeting or further information, then please get in touch here. Also, it would be great if you could circulate this blog to any potentially interested parties.


Thank you!


CANDIDATE OVERVIEW
My varied work experience has helped me gain many useful skills that would lend themselves well to a variety of potential positions. Having worked in both the public and private sector, ran my own business and been an academic, has meant I have had to be flexible and understanding in my approach to people. I have worked on my own and in teams, and have developed the skills required to encourage, guide, influence and support those I work with. Being in higher education has enabled me to hone my coaching skills and I am able approach sensitive and complex issues in a diplomatic way. Working for myself means that uncertainty, risk and the unexpected are situations that I have learnt to respond to in an effective and constructive way. My excellent organisational skills can be attested to through the project work I carried out when working in IT, and my ability to prioritise, benchmark and hit deadlines is something that is expected of both consultants and academics.

QUALIFICATIONS
  • University of Leeds: PhD in Urban Cultural Studies (2014)
  • University of Leeds: MA in Cultural Theory (2009): MA (hons). Grade: Distinction
  • University of Leeds: BA in Cultural Studies (2008): BA (hons). Grade: First

KEY SKILLS
  • Effectively communicate concepts to others
  • Ability to be concise, logical and summarise effectively
  • Understand new material/concepts quickly
  • Project management
  • High degree of written and verbal articulation
  • Define problems and identify causes
  • Manage large amounts of information
  • Work under pressure and meet deadlines
  • Remain flexible in a changing environment
  • Good IT skills
  • Excellent research skills
  • Facilitate group discussions and motivate others
  • Identify goals and set benchmarks

SELECTION OF POSITIONS HELD

Current: Director of Urban Cune. Leading projects in the area of city/community, place-making and liaison in urban regeneration. Design and manage projects, assign tasks and manage budgets. Marketing, promoting services of Urban Cune and developing new business. Editor of STEPZ (magazine on the aesthetics of city life). Also deliver conference papers, guest lectures and write academic and cultural/arts articles/books. Please see website for further information: Urban Cune.

2009-2014: Researcher and lecturer at the University of Leeds. Employed by the Arts and Humanities Research Council my research looked at the influence of government commissioned education reports on higher education and how the discourse shaped the university we have today. During this period I taught at the university, guest lectured around the country, attended conferences, worked on a number of extra-curricular projects, published articles and began working on my book.

2008-2009: Marketing Manager at Media Innovations, Leeds: I led the marketing, PR and communications for the business which sold educational online mental health products. The organisation was a University of Leeds spin-out company and the products were based on research originally carried out at the university, but also by academics at other universities and specialist mental health charities. Originally I was contracted to write the Communications Strategy and Plan, but on the success of this the position of Marketing Manager was created for me and a budget provided.

2004-2005: Communications Officer at Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. In charge of communications, PR and brand for the patient care record pilot (The eVolution Project). Contracted to: develop the communications strategy and plan, manage the communications budget, advise the project leader and team, prepare press releases, take press calls, organise the national product roadshows, and train staff on the project brand and relevant communications. Please click here for all positions and a full business CV.

ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE

I am a highly qualified educator who takes a creative approach to building relationships, promoting learning and implementing change. Since 2009 I have been teaching in higher education. Coming from a cultural studies academic background I have more recently specialised in: community, city life and cultural placemaking. I have taken a creative approach to my own teaching practice and demonstrated innovation in leading research in my own field (locally, nationally and internationally). My doctoral thesis critiqued the contemporary university model of higher education. It looked at the imaginative ways students use campus space as not only a way of self-expression, but also as a sub/conscious challenge to the expected use of space promoted by the dominant discourse of the institution. Please click here to read an abstract on my thesis.

Through my own academic field of cultural studies I understand the processes of meaning-making, semiotics (how to read the signs that form language), cultural diversity and communications theory/the media. I have also been teaching undergraduates since 2009 and have supplied dissertation advice to students at the university, at other local colleges/universities and at a national level, due to my very specific specialism. I also led and managed a research group at the university from 2009-2013 (Leeds Psychogeography Group). This was a new initiative and was formed, administrated and promoted by myself. The group was a network of interested individuals from both inside and outside the university. The talks I scheduled were so successful that for one semester they were included in a module for undergraduate artists at York St. John University. This research culminated in the publication of my edited volume Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography in 2015. Please click here for my academic website and here for a full academic CV including publication and editorships.

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

I have excellent presentation skills developed from being in business and higher education. I have presented to business teams (including managers and CEOs) and a number of papers at academic conferences, in the UK and abroad. I am organised, good at planning my own time, thinking ahead and setting goals. My CV attests to my flexibility and ability to adapt to change easily (both geographically and professionally). I think strategically, but am also attuned to a creative approach to problem-solving. I keep myself abreast of developments in my area of expertise and am considered to be at the vanguard in my own academic field. I like to share my knowledge, research and ideas with colleagues as this fosters trust and helps work towards resolutions. I relish being challenged, as can be seen in my career change in 2005 and my undertaking of a PhD.

I am a responsible and reliable individual and believe in being accountable for my own actions and decisions. People consider me to be approachable, helpful and friendly. I have always been credited for my professionalism in academia. The work I produce is always of a high quality, delivered in a timely fashion and presented neatly. I am considered to be a credible individual who is an excellent representative for whomever I work for. I have good communication skills and always build good work relationships in whatever environment I am in, and I understand the importance of behaving in a dependable and consistent way with work colleagues and stakeholders.

POTENTIAL POSITIONS

My skills, experience and qualifications would lend themselves to the following, but do get in touch if you can see a fit elsewhere:
  • Commissioning Editor
  • Cultural Relations
  • Cultural Outreach
  • Education Officer
  • Placemaking Consultant
  • Public and Cultural Engagement
  • Research Project Manager
  • Semiotics and Cultural Insight
FURTHER INFO

Click on these links to download a business CV and here for an academic CV. If you would like to get in touch, please do so via the contact page here.

Thank you in anticipation!