||| superimposed city tours |||
Psychogeographical mapping of coincidence in Leeds and Dortmund. Drifting through superimposed narratives of two cities at once.
||| Psychogeography (a working definition)
Found online 1998. Can't find it anymore & it's a damn good description, so its reproduced here. Author & origin unknown. If anybody has any information, email email@example.com.
There were a few hyperlinks in the original, some leading to broken links.
These have been restored. Hopefully they point to the right places.
Psychogeography Ś as noted by Guy Debord, is a concept with "a rather
In 1955, he defined it as "the study of the precise laws and specific
effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not,
on the emotions and behaviour of individuals ". [An
introduction to a critique of urban geography, 1955]. This has been
echoed much later by Michel de Certeau in his characterisation of patterns
established in ostensibly unpurposeful walking in the city: "a symbolic
order of the unconscious". [The practice of everyday life, 1988].
Certeau's invertion of Debord's geographical determinism
is arguably more appropriate for a concept that relies on intellectual
and emotional free play. Before Debord, another situationist, Ivan Chtcheglov
had declared "It must be sought in the magical locales of fairy tales
and surrealist writings: castles, endless walls, little forgotten bars,
mammoth caverns, casino mirrors. " [Formulary
for a new urbanism,1953]. This blurring of the magical with the mundane
is the very substance of fiction.
Psychogeography, as understood here, is the active search for, and
celebration of, chance and coincidence, concurrently with the divination of
patterns and repetitions thrown up by the [meeting/collision] of the chaos
and structures of cities, personal histories and interpretations. It is
based on the technique of the "dérive", an informed and aware wandering,
with continuous observation, through varied environments. It can be sought
and can lead anywhere.
Approaches to the concept vary with the concerns of the individual persuing
it. Chtcheglov, for instance, received his inspiration from the paintings
of de Chirico to postulate a surreal and magical city of the future. Here
the inhabitants would continuously drift with a conscious desire for complete
disorientation. Psychogeography can challenge the distinction (or rather,
enhance the blurring) between the imaginary and the material (City of
Alchemists), it can expose and undermine power relations as they are manifest
in space - (as performed by the London Psychogeographical Association
and Luther Blissett).
Some contemporary psychogeographers rely more on psychological analysis/self
analysis (using the city as an emotional mnemnonic: for example, Richard
Sennett), some rely more on left-communist political theory, some on conspiracy
theory (imposing connections on otherwise unrelated spatial, social
and political phenomena), some on geomancy. The dérive has also
be used as an intellectual device for creative/lateral problem solving
Rocks, an exploration of the possiblities of "critical tourism").
Equally a psychogeographic report these days could be themed around whatever
the "navigator" was thinking about at the time Ś sex, football, chocolate
cake, the scavenging of computer parts or a multitude of these (Visitors
Guide to London).
Since the late 1970s psychogeographic analysis has become one of
the cornerstones of postmodern geography and one of the hallmarks of
postmodern writing on the city. The technique of the dérive is paralleled
by the readers's drift through cyberspace using hypertext. The internet is
thus an ideal medium for both the documenting of a psychogeographical
project, whilst also opening up fresh multivalent navigable spaces to
perpetuate the continuous drift called for by Chtcheglov in 1953.