Tuesday, 19 May 2015

What are Perambulatory Hinges?

Following on from my mention of ‘perambulatory hinges’ at the World Congress of Perambulatory Sutures last week, I feel the need to qualify the term in order for it to be pinned down as much as possible. If any of my psychogeography students want to use the term, I would hate for them to use it incorrectly and lose marks in their assignments because of that. So, here are the guidelines for establishing (or writing about) a perambulatory hinge:

1 - A perambulatory hinge is not a ley line!

Ley lines are attributed to Alfred Watkins and he refers to them in a number of his books, for example The Old Straight Track (1925). While you can obviously read the Wikipedia page on ley lines, some psychogeographers think that Wikipedia is not clear enough about what a ley line is. This is how Jeff Belanger opens his blog about his own investigation into them:
A study of leys taught me that the current general idea of what ley lines are is pretty off base. But in researching the phenomenon, some truly intriguing earth energy mysteries can be found. There are fairy paths, corpse roads, geister wegen, and a slew of other supernatural linear features on our planet where people do come for spiritual experiences, and there are "roads" that ghosts have been reported traveling down repeatedly.
Check out Belanger’s helpful article for more info: Ley Lines, Old Straight Tracks, and Earth Energies

2 – Perambulator hinges are subjective, but come into being collectively!

Perambulatory hinges are generally attributed to postmodern space. Or should I say, they are predominantly a postmodern event/occurrence (this will become apparent when you read the theory part explained in no.3 below). They work through a kind of ‘calling’ made by a particular piece of urban phenomenon. Because the calling is psychogeographical – i.e. a particular person is responding aesthetically/affectively to the object – it is subjective (therefore individual) in that aspect. However, as well has having our own personal responses to urban objects, we very often share our reaction with others (although not exclusively, as it is also cultural). So, when a particular object ‘calls’ to a number of people in a similar way over time, a perambulatory hinge develops. This is how it works…

3 – Perambulatory hinges can be best explained through the concept of ‘subjecting’.

In an Althusserian sense the object actually subjects you. It recruits you through its effects. It may not recruit you in the absolutely ideological way expressed by Louis Althusser, but nevertheless it is a cultural effect, so in that sense it may still be ideological. So, like the policeman in Althussers example in ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’, the urban décor hails you – well it hails anyone, but you feel it is hailing you, specifically – and you, sort of, do this 180 degree turn that Althusser says occurs at the point of subjection. Consequently, you recognise the calling of the phenomenon in its personalised hailing of you. The object, in its expression which is directed at you, appears in its obviousness: it really is calling you. Althusser explains that this is how ideology is “endowed with a material existence”. The effects of the response to the calling retroactively produces its cause through subjecting the individual. Therefore, the individual responding to the urban phenomenon, as subject, is both the cause and effect. This is the effect of the urban apparatus of which the individual is subjected, but it is also what produces her/him as the psychogeographer in that moment, as the cause of the effects.

4 – You cannot see a perambulatory hinge.

When this calling and psychogeographical response is similar among the ‘community’ in regards to a specific piece of urban décor - and when it occurs multiple times over a period of time – eventually a perambulatory hinge arises. You cannot see the hinge come into being, you can only surmise that it might be there. Of course, you could verify it through discussion with the psychogeographic community. The hinge appears when it reaches a kind of critical mass. Even though it is invisible it nevertheless is still material because it is caused by this ‘180 degree turn’ mooted by Althusser (of course, it isn’t really necessarily exactly 180 degrees, though - this is metaphoric). While you cannot exactly pinpoint the exact position of the hinge in space, you can probably work out roughly where it may be by looking at lines of sight, etc. However, unlike a desire line – which is very apparent – it is not visible, although sometimes there may be traces...

Look out for the next blog, which will provide an example of a new perambulatory hinge which is possibly developing in Birmingham.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

The World Congress of Perambulatory Sutures

The World Congress of Perambulatory Sutures took place in the North of England this last week, culminating in two extraordinary events, one held in Huddersfield and one in Leeds. I use the word ‘extraordinary’ here in the definition of both ‘unusual or remarkable’ and also ‘specially convened’. These events were ‘Class Wargames’ at the University of Huddersfield (13th May 2015) and ‘The Inside Out of Walking Inside Out’ at the University of Leeds (14th May 2015). Psychogeographers travelled through time and space for these events. From as geographically far away as Paris, as temporally distant as the London Psychogeographical Association of the 1990s and as virtually far away as the online Outbounding forum, The Art of Exploring.

Class Wargames
University of Huddersfield 13 May 2015

Dr Alexander John Bridger arranged for Fabian Tompsett, Richard Essex and Dr Richard Barbrook to introduce Class Wargames to interested parties: gamely academics, itinerant psychogeographers and general ne’er do wells with a curious nature. Class Wargames is based on Guy Debord’s ‘The Game of War’ and in his honour alcohol was included in order to help channel the God of the dérive. Sides were taken, swords were drawn, turrets were stormed – all in the name of class and psychogeographical boundaries.

Anyone partaking in Class Wargames may put themselves forward for ‘activist’ or ‘associate’ status once they have played. However this title can only be tenuously attributed to those who drank so much they could barely even pronounce ‘Debord’ and also those whose attention span was equivalent to that of a single-celled organism.

The 8 hour long game culminated in a win for the underdogs – or rather underdog as by this time three of the four players on that team had found the Harold Wilson statue and spent the last two hours of the game discussing the Bolsheviks and feeding him crisps. For some, the event was a dérive in itself, as they walked from Huddersfield through the night straight to the event that took place the next day at the University of Leeds, sleeping under a bush in the Vice Chancellor's garden till woken by maintenance staff at around 7.00am.

The Inside Out of Walking Inside Out
University of Leeds 14 May 2015

At ‘The Inside Out of Walking Inside Out’ Dr Tina Richardson not only led us on a wander through her new edited volume, but also through the scene of British urban walking in the 21st century. Plying the audience with wine gums, marshmallows and chocolate buttons, she attempted to bribe the audience into buying the book by giving away key rings. One of the audience members stormed out half way through in protest at “the lack of alcoholic beverages at a freakin’ book launch” and threw his key ring at Richardson, knocking off her trilby. Richardson had to pass over to Dr. Bridger to continue reading while she snorted from her Bach Rescue Remedy teat pipette in an attempt to recover.

Richardson was her usual contentious and unagreeable self, throwing terms like ‘post-Sinclairian’ into the mix in order to start an argument, at the same time alienating all the literary psychogeographers in the audience and the London-based ones in one fell swoop – not least Sinclair himself. She explained ‘the new psychogeography’ to everyone, stating pretentiously that since she hadn’t got too much time left before she retired “one must strategically carve out a place for oneself in order to become part of psychogeography’s heritage”.

The talk ended with the swearing in of a new World Congress secretary and treasurer, followed by an indoor psychogeographical trip, led by Dr Andrew Evans, around the School of Geography.

We, The World Congress, believe that the cumulative effect of the geographical concentration of these two events in the week beginning 11th May 2015 has probably shifted psychogeographical ley lines across the UK, or at the very least at significant points north of Birmingham. It is also quite likely that at what are known as ‘perambulatory hinges’, such as the one located at the University of Loughborough near the brutalist halls of residence (Towers) and also that situated on the roundabout near Burley’s Flyover in Leicester, have been totally thrown off orbit!

You can also see Dr Bridger's account of events, including much more information on the game itself, here: Not Another Psychogeography Blog:

"Lest we forget to mention, there was a special guest appearance by David Bollinger, Director of the West Yorkshire Association for Psychogeography at the Class Wargames event at the University of Huddersfield. His contribution was vital to enabling the Austrians to win the battle of Marengo, thus turning history ‘on its head’ and preventing the French from winning!"
 CEO of Huddersfield Psychogeographical Network

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Walking Inside Out – Contents

Walking Inside Out:
Contemporary British Psychogeography
Editor: Tina Richardson
Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield International

Due: July 2015

Below are the contents for Walking Inside Out. For the full details on the book by the publisher, please click here.


Introduction: A Wander through the Scene of British Urban Walking
Tina Richardson

Part I: The Walker and the Urban Landscape
1 Longshore Drift: Approaching Liverpool from Another Place
Roy Bayfield
2 Walking the Dog: (For Those Who Don’t Know How to Do It)
Ian Marchant
3 Incongruous Steps toward a Legal Psychogeography
Luke Bennett

Part II: Memory, Historicity, Time
4 Walking through Memory: Critical Nostalgia and the City
Alastair Bonnett
5 Selective Amnesia and Spectral Recollection in the Bloodlands
Phil Wood
6 The Art of Wandering: Arthur Machen’s London Science
Merlin Coverley
7 Wooden Stones
Gareth E. Rees

Part III: Power and Place
8 Psychogeography Adrift: Negotiating Critical Inheritance in a Changed Context
Christopher Collier
9 Confessions of an Anarcho-Flâneuse, or Psychogeography the Mancunian Way
Morag Rose

Part IV: Practicing Psychogeography/Psychogeographical Practices
10 Psychogeography and Mythogeography: Currents in Radical Walking
Phil Smith
11 Developing Schizocartography: Formulating a Theoretical Methodology for a Walking Practice
Tina Richardson
12 Route Planning a Sensory Walk: Sniffing Out the Issues
Victoria Henshaw

Part V: Outsider Psychogeography
13 Rewalking the City: People with Dementia Remember
Andrea Capstick
14 Psychogeography, Antipsychologies, and the Question of Social Change
Alexander John Bridger

Conclusion: The New Psychogeography
Tina Richardson

Book Talk in Leeds 14th May

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Stepz Zine – Summary of Upcoming Contributions

The first draft contributions are in for Stepz: A Psychogeography and Urban Aesthetics Zine, so here is a summary of what you can expect in the pilot edition, which will be out in June (in alphabetical order):

Anna Chism
Chism interviews Tina Richardson about her psychogeography bucket list.

Bill Davis
Davies talks about hostile architecture, surveillance and social control.

Sophia Emmanouil
Emmanouil carries out an urban expedition with her daughter, turning it into a collage.

Jim Lawrence
Lawrence contributes a Ballardian fiction on Southampton’s underbelly.

Niall McDevitt
Max Reeves illustrates McDevitt’s essay on Yeat’s London, with his photographs.

The Psychogeographical Commission
The Psychogeography Commission provide lyrics on the experience of walking in the city.

Marlowe Reeves
Reeves will be including a drawing of urban space.

John Rogers
Evoking William Blake, Rogers offers us a history of Caledonian Park.

S.: discusses place and how memories persist over time and space.

Bobby Seal
In his essay, illustrated by Ian Long, Seal talks about how his health problems have impacted his mountain walking.

Ally Standing
Standing provides a critique of the brutalist architecture in Birmingham.

Tim Waters
Waters offers a textual, cut-up style map of Leeds.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Book Talk in Leeds – Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography

The Inside Out of Walking Inside Out

Date/Time: Thursday 14th May 5.15-6.15
Venue: University of Leeds (please see below for full venue details)

Talk/reading abstract:
This is the first talk in the series and preempts the release of Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography (Rowman and Littlefield International) in July. The talk introduces the premise behind the book, the ‘Inside Out’ of the title. Tina will be talking about why she thinks the book is timely and how it straddles both the fields of academia and creative writing. She will be reading from chapters written by some of the contributors and also talking about ‘the new psychogeography’. Flyers will be available on the night which give you a discount on the purchase of the book.

Tina Richardson is an independent scholar and psychogeographer. She became interested in psychogeography in 2009 when researching the Situationist International and set up Leeds Psychogeography Group that year, running it at the university till 2013. She is now a writer/editor and guest lecturer. Walking Inside Out is her new edited volume following Concrete, Crows and Calluses which she self-published in 2013. Tina is currently editing a magazine called Stepz, which will be published in June.

Venue details/directions:
Garstang Building, Level 7, Room 7.36
Once at the University of Leeds, go to Chancellor’s Court. Chancellors Court can be seen between buildings 88, 89 and 84 on this downloadable map: Click here for Map.
To get to the room, go to the middle of south side of Chancellor's Court: Click here for google earth view of Chancellor’s Court.
There you'll find a set of (as yet unmarked) sliding doors, which are the entrance to the new School of Geography complex. Go through and into the foyer; the room is on the left.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Walking Inside Out – Conclusion Extract 3

It’s Psychogeography’s Turn

Attempting to define something as ‘new’ that has not appeared out of a distinct break from the past is beset with problems. In academic theory the tendency is to use the word ‘turn’ (linguistic turn, spatial turn and so on). I would prefer to describe the current movement in psychogeography as more like a gentle bend in the road. I see the motifs under discussion here as representing leanings rather than seeing them as a clearly defined set of criteria about what something is and what something is not. This is not a radical break. There are qualities of contemporary urban walking that are Situationist, in the same way that there are similarities with the 1990s resurgence of psychogeography. An epoch of any kind does not end one day and the next day begin with a whole new set of different or opposing themes, as can be seen when discussing modernity ‘versus’ postmodernity within the framework of cultural epochs. They bleed into each other, but they also contain distinctions that respond to their cultural (politico-social) moment in time.

It could be argued that not enough time has lapsed to look at how and why today’s psychogeography is different from that of the 1990s. A lack of critical distance might mean it is not possible to state what today’s urban walking is in concrete terms. Labelling it in any way could be foolhardy. However, starting a dialogue about the changes that are taking place is important in a book about contemporary psychogeography. I also appreciate that attempts to define it may be considered to go against what psychogeography represents (labelling, constricting, limiting). Nevertheless, many of my own discussions in recent years with those in and out of the field, and those I have read in journal articles or online blogs, demonstrate that there is a general consensus that a revival is taking place. If this is the case, we need to consider what form this psychogeography might take and why. Not least because we should think about how it can be used productively in a changing historical, political and cultural milieu.

Please click here for more extracts: Resurgence and the Virtual and What is British Psychogeography?

Related Links:
Walking Inside Out – Available for Pre-order

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Pynchon in Public 2015

I’ve been taking part in Pynchon in Public for the past 3 years. Here’s what the Pynchon in Public website says about the Thomas Pynchon related event:
Hereby instigating an annual May 8th culture jamming festival to be herein evidenced by photographic, textual, cartographic and video documentation. To prove it really happened, that our world was not projected.
Post horns, W.A.S.T.E. insignia, the novels of Thomas Pynchon read unashamedly on trains, while still sub rosa. 
It is simple, it is inevitable, it has begun.
Below are my past contributions, most recent first.

2014 – I made three coloured tags with bows and put them on my front door, a car with my surname on it and a postbox:

2013 – I made a muted posthorn out of a map and put this on my study window so the traffic could see it. 'Honk if you like Pynchon' it says:

2012 – I made this tag for my hand luggage and attached it to my handbag and placed my bag on the table next to The Crying of Lot 49 on my train journey to Norfolk:

Here are the types of things that the Pynchon in Public website recommend you can do on May 8th:
  • Reading books, in public, by or about Thomas Pynchon.
  • Reading work of his ‘heirs’, such as David Foster Wallace, Jennifer Egan, David Mitchell, Rachel Kushner, Neal Stephenson and Dave Eggers.
  • Reading work of authors who have cited Pynchon as an influence. These include: Don DeLillo, Ian Rankin, William Gibson, Alan Moore, Bruce Sterling and David Cronenberg.
  • Organising a local version of the W.A.S.T.E. postal network, as described in ‘The Crying of Lot 49′. See www.plot49.com and Silent Tristero’s Alternate Mail Project for some UK local examples.
  • Organise a ‘Philately Gone Wild’ club night. Patrons could come dressed as their favourite Pynchon character, covered in mute post horn symbols in body paint or Weimar era cabaret stars.
  • Launching model V-2 rockets in an appropriate safe open area.
  • Adopt a Pynchon character’s name for the day.

I’m not sure what to do this year, but am thinking of adding temporary collars/tags to the local urban animals that I know (with the guardian’s permission, obviously).