Thursday, 29 October 2015

Reading the Campus, Reading the City - Learning Resource

This blog is for lectures in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds w/b 01/11/2015.

This blog includes:
  • An overview of what to expect on the lecture/walk
  • Information on the architectural moments at the University of Leeds
  • A pre-lecture quiz
  • Links to other resources
  • A link to the slideshow from the lecture
  • Answer to the prize question (see below)


The prize for the question on the walk has now been won. The answer is that the image below is a Fire Point and states how far the wall is to the water hydrant in the street:



You might find the following summary of architectural styles at the University of Leeds interesting. Please note, the time-frames shown in the images below the text are very rough, because: cultural epochs bleed into each other, they are different depending on what field of theory you are discussing, there are (often) many socio-political impacts on design styles (e.g. war) and all 'moments' need to be individually contextualised in their given setting:

This extract is from 'The Unseen University: A Schizocartography of the Redbrick University Campus' by Tina Richardson (2014):

"At the point the Yorkshire College became part of the Victoria University it was comprised of the Clothworkers’ Buildings, the Baines Wing, an engineering building and some administrative offices, which were set apart from each other (Shimmin 1954: 18). In 1894 the Great Hall and the Library were completed in the space between these sets of buildings, but Shimmin states that “No attention seems to have been given to planning; block after block rose in response to the pressure of successive needs and the architecture naturally lacked coherence” (ibid.). The university inherited these red brick buildings, although some of the college’s original buildings were located in the city centre, and no longer belong to the university. The university still continued to use the terracotta bricks on occasion, as can be seen in the Beaux-Arts style Brotherton Library, completed in 1936.

The campus site was redeveloped in the 1920s with Art Deco influenced buildings, often containing neo-classical elements like the Parkinson Building, and mostly made in Portland Stone (an interesting looking Jurassic stone which reveals fossils in its surface), although not exclusively. Portland Stone was often used in royal, religious and public buildings from the 11th the 20th century. As a material it makes a statement about public life and civic pride. Not only can this often be seen in buildings such as Buckingham Palace, but also in British Town Halls. While some of the previously planned buildings were not actually finished until after World War Two, it is clear from their style they emanate from the 1920s and 1930s, rather than their period of completion, sometimes the 1950s, as is the case with the Parkinson Building, the entrance to the Brotherton Library.

By the time the Brotherton Library was finished in 1936, the demand for book space had increased again and the new space was already fully utilised. Shimmin dedicates a whole chapter to the library: “An adequate library is not only the basis of all teaching and study; it is the essential condition of research, without which additions cannot be made to the sum of human knowledge” (1954: 117). The first library building for the university was opened in 1895. Today there exists alongside the Brotherton Library (a red brick building but with an entrance built later in Portland Stone), the Edward Boyle Library (from the 1960s concrete-based architectural period), the Health Sciences Library (located at the Worsley Building, 1960s built), the St James University Hospital Library (a very recent building near the hospital), the university archive which is located in the Baines Wing (red brick period) and the new library (under construction as of August 2013). It is clear from just introducing this one university function as an example (book provision), how university processes are actualised spatially – in this case architecturally – and how the aesthetics attached to these buildings is complex because of the differing architectural periods which have different ideologies attached to them.

Beresford states that it is the long-standing relationship that the university had with the city council that enabled the clearing of areas of terraces for both the campus buildings built in Portland Stone and the later concrete Brutalist buildings in the early 1960s, a significant period of development. The period of Portland Stone was associated with the Vice-Chancellor James Baillie in the time leading up to Work War Two. Portland Stone campus buildings include the Old Mining Building (opened in 1930) and the Chemistry Building (opened in 1934), located next to each other on the Woodhouse Lane side of the campus. Up until the 1960s, the campus development by CPB was the fourth of four main periods of development for the University of Leeds. Each period had different architects (both in-house and hired ones), with distinctly diverse architectural styles, both in design and often in the material used."

Here are the images that refer to the above text:


If you would like to test your campus knowledge pre-lecture, take a look at these campus phenomena:

What is this and where is it located?

Who is this sculpture by and where can you see it?

What road is this walking figure on? How long has it been there?

For more information on the University of Leeds campus and St George's Field you can click on my thesis here: The Unseen University.
You can also get access to Robert Frederick Fletcher's thesis in the library for further information on the cemetery:
Fletcher, Robert Frederick, ‘The History of the Leeds General Cemetery Company 1833-1965’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Leeds, 1975).

Walking Inside Out: A textbook on contemporary British psychogeography.
A map showing the blue plaques on campus.
Blogs by other psychogeographers: Alex Bridger, John Rogers and Gareth Rees.
A free downloadable psychogeography zine: STEPZ.
Tom Vague: Psychogeography Reports.
Mapping the Campus by Paul Mullins.
A TED-Ed lesson on psychogeography: What is psychogeography?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Multistory Lecture Series - Tina Richardson - Schizocartographer

Please see the above venue details for my lecture at the Canterbury School of Architecture on Thursday 22nd October 2015 at 6.00pm. You can click here to find out more about the Multistory series of lectures.

I will be talking about the intersection of psychogeography, schizocartography and architecture, providing examples from my own research and introducing the SCRIB Project.

Please click here to view the handout and slides from the talk.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Extracts from Walking Inside Out – The Walker and the Urban Landscape

This is the fifth and final of a series of blogs that includes extracts from Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography. This section is entitled ‘The Walker and the urban Landscape’ 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’, ‘Power and Place’ and ‘Practicing Psychogeography.

The solitary walker situated within the landscape is not a modern phenomenon, even if the term psychogeography is. The cover of Terry Eagleton’s The Ideology of the Aesthetic (1990) shows Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog) (1818) by Caspar David Friederich. It depicts a man in a frock coat standing on a craggy rock with his back towards us, contemplating the buffeting sea below. He carries a walking stick, telling us that he is a walker and has not just pulled up in his Landau where his coachman awaits his return. The wanderer is elevated above the sea of which he looks down and is separated from. What this image depicts is the privileged position of this figure in the landscape. Not just because of his elevated position on the rocks, but because he is male, middle-class, Western and white (his red hair is blowing in the wind, the colour punctuating the image). Our protagonist represents both the 18th century coloniser and the stereotype of a classical psychogeographer.

However, in the 21st century psychogeography takes up multiple positions. From the perspective of the background, gender and age of the individual urban walker, to their relationship with urban space itself. Today the walker feels some sort of direct connection to the space s/he explores, even if that is from a critical position. It is no longer about the tourist’s gaze, but a reflexive response where both the walker and the space s/he moves about in is momentarily changed. This section looks at the different perspectives a walking critic might take and provides three different urban spaces in order to demonstrate the variety of places available for interpretation. Taking the perspective of two walkers, and providing one analysis of the writing of a walker, these essays draw upon the place of the contemporary psychogeographer in the everyday landscape.

Incongruous Steps Towards a Legal Psychogeography
by Luke Bennett

In Scarp: in search of London’s outer limits (2012), Nick Papadimitriou conjures with many dissonant ideas, images and registers. In this short essay I will dissect two of his strange conjunctions, and in doing so consider through them the prospects for extending contemporary British psychogeography’s embrace of the incongruous – the out of place, the absurd and the out of keeping – beyond psychogeography’s usually aesthetically inclined preoccupation with liminality, and into the mundane sphere of law’s everyday manifestations within the built environment. Papadimitriou takes us – early on in his traverse along the escarpment of what is now the lost county of Middlesex – to ‘Suicide Corner’, a stretch of the A41 snaking out its path North West of London. He recounts for us a succession of fatal car crashes, and of the people, creatures and other matter caught up in each event that occurred there. In doing so he draws forth isolated incidents, from the pages of long forgotten local newspapers and memory, activating these incidental archives in order to show a reverberation of these events within the landscape itself. At one point in his rumination Papadimitriou figures an anonymous “civil engineer working for the transport ministry” who “through eyeing the scraggy wood just to the north of the farmhouse, sees only camber, curve and how best to extend the planned M1 extension over this high ground from its present terminus” (Papadimitriou 2012, 20).

Papadimitriou captures in this passage how the task-orientated gaze of the engineer sees the topography as a set of logistical challenges, a puzzle to solve as he works through in his mind’s eye the most feasible path for his roadway. Papadimitriou’s description seeks to show how all other sensory inputs are blocked (or discarded) as irrelevant to this man’s purpose. He is standing there for a reason. He is harvesting the landscape for what he needs today.

Longshore Drift: Approaching Liverpool from Another Place
by Roy Bayfield

There was a single silver hair resting between the pages of the free Metro newspaper I found on the seat of the train to Waterloo (Merseyside) station, the starting point for the walk. It was quite early but the Northern Line train had already been back and forth a few times between the Lancashire market town of Ormskirk and the centre of Liverpool, an artery for a half-hour commute – the strand of hair, with its burden of time, could have belonged to anyone. The cover of the Metro that day was a wraparound advertisement for Merseyrail, asking the question: “want to know more about you and me?” (Metro, 2013). Inside, a short article stated that “ONE in six of us is so averse to walking that we rarely venture 500m (1,600ft) from the car” (ibid., 9). Signs were starting to manifest.

I changed trains at Sandhills and travelled to Waterloo, not quite reaching the city before heading out to its edge. At the station I had my first sighting of an image of Antony Gormley’s Another Place sculptures, aka the Iron Men, on a fading print over the stairs from the platform up to street level. It would be the first of many – sightings of two dimensional digital ghosts outnumbering the three-dimensional metal figures of the actual installation. As well as the Gormley image (a lone metal figure staring out to sea) there were other images of people sited around the stairs: pictograms depicting various ways to exit the station – climbing stairs, using the lift in a wheelchair, or pushing a pushchair. Outside the station, a map of the area included a sponsor logo based on a Gormley figure rendered into silhouetted pictogram form; I now knew that (wherever else I was) I was in the territory of the Crosby and Waterloo Business Village Partnership and that an Iron Man was their avatar. From pre-walk research I also knew myself to be in Merseyside...

Walking the dog. (For those who don’t know how to do it.)
by Ian Marchant

I’m a sort-of-travel writer. I’ve published three sort-of-travel books. Sort-of-travel books are usually shelved with the actual travel books. I get shelved in ‘travel’, and so does Iain Sinclair, the granddaddy of both British psychogeography and sort-of-travel writers, and so do Will Self’s psychogeographical writings. I am on the same shelves as the psychogeographers, but I’m not of their number. Psychogeography is not what I do. My stuff is too full of people, or too full of rambling anecdotes about my nocturial adventures. This would be forgivable maybe, if I was from a city. Or even interested in cities.

Whoever has tried to define what psychogeography is, however wildly they might disagree about everything else, they all agree that it is something that can only be done in cities, on foot, and with a pinch of Theory. Theory, fair enough, hands up, (or Theory Lite, anyway) but I don’t do cities.

I live in a little town called Presteigne. My wife and I go shopping in Hereford, our nearest city, 25 miles away. The Cathedral is worth a visit, and the best place for lunch is All Saints. Our engagement with Hereford is entirely bourgeois. I work two days in a week at Birmingham City University, in a respectably edgy part of the city, partway between Villa Park and The Hawthorns. It’s a two hour drive due east of Presteigne, and I never get out of the car until I’m in the University Car Park, and I never go off campus.

Other than Birmingham and Hereford, the main cities I go to are small French provincial ones, on holiday with my wife. We visit the cathedral and have lunch in a bistro. When I go to London I go to meetings, and afterwards I bimble around the bookshops and then maybe go to a show, or a talk. I have neither the time nor the inclination to go yomping round abandoned multi-storey car parks.

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.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Extracts from Walking Inside Out – Power and Place

This is the third of a series of blogs that includes extracts from Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography. This section is entitled ‘Power and Place’ 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’ and ‘Outsider Psychogeography'.

The psychogeographical project, as it was for the Situationists, was to tear down the spectacle and reorder space so as to express the needs and desires of the community. They did this in a number of ways, such as through their Unitary Urbanism project which involved redesigning city architecture. But in a practical way this was carried out through their dérives. By formulating chance routes through the city, the Situationists challenged the domineering nature of urban décor and offered a new approach to the city. By, literally, chopping out the areas of the city they disliked – for instance, areas dominated by the spectacle or under redevelopment – they reformed sections of existing city maps into quarters of their own choosing. These quarters reflected their own urban preferences and they added ambiances to them to express what they would represent in their new city, for example, Happy Quarter. The new maps, the Guides Psychogeographiques or the Naked City maps, suggested a new way of moving through urban space that was counter to the capitalist dominated city and encouraged people to reconnect with a city they were increasingly being pushed out of through bureaucracy and urban planning.

For many contemporary psychogeographers, even those who would not consider themselves to be activists, the imposed boundaries that appear in urban space represent power structures that are critiqued as part of their practice. It is the critical act of walking in urban space that enables one to understand first-hand how power operates on the body-politic in subtle and enduring ways. While there have been a number of psychogeographical movements since the disbandment of the Situationists in 1972, as there still are today, it is the SI that holds a prominent place in our memory when discussing political urban walking practices. The chapters here offer a historical overview of the activist project of the SI in relation to psychogeography, alongside a subjective account of running an urban walking group in the 21st century. These essays are very different to each other in form and writing style and reflect the heterogeneity of psychogeographic writing today.

Psychogeography Adrift: Negotiating Critical Inheritance in a Changed Context
by Christopher Collier

‘Psychogeography’ was codified in the mid-20th century to explore the effects of spatiotemporal situations on subjectivity and enjoyed a resurgence in the UK during the 1990s. It has seen further renewal within contemporary culture, particularly in conjunction with the development of its own tentative canon as a literary subgenre. Debate on the ‘recuperation’ of psychogeography has occurred between various practitioners, partially coloured by the polemical approach of the practice’s early avant-garde propagators.

I propose that both sides of such a debate are somewhat problematic: firstly, the ‘literary’ conception of psychogeography, as an artistic tradition, not only tends to disavow its radical Marxist heritage, but also fails to account for the conditions of its 1990s re-emergence, fundamentally based as they were in social praxis and politicised material culture.

Secondly however, to decry psychogeography’s fundamentally ‘literary’ or ‘artistic’ dimension as recuperation is also unsatisfactory, implying a fall, or troubling deviation from definitive, political origins. Such notions of recuperation deploy a neat, stagist narrative, at odds with the manner of psychogeography’s emergence and proliferation. Focusing on psychogeography as a primarily critical practice that has been recuperated potentially fails to acknowledge its immanent, open and pre-figurative dimensions. It also glosses over a number of developments since the 1950s and thus risks trapping psychogeography in the ideology critiques of a former age.

By briefly re-examining the conditions of psychogeography’s renewal in the 1990s, looking at its embeddedness in contemporaneous social praxis, I argue that psychogeography is literary, but in an iterative, excessive sense - as what one might tentatively call ‘infra-literary’, that is ‘literature’ as a material, social activity and a condition of possibility for collective subjectivation and resistance. By using this term ‘infra-literary’, I mean to imply the submerged, amorphous, material basis of communication networks and everyday resistance that as Stevphen Shukaitis notes, is already apparent in former Situationist Raoul Vaneigem’s description of “an infra-language”, around which “declarations of power dance wildly” when they cannot grasp or define its contents (Shukaitis 2009, 194; Vaneigem n.d., 24). This, Shukaitis implies, corresponds with the conception of ‘infrapolitics’ articulated by James Scott (Scott 1990) and Robin D.G. Kelly (Kelley 2002): “[T]he partially hidden public sphere […] a space that is somewhat encoded or otherwise made less comprehensible and legible to the view of those in power” (Shukaitis 2009, 209). What I intend is not literature in the sense of a necessarily individualised, commercially or academically published discourse, but something more akin to a literary ‘dark matter’, to appropriate Gregory Sholette’s metaphor, an underground potentiality, an undercommons, related to what Stewart Home—deploying the Russian term for clandestine, self-published literature—labels ‘samizdat’ (Sholette 2011; Home 1991, 102). I propose this practice has functioned as the material cultural and social basis that nourishes psychogeography’s more visible literary or artistic ‘tradition’.

Confessions of an Anarcho-Flâneuse or Psychogeography the Mancunian Way
by Morag Rose

This chapter explores my experiences as a founder member, and continued participant in, The Loiterers Resistance Movement (LRM) a Manchester based psychogeographical collective. The first time I heard the word 'psychogeography' I had a minor epiphany, because it seemed to me to give a shape (albeit an amorphous one) to something I could feel on the streets but not quite define. It was 2006 and I was involved in running an autonomous, anarchist social centre which we constructed in a disused warehouse in Manchester, as an attempt to create a non-commercial alternative space in the rapidly expanding neo-liberal city. Around this time I drew a Venn diagram to explain my conception of psychogeography.

I still believe this to be a good illustration of contemporary psychogeography’s seductive interdisciplinary qualities, although it misses the vital all-encompassing circle of embodied experience. By this I mean the multi-sensual interaction produced through walking and its capacity to generate a relationship between self, space and left-behind traces; the reason why I believe walking has terrific power as a kinaesthetic learning tool. At the time The LRM was founded I was somewhat disillusioned and burnt out from conventional activism, and frustrated by what I felt was the limited impact of shouting (and indeed writing) about spatial justice and inequality. I wanted to explore the use of psychogeography as a participatory tool to disseminate radical theories and stimulate critical debate. It was crucial to me that Loitering was a form of stealth politics that hid its intention under ludic joy, inspired in part by the imperfect avant-garde neo-Marxism of the Situationists. It is important to acknowledge here other Loiterers have different influences, motivations and memories. Early members included artists, activists, academics and a heterogeneous treasury of moochers who were curious about their environment. We wanted to be as open and welcoming as possible and our fluid structure still reflects this; people float in and out and define their own level of commitment. Some see Loitering purely as an aesthetic or social activity and indeed the convivial atmosphere during the post-dérive debrief, almost always in the pub amidst a cacophony of shared experiences, is very enticing. Many new, enduring and often unexpected alliances have formed during our walks. For me, psychogeography primarily offered a form of public engagement with radical theory that was fun, irreverent and active, a praxis developed out of a desire to find appealing methods to critique the hegemonic view of the city.