Sunday, 7 August 2011

Axis of Exploration and Failure in the Search for a Situationist "Great Strike"

The above map is appropriated from the Situationist map by Guy Debord called Axis of Exploration and Failure in the Search for a Situationist "Great Passage" (1957). My map is based on the recent education-related strikes in Leeds, in particular at the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University in the last year. My own image takes sections from various University of Leeds maps, it includes a photo I took of the J30 strike in June, and I'll leave you to work out what the top image is . . .

Here is how Tom McDonough describes Debord's map in The Situationists and the City:
...a novel sort of map, or perhaps we might better say a work that stands halfway between the realms of art and cartography...This was one of a series called 'psychogeographic' maps he made of Paris at that moment, maps intended to chart "the specific effects of the geographic milieu, consciously planned or not, acting on the affective comportment of individuals." It in fact records one particular expedition...undertaken three years earlier by Debord and Chtcheglov (seen in their photograph at the top left) across their favored neighborhoods on the Left Bank, pictured in four collaged aerial photographs linked by arrows signalling various possible routes of entry and egress from one 'ambiance' to another. At the bottom right we find a poetic emblem of this voyage, a reproduction of Claude Lorrain's Seaport with the Embarkation of Saint Ursula of 1641...The three elements together - along with the work's title, which characteristically unites a rather dry, technical description with the fanciful reference to the 'great' (that is, northwest) passage sought by explorers from Christopher Columbus forward in their quest for a more direct route to the east - produce an idiosyncratic plan of the city, one that privileges psychology as much as topography.

Please note: Unfortunately I cannot find a link to the original map of Debord's, although it is reproduced in McDonough's text, which is actually the first time I came across it.

Here is an animated version of the map: Axis of Exploration

Please click below to see my other Situationist-based maps:
Guide Psychogeographique de University of Leeds
A Psychogeographical Guide to Hunstanton Promenade

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