This week we’ll be reading and thinking about psychogeography with a view to writing your next project [Project 5]. As a form or style or genre of writing it is, as with many of the forms we’ve explored so far, hard to define but it is characterized by the writer taking a solitary walk through a particualr environment. It is often a journey taken on the edge of places or that explore places on retreat or in decline. With this in mind much psychogeography is concerned with documenting loss or change. The 18th cnetrury poet John Clare is often cited as setting the precedent for this kind of writing – famous for his celebratory representations of the English Country side when enclosure legislation threatened an end to country life as was then known with its freedom to roam. More recently Will Self and Iain Sinclair have both – and with idiosyncraatic colour – made this style of writing a central part of their writing and intellectual practice.
Please read and watch the following and be prepared to come with responses and ideas for your own exploration of this for next class.
Psychogeography has its soots in situationism of which Guy Debord was a key member Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”[. If you haven’t already read Perspective for Conscious Alterations of Everyday Life [see Week 2] [Highmore Everyday Life reader] then do!
Watch [at least] some of this film:
There is a translation of French Voice Over available by following the link to a blog on the You Tube page. it’s very interesting to observe the way the camera’s eyes sees. With the v/o processes specific ideas and interpretations about ‘the seen’.
And for another fascinating filmic response to psychogeographical approaches to ‘landscape and journey writing have a look at Andrew Kottings Gallivant [UK 1995]. if you have a look at Sinclair’s web site you’ll see they’ve worjed together quite a bit.