Psychogeography

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6 February 2010

Psychogeography is the study of the effects of geographical settings, consciously managed or not, acting directly on the mood and behaviour of the individual.  Psychogeography research is carried through non- scientific methods such as derive, aimless drifting through the city, trying to record the emotions given by a particular place; and mental mapping, the production of mood- based maps.

“The sudden change of ambiance in a street within the space of a few meters; the evident division of a city into zones of distinct psychic atmospheres; the path of least resistance which is automatically followed in aimless strolls (and which has no relation to the physical contour of the ground); the appealing or repelling character of certain places – all this seems to be neglected.” Guy Debord, ‘ Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography

Commuting to Nottingham from Leicester has given me the opportunity to develop a greater understanding of my surroundings, to look at my walk to work as an adventure. Navigating through the city, exploring different routes, finding short cuts, finding dead ends and occasionally getting lost. Unfortunately I wasn’t organised enough to make a record of every journey I made to work and at the time I wasn’t thinking about it as an activity that could be used to produce a piece of artwork.

During my walks to work I did recognise other commuters and residents taking their dogs out for a early morning walk, I didn’t really get to know any of them too well, nothing more than a polite hello or nod of the head. From time to time I did follow a few people for part of my walk and tried to walk in time with their footsteps. Following people made me feel safe particularly when I was walking home at the end of work with no one else around. I would watch how they manoeuvred past cyclists coming towards them, avoided puddles and bird poo on the pavement. I would walk behind, concentrating on the sound of their footsteps, their breathing, their music. When the weather turned icy, I would let other commuters lead the way so I could follow their path, concentrating on re-tracing their footsteps, hoping I wouldn’t slip on the ice.

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2 thoughts on “Psychogeography

    Andrew Carey said:
    February 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Mythogeography is influenced by, and draws on, psychogeography – seeking to reconnect with some of its original political edge as well as with its more recent accretions. While engaging seriously with academic discourses in areas like geography, tourism studies and spatial theory, mythogeography also draws upon what Charles Fort might have described as ‘the procession of damned data’. So, occulted and anomalous narratives are among those available to mythogeography, not as ends in themselves, but as means and metaphors to explain, engage and disrupt.

    jonvagg said:
    March 9, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Situationism lives on, then! I always had a bit of a soft spot for Debord, Vaneigem and the others – their books are still on my shelves somewhere. I thought that the idea of the ‘society of the spectacle’ was a good insight when it came out and it’s even more true today. I’m not surprised that it seemed to die a death as a political position, because it was never going to be easily translated into social and economic policies beyond a kind of syndicated anarchism. However it does surprise me that it hasn’t been picked up more often as cultural commentary, or indeed used the way you seem to use it.

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