Saturday, 10 October 2015
Extracts from Walking Inside Out – Practicing Psychogeography…
This is the fourth of a series of blogs that includes extracts from Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography. This section is entitled ‘Practicing Psychogeography/Psychogeographical Practices’ and begins with a summary of that section followed by extracts from the individual chapters/authors. Please click here for the other extracts: ‘Memory, Historicity, Time’, ‘Outsider Psychogeography’ and ‘Power and Place’.
Guy Debord wrote The Theory of the Dérive in 1959, setting out instructions on how to drift through the city in such a way where the participants are in tension between a relaxed state of being open to what may arise on the walk, and a conscious awareness in regard to the controlling force of urban décor. Recommending it as a group practice (even specifying the number of participants), suggesting the duration of the walk and discussing the logistics of the area under observation, we can see the genesis of a methodology unfolding in Debord’s text. He tentatively describes psychogeography as a methodology under development at the time of writing his essay and tells the reader how the dérive can be used as a springboard to further the purposes of the Situationists’ wider project, later laid out in Basic Programme of the Bureau of Unitary Urbanism (1961).
Formulating a methodology for philosophical (or scientific) inquiry is often necessary for an academic in order to propose potential work and to validate the results of findings. There are a number of situations where this might be required, for instance: when presenting one’s work to a particular body (such as an ethics committee) in order to validate a prospective research proposal. The three essays in this section represent the academic work of three individuals from three different fields: performance, urban planning and cultural studies. The authors have developed a methodology for their walking-based practices and named the methodology in order to distinguish their form of walking from other psychogeographical practices. These essays show the development and evolution of a methodology over time, the fleshing out of a process for a specific project, and the practical aspects of applying a methodology to walking-based research.
Psychogeography and Mythogeography: Currents in Radical Walking
by Phil Smith
The mythogeography project was not planned. It emerged from particular circumstances that still mark it; a transition within artists’ collective Wrights & Sites (Stephen Hodge, Simon Persighetti, Cathy Turner and myself) from making site-specific performances to making interventions in everyday life. What it then became is more a result of emerging opportunities for dispersal than of any coherent strategy; an interwoven set of terms, theory-tales and praxis-narratives made available as far as resources allow to that assemblage of ambulatory and ‘resistant’ practitioners who escape the more popular and literary summaries of psychogeography (Coverley 2006).
‘Mythogeography’ is a theorization of multiplicity and mobility that hangs on the texture, grit, sweat and emotion of individual journeys. Its promotion of its own ideas stems partly from a painful awareness of how quickly actions can melt into air, and partly from a grudging admiration for those, like postmodern performers Forced Entertainment (Etchells, 1999), who have created a critical-theoretical scaffolding around their own activities (getting their retaliation in first).
Developing Schizocartography: Formulating a Theoretical Methodology for a Walking Practice
by Tina Richardson
My interest in psychogeography began in 2009 on a Masters module that included the work of the Situationist International (SI). At the same time I set up Leeds Psychogeography Group and also decided to develop my own specific form of psychogeography as a critical method of urban walking. This was because I wanted to differentiate the urban walking I did from that of others, and at the same time to add nuance to a seemingly vague term. Also I needed to think through my own type of critical walking as a more formulated methodology that could stand up to critique, to the extent it would be credible as part of a PhD.
By applying Félix Guattari’s theoretical critique to the practice of psychogeography, I formulated the term ‘schizocartography’ from his terms “schizoanalysis” and “schizoanalytic cartography”. In its combining with psychogeography, what schizoanalysis does is enable alternative existential modes for individuals in order to challenge dominant representations and power structures as they appear in urban space. This provides an opportunity for multiple ways of operating in and reading the environment; it critiques the conventional ways of viewing, interpreting and mapping space. In this essay I will detail the theoretical aspect of schizocartography, explaining the comparisons with Guattari’s work and that of the walking practices of the SI, describing the methodology of schizocartography by providing examples.
Route Planning a Sensory Walk: Sniffing Out the Issues
by Victoria Henshaw
Sensory walks have emerged since the late 1960s as one form of psychogeography with a focus upon environmental characteristics, experiences and perceptions gained through one or more of the senses. Their emergence as a research method was as a consequence of the coming together of a range of philosophical and theoretical thought and debate, influenced predominantly by feminist and ecological movements where the investigation and analysis of everyday experiences are argued important and necessary in gaining insights into the physical and social environment…
Despite the increasing use of sensory walks as a research method, little has been written about the practical considerations and decisions to be made by the researcher during their planning and implementation. In order to promote and inform the continued use of sensory walks as a method, further debate and discussions are therefore required. In this chapter, I seek specifically to examine the decisions faced in selecting the environments through which a sensory walk might travel and in doing so, to highlight the implications of research site selection on factors such as the nature of the data collected and participant reflections upon the research design.