Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Hysterical Simulacra: “To the established order they are always of the order of the real”.

There was a really interesting article in the 18 December 2014 edition of the London Review of Books entitled 'Writing Machines: Tom McCarthy on Realism and the Real'. McCarthy discusses the real, realism and reality in the context of literature, drawing on the likes of Jacques Lacan (amongst others). Discussing J. G. Ballard’s Crash, in particular the character Vaughan’s staged car crashes, McCarthy invokes Lacan, stating: “This is a real that happens, or forever threatens to happen, not as a result of the artist ‘getting it right’ or being authentic, but rather as a radical and disastrous eruption inside the always and irremediably inauthentic”.

This reminded me of Jean Baudrillard’s ‘The Precession of the Simulacra’, in particular his description of a possible staged hold-up. Baudrillard talks about how to “feign a violation” and goes on to say that:
There is no ‘objective’ difference: the gestures, the signs are the same as for a real robbery, the signs do not lean to one side or another. To the established order they are always of the order of the real.
This got me thinking about what might happen if you staged a faint as a form of intervention: the gestures, the signs are the same as for a real faint. Baudrillard says one would need to create as much disruption as possible, while staying as close as one could to ‘the truth’. This would be required so as to “test the reaction of the apparatus to a perfect simulacrum”. But, he adds, “You won’t be able to do it: the network of artificial signs will become inextricable mixed up with real elements”. Your collapsing/swooning will engender an emergency situation whereby ‘the system’ kicks into play: people will come to your rescue, first aid will be called! As Baudrillard explains: “you will immediately find yourself once again, without wishing it, in the real, one of whose functions is precisely to devour any attempt at simulation, to reduce everything to the real”!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Outsider Psychogeography

From Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography

This is the final section of the above upcoming book. Please click here for the other sections, The Walker and the Landscape, Memory, Historicity, Time, Power and Place, Practicing Psychogeography/Psychogeographical Practices.

Psychogeography has always had to deal with its detractors, from the criticisms aimed at the SI’s hankering for a lost past to the contemporary disapproval levelled at it in its current incarnations. This is especially prevalent today with the proliferation of online forums, blogs and zines. For example a post entitled ‘How Could Psychogeography Come to This’ appeared in June 2012 on the blog Cosmopolitan Scum which criticised the psychogeography carried out on the London Olympic site in 2012.

Some disciplines can be very welcoming to psychogeography, but this is not necessarily the case in all academic fields. When attempting to justify one’s own practice in what may be a somewhat ‘hostile’ environment, it is easy to come across as apologetic or overly defensive. While the vagueness of the term ‘psychogeography’ enables it to be an inter/transdisciplinary tool, as a field in itself (if we choose to call it that) it is considered unscientific, even if some of the practices employed within it might be used in a scientific way elsewhere and might appear under a different label. For instance, the Recitoire project run by the Grenoble Computer Science Lab, looks at qualitative surveys which involve citizens in their local urban planning projects. While this is not labelled as psychogeography at all, nor is the term used in their documentation, the comparisons are apparent.

The two essays which represent this section reflect the work of two academics who use psychogeography in their own field. They both draw on walking-based literature and philosophy and demonstrate how psychogeography can be used as an interdisciplinary tool which can be incorporated in a discipline in which it might not usually be considered. Chapter contributions for this section are from Alexander John Bridger and Andrea Capstick.

Related Info:
Walking Inside Out – book cover and abstract.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Practicing Psychogeography/Psychogeographical Practices

From Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography

This is the fourth section of the above upcoming book. Please click here for the other sections, The Walker and the Landscape, Memory, Historicity, Time and Power and Place.

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 scholarly 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.

Contributions are from Phil Smith, Victoria Henshaw and Tina Richardson.

Related Info:
Walking Inside Out – book cover and abstract.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Power and Place

From Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography

This is the third section of the above upcoming book. Please click here for the first section, The Walker and the Urban Landscape, and the second, Memory, Historicity, Time.

The psychogeographical project, as it was for the Situationist International (SI), 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 wished for them to 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.

While there have been a number of psychogeographical movements since the disbandment of the Situationists in 1972, as there 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 terms of 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. Chapter contributions for this section are by Christopher Collier and Morag Rose.

Related Info:
Walking Inside Out – book cover and abstract.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Memory, Historicity, Time

From Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography

This is the second section of the above upcoming book. Please click here for the first section: The Walker and the Landscape.

Our relationship with the city is intrinsically tied up with our knowledge and memory of it. If a particular city is somewhere we know - from today or from our past - we are unable to separate our psychological responses to it from the materiality of the place itself. This, in fact, is psychogeography and is what makes us all psychogeographers to a degree. A sense of place connects us to a geographic region in a specific way that becomes apparent when we start to explore the emotions attached to particular urban pockets that spark something in us. It might be a memory from our adolescence, such as an independent record shop in our hometown where we purchased our first piece of vinyl, or a more recent memory we have of the experience of moving to a new town or city and the differing aesthetics of that place compared to our last home.

These memories are not separate from our self, they inform and form us. The experience of the everyday that is played out in space - walking to the train station, going to the supermarket, taking the dog for a walk – make up a significant part of our day. These practices are imprinted on our psyches over time, forming our relationship with space and at the same time are laid down in our memory of that place, creating our attachment to it. What is particularly pertinent to our memory of place is that it is subjective and partial – it cannot be anything other. It is this that lends itself to the multifarious and often contradictory accounts of specific spaces.

In this section contributions range from qualitative research on memory and place, to personal accounts which interweave fact and fiction. They express the variety of styles of writing on place, but also the effects of time and memory in the way that they become part of our own histories.

Chapter contributions for this section are by Alastair Bonnett, Phil Wood, Merlin Coverley and Gareth E. Rees.

Related Info:
Walking Inside Out – book cover and abstract.

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Walker and the Urban Landscape

From Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography

The next few blogs will be introducing each section of the upcoming book (due 2015, Rowman and Littlefield International). I’ll include a short abstract and the authors who will feature in each section.

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.

Chapter contributions for this section are by Roy Bayfield, Ian Marchant and Luke Bennett.

Related Links:
Walking Inside Out – book cover and abstract.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Walking Inside Out – Book Cover

This is the new cover for Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography, which is due to be published around autumn 2015 by Rowman and Littlefield International. Here’s a short abstract about the book, but please click here for further info: Walking Inside Out.

While psychogeography in its broadest sense is as a method of urban walking which responds to and critiques the terrain, there are many different approaches to it. This can be because of the way the walking is carried out or in the way the practical work is written up or analysed. This book attempts to bring the work of literary/creative psychogeographers and academics together in an edited volume that looks critically at psychogeography today. Contributions are from academics and researchers, and from those working in the area of urban walking. The voices expressed here highlight and explore the setting and climate as it is for psychogeography in the UK in the 21st Century. The essays provide current examples of contemporary psychogeographical practices, demonstrating the differences between them. Examples of the different forms of urban walking are discussed alongside different theoretical approaches. This book is aimed at scholars, students and urban walkers alike.

While psychogeography in its broadest sense is as a method of urban walking which responds to and critiques the terrain, there are many different approaches to it. This can be because of the way the walking is carried out or in the way the practical work is written up or analysed. This book attempts to bring the work of literary/creative psychogeographers and academics together in an edited volume that looks critically at psychogeography today. Contributions are from academics and researchers, and from those working in the area of urban walking. The voices expressed here highlight and explore the setting and climate as it is for psychogeography in the UK in the 21st Century. The essays provide current examples of contemporary psychogeographical practices, demonstrating the differences between them. Examples of the different forms of urban walking are discussed alongside different theoretical approaches. This book is aimed at scholars, students and urban walkers alike.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The New Psychogeography - Update

I had originally planned to do a series of blogs following on from my first blog on The New Psychogeography, but since then I’ve decided to make the whole final chapter of Walking Inside Out about the new psychogeography instead of turning these blogs into an article. The first blog sparked a lot of discussion online, a considerable amount of hits and, also, the related slides from the Huddersfield lecture, that this all stems from, has been downloaded a number of times on academia.edu.

So instead, I am posting some of the original section on the new psychogeography from the first draft of the introduction to the book. I’m afraid you will have to wait for the book to be published to see the full concluding chapter which will now be dedicated to ‘The New Psychogeography’. I really appreciate all the input and discussion, etc – thank you.


In 2002 Iain Sinclair said of psychogeography that "the next step is to bury it completely! Let it go and let it re-emerge. I think it needs 15 years to gain some new energy, as I think this energy is rapidly running out" (cited in Pilkington and Baker 2002, 7). Since we are now fast-approaching the end of Sinclair's 15 year embargo, perhaps this is a salient moment to begin to discuss psychogeography again in a critical way, and take a serious look at the work being carried out in the field. I hope this text contributes to this discussion. At the same time I appreciate criticisms of the academisation of psychogeography might be levelled at this volume, but since I am oriented in academia and my field is psychogeography, it is impossible to do the work itself without being caught in this trap. Sinclair further comments on this problem when discussing the work Stewart Home did with the London Psychogeographical Association: “Stewart Home says that the LPA deliberately mystified and irrationalised their psychogeograhical ideas in order to prevent them from being academicised in the future. But they inevitably will be because Stewart himself is a sort of rogue academic, so it's self-contradictory in some ways. By doing it, it becomes part of this machinery in talks and interviews.” (cited in Pilkington and Baker 2002, 3).

But, nevertheless, Sinclair is in praise of walking itself despite his concerns with the term psychogeography. One thing that many walkers are preoccupied with, from activists to The Ramblers, is not just the marginalisation of our public spaces, but the marginalisation of the very act of walking itself. As Sinclair says in an interview in the Ramblers own publication: "We're at the bottom of the food chain and the day will come when we'll have the equivalent of bike lanes: a narrow suicide strip chucked in among the traffic. We'll have to have ghost walkers, like the white ghost bikes you see to commemorate dead cyclists" (2012, 98). So, it seems, psychogeographers perhaps do have more in common than can be expressed in their differences.

In The Art of Wandering: The Writer as Walker (2012) Merlin Coverley includes a chapter on ‘The Return of the Walker’. Situating the preceding 30 years within a literary tradition that is also reflected in the creative arts, he finishes his closing chapter with Nick Papadimitriou, whose rise in popularity followed Coverley’s previous book. Walking Inside Out presents the work of some of the contemporary literary psychogeographers alongside those working in academia, thus bridging the gap which means these texts are commonly presented to different audiences, but also demonstrating the inherent value to academia of the ‘creative’ psychogeographical account. On May 1 2014 the BBC online news magazine published an article by Finlo Rohrer ‘The Slow Death of Purposeless Walking’, which is posed rather more as a question than a statement and alludes to the number of recently published books in the field. While his article was not about psychogeographer per se, it provided walking tips to the novice, some of which supported and some of which countered psychogeographical practices in the broadest sense. But despite this, it is an encouragement to walk and one of the tips that is common to ‘purposeless walking’ and psychogeography is to “walk mindfully” (Rohrer 2014). This mindfulness will be apparent from the chapters of the book.

The beauty of the inexact art that is psychogeography, appearing in the innumerable forms that it has and continues to, attests to the durability and relevance of it still. It can be crafted, manipulated and even re-appropriated to suit your particular needs. It can be carried out fundamentally, creatively or ironically. And it can be picked up and put down like a handy tool that helps you metaphorically whittle away the parts of urban space of which you disapprove, rather like the SI did with their maps. Psychogeography is continually being reworked, reflected upon and reimagined. It has the ability to absorb the urban space in which it occupies, situate itself socio-politically and creatively employ innumerable tools in order to express itself.

Pilkington, Mark and Phil Baker. "City Brain." Fortean Times, 2002.
Rohrer, Finlo. "The Slow Death of Purposeless Walking." In BBC News Magazine, 2014.
Sinclair, Iain. "My Perfect Day: Iain Sinclair." Walk: Magazine of the Ramblers, 2012, 98.

Monday, 13 October 2014

The New Psychogeography

At the beginning of October I was kindly invited by Dr. Rowan Bailey to give a lecture to the Art, Design and Architecture MA students at the University of Huddersfield. My spec involved incorporating psychogeography into theoretical approaches to the postmodern city and, in particular, my own research in this area. So I got to thinking more about a section in the upcoming edited volume that I’m working on – Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography – that I had entitled ‘The New Psychogeography’ and decided to include that in the title of the lecture: ‘Postmodern Urbanism and the New Psychogeography’ (if you want to see the lecture slides properly, it is better to download them than scroll through due to the animation).

This got me thinking a bit more about what I think ‘the new psychogeography’ might look like, so following discussions with two other interested contemporary psychogeographers (Phil Smith and Alex Bridger), one of whom is also working on something similar, I came up with the following slide as part of the lecture:

I realise this slide might seem prescriptive – hence my caveat – but it is difficult, in a deconstructionist way, to say what something is without saying what it isn’t, and vice versa. So I have tried not to set these themes up in a dialectical way i.e. not against each other in the table. Also, during the actual lecture I was able to qualify what these motifs represent more fully, which I intend to address in future blogs. So what I am actual doing here, rather, is throwing this out in order to spark some discussion, while working on this more fully in my ‘spare time’. I plan to turn this into a fully fleshed-out article at some point in the future.

I’d just like to add, I don’t see this as a distinct break in any way, more a turn, a gentle movement towards something else. Also, my use of the term ‘post-Sinclairian’ is based on an email conversation I had with Iain Sinclair, so it is not a pejorative term levelled at him. I have a lot of respect for him and in the upcoming volume I describe as “the Godfather of contemporary psychogeography”. In our email exchange Sinclair said, and I paraphrase, ‘it is time for a young group of urban walkers to pick up the mantel of psychogeography and do something new with it’.

This is not intended as a pretentious exercise that reflects the overblown aspirations of a ‘new psychogeographer’. It is meant as a way of reflecting a moment in time where some sort of cultural – and politically reflected (maybe) – shift is occurring in the field. This is based on many conversations I have had with people over the past few years who believe there is a current resurgence of psychogeography – some were psychogeographers and some were not. And, since I am originally a cultural theorist, I understand that these ‘moments’ have reasons for coming into being when they do and this means they can be analysed contextually. In order to do that we need to recognise it and label it in some way so that we can discuss it, even if that labelling sits uncomfortably within psychogeography itself.

I do appreciate I am being a bit cheeky by attempting to name it: ‘Who do you think you are?’, you might be thinking. But, I am approaching it in both a serious and light-hearted way, as my opening words to the students at Huddersfield reflect: “I’d just like you all to know that you are the first people in the world to be introduced officially to the term ‘the new psychogeography’. When I am famous, or dead, you can all say ‘I was there the first time the phrase was officially mentioned!’”

Please feel free to join the discussion. As well as the motifs that appear on the slide above, in future blogs I will be exploring the following issues/themes:

Why the name ‘the new psychogeography’?
Does naming it go against what psychogeography is?
What about the issue of the academicisation of psychogeography?

Related links:
Psychogeography and Feminist Methodology

Monday, 6 October 2014

On Walking . . . and Women

While I’m a psychogeographer and female, I don’t classify myself as a feminist psychogeographer per se. This doesn’t mean I don’t carry out a feminist psychogeography but rather that I don’t use feminist theory directly in the analysis of my practice or the urban spaces I explore. It is my intention to address this at some point in the future (and I have been thinking about looking at in relation to ‘dress’ and/or ‘safety’). However, in the meantime I would like to draw your attention to Phil Smith’s latest book On Walking...and Stalking Sebald (Triarchy Press 2014) and his chapter ‘Women and Walking’.

Smith opens ‘Women and Walking’ with this quote: “This is the big one around walking – so obvious and banal. And out of it and around it and if we grasp the centrality of it, then everything else can come from it” (p.160). This reminds me of the opening of my undergraduate module on deconstruction where the lecturer said, and I paraphrase: “All binary oppositions ultimately originate from female/male”. Therefore, understanding this dichotomy/dialectic is a fundamental one which helps explain how other work – which is what Smith is also saying about women and walking.

Smith’s chapter is very sympathetic to the woman walker, but not patronising. His experience of walking with hundreds of different people enable him to consider how space, and the culture and powers that influence it, operate on individuals. He quotes Dee Heddon and Cathy Turner’s essay ‘Walking Women: Shifting the Tales and Scales of Mobility’ where they discuss the absence of the female psychogeographer in postmodern urban space. He challenges this by citing a number of contemporary women psychogeographers, including myself and Morag Rose. However, he acknowledges that urban space has historically been the domain of the male, even though a shift is now occurring towards a feminist psychogeography.

Smith concludes: “Walking needs to put its own house in order, identifying those gross prejudices that it has inherited from its romantic traditions [and] until women are free to walk wherever they choose and without fear, any so-called ‘high enjoyment of going on a journey’ [Robert Cortes Holliday] will continue to be a reactionary illusion, a fluid prison in which some are more stuck than others” (p.164).

More of Phil Smith’s work: Mythogeography

Links to the work of female/feminist psychogeographers:
Morag Rose
Dee Heddon and Cathy Turner
Alex Bridger
Tina Richardson

Friday, 5 September 2014

Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography

The first draft of Walking Inside Out has been submitted to the editors/publishers at Rowman and Littlefield International, so I have an update on the sections and chapters. If you would like to keep abreast of the book on twitter, please search for #walkinginsideout and/or follow me at @concretepost Thank you.

The Walker and the Urban Landscape looks at visual urban phenomenon from public sculptures to pavements. Concentrating on the appearance of the urban landscape, and how walking with a critical eye opens up the spaces in which we live and move, these essays draw our attention to both the aesthetics of spatial manifestation and the minutiae that can be easily overlooked on a casual stroll.

Roy Bayfield’s reflective walk, taken with a colleague, is set in Merseyside. His account provides an excellent example of a walking-based narrative. Bayfield responds subjectively to the landscape, including affective cues alongside contemporary politico-cultural references sparked by the phenomenon encountered. He weaves filmic, literary and geographical references together, producing a first-hand description of his walk from Crosby Beach to Edge Hill University.

Ian Marchant’s contribution comes from the field of creative writing and covers a walk in his hometown of Presteigne. Marchant ruminates on walking literature, and questions the label of ‘psychogeographer’, while making observations on the town he knows so well. The chapter includes personal references to the author’s life, historical information on Presteigne and commentary on his fellow townfolk. In a writerly way Marchant brings to life a walk that he takes with his dog every day and demonstrates how urban walking can becomes a reflexive tool, but also how creative writing can bring a place to life.

Luke Bennett’s chapter takes an analytical view of the work of the deep topographer Nick Papadimitriou. By highlighting passages from Papadimitrou’s Scarp, Bennett teases out conjunctions that arise in relation to the law and the built environment. Originally from a legal background, he uses his knowledge to bring a different perspective to urban walking, for example, by looking at public policy and geography in relation to Papadimitriou’s descriptions of the Middlesex landscape. Bennett’s essay references theorists from the field of geography, psychogeography and cultural studies, foregrounding both the landscape and the text of Papadimitriou’s from the perspective of someone who can see beyond the surface of space to the policy decision-making that lies beneath.

One of the ways past psychogeographical accounts have been used is to understand the aesthetics of a particular city at a specific moment in time. In Memory, Historicity, Time the essays deal with explorations and knowledge of the cityscape (in the past and today), by examining personalised accounts and histories. They reflect on how space is mapped out and how it is connected to memory, nostalgia, culture and geography.

In his essay Alastair Bonnett introduces the Situationists, and the way nostalgia influenced the creative aspect of their critique of the spectacle, in order to explore the memory of place for ex-residents of Tyneside. He discusses his interviews with the group and their issues with the modernisation of urban space in the way it affects them. Bonnett’s text includes qualitative research in the form of individual testaments and discussion on memory map-making. Situated within a psychogeographical framework, his essay also references Sinclair and the magico-Marxist work of Home, demonstrating that nostalgia is not necessarily a negative response.

Phil Wood uses the walks he has taken in Lviv and Odessa to explore the concepts of memory, trauma and loss. Drawing on his relationships with people from the region, and the friendships he has developed, he introduces fictional characters in order to explore the concept of amnesia and spectrality in urban space. The author uses deconstruction to highlight concepts around haunting and the visible/invisible. The historical and contemporary politics of the region is woven into the account to produce an essay which is both creative non-fiction and theoretical in its form.

Merlin Coverley situates the work of the Welsh author Arthur Machen within contemporary psychogeographical debate. By introducing the work of Sinclair and Self, Coverley fleshes out how the act of wandering was for Machen and reveals some of the tensions that psychogeography incorporates. He discusses Machen’s walks in London, his purpose for walking and the influence of the flâneurs, making reference to specific regions of London in regards to Machen’s texts. The essay elucidates two ‘fields’ of psychogeography: the Situationist strand and that of Earth Mystery. Coverley situates Machen within a psychogeographical lineage, in particular that of De Quincey and the North-West Passage, bringing a historical element to the volume.

Gareth E. Rees uses the urban phenomena of memorial benches as a way of exploring the themes of memory, memorabilia and the landscape. The author includes fictional dialogue and a storyline to fill in the gaps in what he perceives might be the lives of the people memorialised on the benches. Rees adds moments from his own life which are sparked by the aesthetics of the terrain, in particular the protagonist of the essay, his childhood friend Mike. This poignant and witty essay reflects the creative aspect of urban walking and the author demonstrates how the affective response to space can be used to produce a literary text.

Looking at psychogeography from the differing perspectives of a community artist and an academic researcher, the two essays in Power and Place discuss how urban walking can be used in an activist way through the insertion of the body into socio-political space. By demonstrating how psychogeography can become an intervention once applied to the modus operandi of a specific group, these authors explore and critique the way collectives of individuals can challenge dominant power structures through the act of walking. Analysing the more anarchic nature of psychogeography, today and in the past, these texts offer specific case studies so as to critique their efficacy as a means of radical political engagement and social change.

Christopher Collier’s chapter foregrounds this section by providing the historic background of the Situationist’s project of psychogeography within a framework of ontology and deconstruction. This academic essay examines the literary heritage of psychogeography and the problem of seeing its critical origins as being solely located in 1950s Europe. The chapter discusses the problematic of the term ‘psychogeography’, introducing contemporary psychogeographers to explore some of the ideas related to its (mis)use, appropriation and circulation. It discusses both the 1990s and the current resurgence of the practice and includes many useful examples and practitioners.

As the organiser of the Loiterers’ Resistance Movement (LRM), Morag Rose provides a personal overview of the origins and aims of the group within the context of her own experience as an anarcho-flâneuse. The author discuses concepts such as diversity and democracy within the LRM, offering her essay in a journal format in order to introduce the practice of walking as it is for the group. Rose demonstrates the passion some individuals have for city life and how this can be expressed through engaging with it on a very concrete level. She believes psychogeographical practices should be made accessible to anyone who is interested and that engaging with your city can be ludic and political at the same time.

By examining the walking and spatial practices of individuals who specialise in psychogeography as a critical methodology, the essays in Practicing Psychogeography/Psychogeographical Practices look at how it can be used as a tool and developed in particular ways so as to offer the practice as an analytical device. The urban walkers represented here have worked through their walking strategies and created their own specific type of urban walking. These customised psychogeographies suit the individual requirements of the practitioners, enabling them to analyse the city in a very specific way. The first two essays deal with the formulation of psychogeography as a methodology, while the last one looks at the various aspects of setting up a walk for the purposes of research.

In his chapter Smith provides the background to mythogeography, explaining how it emerged and developed over time. He compares mythogeography to historical walking practices such as that of the SI, and introduces many useful contemporary references. This reflective and critical chapter describes the evolution of a walking practice which has changed over time, providing examples of the walks and collectives involved. The essay also includes a useful discussion on the de-politicisation of psychogeography.

I developed my own form of urban walking critique at the beginning of my PhD. Required to create a methodology that would stand up to academic rigour, I used the psychogeographical practices of the SI to underpin my own approach which I call ‘schizocartography’. Incorporating psychogeography alongside a Marxist-oriented and poststructuralist analysis of space, I use Félix Guattari’s theory on critiquing the institution of psychiatry, and his work in Brazil, to develop schizocartography as a spatial tool. Schizocartography is a process that, while analysing the space under review, looks for the plurivocality presented there, offering counter events that might be occurring behind the veil of the everyday and that challenge the dominant representation of that space.

Victoria Henshaw specialises in sensory walking and has developed it as a methodology that provides qualitative research on the city. Her essay discusses the implications of organising sensory walks in regard to selecting sites, route selection and research data. Henshaw introduces the smellwalks she has carried out in Doncaster and with the Smell and the City Project, explaining the suitability of particular cities for research and the practical considerations for leading the walks themselves. The more formal science-based writing style of Henshaw’s essay (and Bonnett’s mentioned above) compliment the more ‘relaxed’ style of the creative-writing aesthetic of the psychogeographical accounts in the volume.

The contributions in Outsider Psychogeography do not sit within the usual arts-based humanities walking practices previously discussed. Here the authors use the interdisciplinarity of psychogeography within their own academic field in creative and constructive ways in order to introduce it to a discipline that might otherwise not consider it a standard practice. These essays look at how psychogeography can be used within the social sciences as a way of helping individuals via a direct engagement with urban space. The essays also open discussion on the value of psychogeography in its acknowledgement as an affective methodology.

Andrea Capstick, a lecturer in Dementia Studies, looks at remembering and amnesia in dementia patients and their ‘wandering’ narratives around a sense of place, such as getting physically lost and the act of forgetting. The author takes a spatio-temporal look at walking, place and the past, connecting ‘signposts’ that take the form of real events and places, to the patient’s narrative as a way of validating and understanding them better. This chapter brings social science, walking-based literature, philosophy, social history and psychogeography together. The essay includes qualitative research in the form of walking interviews and the author’s own research in verifying the validity of the participant’s memory of place.

Alexander John Bridger discusses the issues around using psychogeography within a predominantly behavioural/cognitive (and sometimes reductionist) discipline such as psychology. The author provides his own examples of walks and drift methodology to elucidate people’s experience in relation to their environment so as to examine the concept of détournement and to open discussion on mobile-methods research. Bridger attempts to introduce psychogeography within his own discipline as a way of helping other’s understand their spatial environment and therefore help them realise their lived experience more fully. He introduces references from his own field, and that of urban walking and spatial critique, so as to champion psychogeography in a discipline where it might be disregarded because of being considered ‘unscientific’.

Related links:
Walking Inside Out – Summary
My Name is Tina and I’m a Psychogeographer: Situating the Addictions and Abuses of Psychogeography Today

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Park Tower Knightsbridge: Corn-on-the-Cob

While at the Royal Geographical Society this week, I went for a stroll over to Knightsbridge and discovered another one of Richard Siefert’s buildings: The Park Tower (1973). Originally the Sheraton Park Tower (and previously the Skyline Park Tower Hotel) it is compared to Elmbank Gardens in Glasgow (according to Wikipedia), but how they could not compare it to One Kemble Street in Holborn is a serious oversight.

Park Tower was renovated in 2013 and the Hyde Park Penthouse Suite sells at £7,200/night in this brutalist hotel. You pay extra for your own butler. The cheapest room I could find was £319.
Centre Point is often considered to be Seifert’s most famous building, but it’s Tower 42 that’s actually my favourite London building. A few of his buildings have been demolished in recent times, Wembley Conference Centre, for instance.

On www.postwarbuildings.com it describes The Park Tower thus:
The building consists of a 15-storey rotunda housing 300 bedrooms, on a two-storey podium containing bars, a lobby and reception areas. The tower is formed of a reinforced-concrete service core, around which rooms are massed on a frame supported by pilotis at podium level. The most distinctive feature of the Park Tower is the façade treatment of the rotunda. Likened by Charles Jencks to corn-on-the-cob, each of the twenty rooms per floor, is articulated by a projecting bay window and clad in ochre mosaic. This gives the building an extremely tactile surface, while the rhythm of the windows goes some way to alleviating the bulk and emphasizing the vertical. This cellular façade treatment was a particularly Seifert architectural device and many of his buildings share this motif.

Relates blogs:
Negotiating Brutalist Space at the University of Leeds
Brutalist Access Points and Disappeared Stationers

Thursday, 14 August 2014

‘Lose Yourself in Melbourne’

The Psychogeography of Urban Architecture by David Prescott-Steed

I’ve recently read the above book by sound artist and urban explorer David Prescott-Steed (Academy of Design, Melbourne). It has the informal writing style of psychogeographical texts that originate from creative writing rather than academia, which I really liked.

I especially enjoyed the introduction, which is rather more a wander through Melbourne than an actual introduction to the book, but the better for it. I’m going to include one paragraph of the introduction which mentions an advert for the city of Melbourne and include the link to the film itself
Lose Yourself in Melbourne.

“While the endless movement of the city shows it to be a place of many motivations and meanings, the Lose Yourself in Melbourne advertisement asks the viewer forget about all of these familiar patterns with which they might experience the city, such as where they involve our engagement in shopping or working. It invites the viewer, you and me, to let down our guard; to loosen up by letting go of preconceived, city-based goals. It wants us to sweep aside all of these conceivably routine or boring things. It invites us, instead, to simply ‘make it all up’ as we go along. When I first saw this advertisement, it was if it was asking: ‘Why get so consumed in all of the routine? The city is your built environment, of course. But why not use it for playing in? Why not embrace your opportunity to improvise everyday life? Quite literally, this is a chance to think on your feet. Take the shops, offices and street, and turn them into your playground.’”

The book is published by BrownWalker Press (2013)

Related Links:
Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography
How We Used to Live – A Psychogeography of Your London

Saturday, 26 July 2014

How We Used To Live – A Psychogeography of Your London

I rarely come out of a film feeling uplifted, or think this is my best film of [insert year]. Some of my years don’t even have my-best-film-ofs attached to them, as the films I saw were all so unmemorable. However my favourite film of 2014 is How We Used to Live (2013), written by Paul Kelly and Travis Elborough. I saw it this week at the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds.

I’ve never been a fan of Ian MacShane, but he was the narrator and his voice was marvellous. There was a spooky resemblance to John Hurt’s narration on the Art of Noise’s The Seduction of Claude Debussey (“imagine me saying the following”). The timbre of their voices is so similar. Interestingly, the music was not dissimilar to the Art of Noise, as St Etienne provided the soundtrack.

I should image that anyone who can remember the 60s, or who knows London from maybe at least the 80s, would find this film extremely nostalgic. From fashion, to music, to social history, we are taken through the decades from the late 50s. But this is not a stuffy overly sentimental historic trip. It is also amusing and includes strange little moments, like a young woman in a green dress being grabbed off the street and put into the back of a car. What happened to her? We don’t know. But the film is more because of these quirky moments.

The film uses British Film Institute archive footage and the film format reflects this history – no widescreen format for the postwar Brit. Also, the aesthetics of the titles, etc, is in keeping with the period:
“Whenever you go down the road, you travel not in three dimensions, but in four. The fourth dimension is the past.”
You can read a Channel 4 review here: Can You Spot the London You Know?

Related links:
For my favourite film of 2013: The Great Walk - A Film, a Mystery, a Cult. . .
Film overviews: Le Pont Du Nord and Urbanized

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Pas le Grand Départ Dérive (part 2)

The Pleasure of the Gerbil

This is the second part of the account of my not-the-grand-départ dérive (click here for part 1). These blogs have been written in the style of Patrick Keiller’s ‘Robinson’ films, but the protagonist is Sister Moonshine and the Robinson character myself. The blogs also use the theory of the semiologist Roland Barthes from his book Mythologies.

We crossed the Ring Road and headed for New Road Side, where the psychogeographer assured me there would be more bikeage. We spotted a cyclist on the Ring Road, although he wasn’t wearing yellow and appeared to be going in the wrong direction.

As we got to Horsforth’s other High Street, the psychogeographer approached the pet shop and, hoping it would be open in order to buy chewing paraphernalia for myself because “Chewing seems to be your raison d’etre”, she tried the door. It was shut. We both looked down the length of New Road Side. Not a yellow T-shirt, Union flag or handle-bar in sight.

She couldn’t hide her disappointment, having hoped to put up more posters of myself making, what she thought were, amusing comments in speech bubbles. I asked her what Barthes would say about the High Street. She said that despite him not being considered a psychogeographer, she could see much in his texts that referred to urban space and had just submitted a paper to a conference dedicated to Roland Barthes on this very subject.

As the psychogeographer drank a take-away coffee from one of those High Street coffee chains she criticises so much, I spotted these yellow markings on the road and asked if the council had painted them to match the yellow T-shirts. She spluttered an incoherent reply. Then I spotted this sign!

I hoped it wouldn’t start her off again, following the earlier response to the same sign we had seen nearer home. But she seemed happy to be able to reach the board this time and forgot her rant about how capital seemed to have an arrangement whereby it could bring all creative production within its sphere and successfully commodify it.

In the absence of any more signs of the Grand Départ, she started to photograph random objects, so I decided to distract her with further questions about Barthes: “What does Roly say about the aesthetics of place?” I said. She replied “In ‘From Work to Text’ he provides a beautiful example of someone walking in a dry valley and how all the available sensations – sounds, images, smells – make a plurality of meaning available to the stroller that are multi textual, displaying the heterogeneity of space that is very personal, taking into account the individual as much as it does the environment itself”. I asked her if this was anything like the assault course she makes on her bed for me. She gazed down the dual-carriageway and said in a considered way “We are all psychogeographers…”.

We set off for home past The Ringway public house and saw that it was now closed. I asked if this might also be connected to the decline of the grand narratives of Lyotard’s she had mentioned earlier. She said it quite possibly was, but rather more to do with cheap supermarket lager and how it was sold as a ‘loss leader’. I realised I had accidentally got her onto her favourite subject again – capitalism – and felt we had come full circle, not only on our walk, but also in our discussion.

The psychogeographer then began paraphrasing some guy called Lefebvre who, she said, had been a Situationist at one time. I managed to catch: “the space of capitalism is hegemonic and depends on consensus more than any space before it ever has”. I didn’t really understand this in relation to alcohol, thinking it was a bit of a leap, but I couldn’t face listening to a long explanation if I asked for clarification. Also, I was really looking forward to getting home, taking off my psychogeographer mantle, and just chillaxing in my coconut shell…

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Pas le Grand Départ Dérive (part 1)

Gerbil Lucida

I hadn’t had a proper conversation with the psychogeographer for a while because, as she said, “I have been deeply mired in the academic machinations of my viva”. But yesterday we discussed the pros and cons of the Grand Départ in Yorkshire. She apparently had reservations, the same as those she’d had over the London Olympics when she wrote ‘The Perturbed Psychogeographer: Contemplating Olympic Space, the Shard and Architectural Phalluses in General’. I asked her to summarise, for a laygerbil, what these reservations were. She explained she was torn between the community aspect it would hopefully encourage and the neoliberal co-opting of it by capital.

I suggested that we seek out, in our local area, contributions and acknowledgements to community spirit as it related to the Grand Départ and also look for signs of capital appropriation in Horsforth at the same time. She thought a semiology of the signs would be useful and advised we take a Barthesian view of the locale, entitling our blog by appropriating Roland Barthes' book titles.

We set off up Broadgate Lane where the only sign of the Grand Départ was the use of a yellow T-shirt on a letting agent’s sign, but the psychogeographer couldn’t reach it in order to put up her poster, so we moved on while she mumbled something about the preposterous connection between cycling livery and house rentals. By the time we had almost hit Town Street, 15 minutes into our walk, I suggested that maybe the Grand Départ had departed or perhaps had never even arrived in the first place. Then we saw out first piece of bikeage. This cycle was attached to the railings outside the Retirement Home:

In the High Street itself the best contribution was at the community café, where there were two decorated bikes.

In response to my witty remark about wanting ketchup with my Grand Départ, the psychogeographer collected her posters and blue tack and marched off down the road in search of more signs. I shouted after her “There appears to be some prejudice directed at gerbils here! Why are all the T-shirts only made for cats?”. When I caught up with her I asked: “In what cultural epoch can you situate this breakdown of community and why?”. She replied that in poststructural theory a French guy called Lyotard wrote The Postmodern Condition where he discusses the decline of grand narratives, which she believed was part of the glue that held people together, rightly or wrongly. I looked up postmodernism on my phone. A book called Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism appeared by someone called Jameson. I then understood her interest in postmodernism.

It wasn’t until we were getting towards the other end of the High Street that more signs appeared. In the toy shop window there were lots of mini yellow T-shirts, but apparently still none small enough for a gerbil. I asked the psychogeographer why she liked Barthes. She said that despite the fact that capitalism mobilises individuals through dominant signs, via anti-production and even through their very consciousness, she liked the way Barthes enabled meaning to be plural. She then started rambling about his Mythologies, quoting vast paragraphs. I managed to jot down: “But there always remains, around the final meaning, a halo of virtualities where other possible meanings are floating: the meaning can almost always be interpreted.”

The florists opposite had made an effort, but we had pretty much reached the end of the High Street by then. I asked the psychogeographer if we should go home and she suggested heading for Horsforth’s other High Street, across the Ring Road. So off we set, past the cycle shop, Holyspokes, and towards New Road Side as she continued to lecture me on the tensions between what she said were molar power structures and local, personal, rhizomatic molecular networks…

Please click here for part 2 of this Keilleresque blog: The Pleasure of the Gerbil

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Vernacular Mapping

Joe Gerlach’s article on vernacular mapping, ‘Lines, Contours and Legends: Coordinates for Vernacular Mapping’, looks at micropolitical actions in relation to cartography. He states: “Vernacular mapping inheres in the material co-production of cartographies by humans and non-humans alike whereby the underlying ethos remains intensely political, but in a tenor distinct from the representational politics allied traditionally to maps” (2013: 2). He summarises it as “the co-production of knowledges, materials and spaces” (2013: 10). Offering vernacular mapping as a model that integrates other mapping practices such as counter maps and indigenous mapping practices, Gerlach sees them as assemblages of enunciation and valid expressions of affective responses to space (2013: 11-13).

The assemblages of community that can be formed out of joined-up lines of flight, enable a cartography to appear that can become vernacular in its response: “these cartographic lines perform. Likewise, in their unfolding effects and affects, lines are performative” (Gerlach 2013: 5). The lines of flight are performative inasmuch as they are both transversal – taking untraditional routes – and execute actions. The schizocartography reflected in the map above highlights what Gerlach would describe as “cartographic articulations” and it is this that makes it performative (2013: 13). The map represents the culmination of a number of dérives carried out on the University of Leeds campus during the summer of 2009 which were carried out in conjunction with members from Leeds Psychogeography Group. Cartographic articulations operate against the grain, counter to the well-trodden urban path, while at the same time recognising the dominant structure for what it is, what it does and what it represents.

Please click here for an online article on Vernacular Mapping on Campus

Gerlach, Joe. ‘Lines, Contours and Legends: Coordinates for Vernacular Mapping’, Progress in Human Geography, July (2013), 1-18.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Cognitive Mapping

While Fredric Jameson dedicates Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism to the cognitive map problem, he does not provide a definitive answer on how to proceed. However, he does offer his analysis on the concept of cognitive mapping as it appears within postmodern theory:
These are, then, not really theories, but rather themselves unconscious structures and so many afterimages and secondary effects of some properly postmodern cognitive mapping, whose indispensable media term now passes itself off as this or that philosophical reflection on language, communication, and the media, rather than the manipulation of its figure (2009: 417).
He highlights the problem at its most fundamental level: if the system itself does not change, then all we are able to do is contemplate it within its system of effects (and with the tools) it produces. This is not a new problem for theory – the inside/outside dichotomy of language – but, it does leave us with the perennial problem of where to go. The concepts highlighted above – such as the need for tools to navigate the environment, and the materiality of space and its system of effects – lend themselves to discussion within the field of psychogeography and under the umbrella of cognitive maps, also.

Roger M. Downs and David Stea’s Maps in Minds: Reflections on Cognitive Mapping (1977) is an extensive geo-psychological study of cognitive mapping, although it does not deal with mental and physical space in any political sense. It offers a concise study of psychogeographical cognitive effects and provides definitions of cognitive mapping: “Cognitive mapping is an abstraction covering those cognitive or mental abilities that enable us to collect, organize, store, recall and manipulate information about the spatial environment” (1977: 6). They explain that cognitive maps are not just visual images contained in our minds but are also connected to our other senses (1977: 23). While they acknowledge ‘the social’ as one part of what influences our cognitive maps, they do not deal with the complexities of postmodernity as it pertains to culture and/or capitalism. However, since their text was published in 1977, it may have been too early to take a retroactive position on postmodern space.

In his essay ‘Cognitive Mapping the Dispersed City’, Stephen Cairns cites Kevin Lynch’s The Image of the City as his own influence. While Lynch provides an analysis by form – looking at various urban elements such as paths, landmarks and edges – he adopts a post-war narrative, the book being written in 1960. Cairns’s critique is in the way that Lynch’s cognitive mapping may be further used to decentre the subject in the form of how they appear as “‘the user’, ‘the community’ and ‘the people’” (2006: 193). This could be seen as both positive and negative, depending on differing perspectives attached to ‘where you stand’. Decentring is considered a common position for the individual to take up in the postmodern text (such as in deconstruction). When that text is the city landscape, this may enable an opening up of other views of the city, such as its edgelands. It encourages differing perspectives with regard to a sense of place. However, the concept of decentring may be considered as a devaluing of the citizen in the centre of public life (as it pertains to the city as civic centre).

Cairns is concerned with what is not representable in and of the city. Citing Harvey, Jameson, Baudrillard and Debord, he discusses the material reality of the city with its postmodern problems of wayfinding, while seeking out its ‘blind spots’ in an attempt to answer some questions about cognitive mapping. These “blind spots” appear on “a refined spectrum between social space and architectural space such that conventional representational logics simply cannot register them” (2006: 203).

Please click here for a free online article on Cognitively Mapping the Campus

Related Links:
GPS Trails on Campus
Blue Plaques on Campus

Cairns, Stephen. 2006. ‘Cognitive Mapping the Dispersed City’, in Christoph Lindner (ed.), Urban Space and Cityscapes: Perspectives From Modern and Contemporary Culture (London and New York: Routledge), pp. 192-205.
Downs, Roger M. and David Stea. 1977. Maps in Minds: Reflections on Cognitive Mapping (London and New York: Harper and Row).
Jameson, Fredriç. 2009. Postmodernism or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (London and New York: Verso).

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Open Source Mapping: GPS Trails on Campus

The following map shows the GPS trails of people who have walked around the University of Leeds campus area and have then loaded their data onto OpenStreetMap. OpenStreetMap is open source software by the OpenStreetMap Foundation and is a collaboration by its contributors providing free geographical data and mapping. Anyone can contribute by signing-up online. The data shown in the map below shows the walks made by people walking around campus while at the same time logging their route using GPS software on their smartphone. They have subsequently loaded this information onto OpenStreetMap. Some of the data on this map goes back to the campus dérives I did with Leeds Psychogeography Group in 2009 and our walks actually appear within the consolidation of trails you can see on this map.

© OpenSteetMap Contributors and CC Tim Waters

These lines are made up of tiny dots which are overlaid in places. The dots make up a trail by an individual, which can be seen when zooming into the map online. Each dot represents the moment when the GPS picked up a signal of that individual’s location. The darker the line, the more people have carried out this process while walking that particular route. Speed is indicated by a greater gap between dots. Pauses appear as a density of dots. The GPS device might indicate a route taken on a cycle or, also, in a car.

What is interesting about the above map is that no map outline is included in the image, nevertheless the outline of the campus appears in the accumulation of dots, as you can see by looking at this map which is taken from the Chamberlin, Powel and Bon Development Plan.

© University of Leeds and Chamberlin, Powell and Bon

This map (and the previous one on Blue Plaques) show the infinite possibility for cartographies to become ways of presenting personal and qualitative information while also handing over a degree of control of the mapping process and end result to the user/cartographer. The open source software that is often used for these types of collaborations also, to a large extent, disengages it from capitalist production and, hence, provides much more freedom of expression, production and distribution.

Related Links:
Open Source Mapping: Blue Plaques on Campus

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Open Source Mapping: Blue Plaques on Campus

Blue Plaques are signs that are placed on places of historical interest and are administered by English Heritage. This map shows those Blue Plaques on the University of Leeds campus and in the surrounding area: for example, there is one dedicated to Clifford Allbutt who was a physician at the Medical School in Leeds and invented the first compact medical thermometer. There is also one on the Students’ Union for the band The Who, who played in the Refectory in February 1970. The gig spawned their famous album Live at Leeds.

CC Open Plaques and Tim Waters

These types of maps can be made for one’s own use by utilising open source software, such as, in this case, Open Plaques. Data can be filtered and the map scaled to fit one’s criteria. Many of the images that can be produced from open source software are often Collective Commons (CC) attributed, which provides much more freedom than a regular copyright.

Related Links:
Open Source Mapping: GPS Trails on Campus

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Walking Inside Out: Contribution Details

Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography

Here is further information on the upcoming Rowman and Litlefield volume, which I am editing and will be included in their Place, Memory, Affect series. This blog will give a brief summary of the essays that will be contained therein. Please click here for the previous blog on the volume, which gives you a more detailed overview of the book and links to the authors’ own work: Walking Inside Out.

While psychogeography in its broadest sense is as a method of urban walking which responds to and critiques the terrain, there are many different approaches to it. This can be because of the way the walking is carried out or in the way the practical work is written up or analysed. This book attempts to bring the work of literary/creative psychogeographers and academics together in an edited volume that looks critically at psychogeography today. Contributions are from academics and researchers, and from those working in the area of urban walking. The voices expressed here highlight and explore the setting and climate as it is for psychogeography in the UK in the 21st Century. The essays provide current examples of contemporary psychogeographical practices, demonstrating the differences between them. Examples of the different forms of urban walking are discussed alongside different theoretical approaches. This book represents psychogeography is aimed at scholars, students and urban walkers alike.

How the City Appears
This section looks at visual urban phenomenon from communist architecture to public sculptures. Concentrating on the appearance of the urban landscape and how walking with a critical eye opens up the spaces in which we live and move, these essays draw our attention to both the aesthetics of the cityscape and the minutiae that can be easily overlooked on a casual stroll.
Roy Bayfield
This essay comprises an account of a walk undertaken on the Sefton coastline of North West England in August 2013, with collaborators Robyn Woolston (artist) and Irene Delgado-Fernandez (physical geographer). An objective was set: to connect two types of human intervention on the coast, Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ sculptures (‘art’) and a university research site that monitors the movement of dunes over time (‘science’).
Luke Bennett
In his essay Bennett will set out a psychogeographically informed account of the multiple lives of a small spot of pavement in order to explicate this rich realm and its various facets and tensions. In doing so he will also reflect on the novelty of this approach, and the survival strategies that he has evolved, in order to endeavour to justify this preoccupation and set of methodological strategies within the academic disciplines to which he is affiliated.

Phil Wood
Wood is drawn to places of neglect and abandonment, especially in isolated and obscure parts of Eastern Europe. He is intrigued by the region’s turbulent history of both cultural conflict and hybridity. Wood’s journeys are unaccompanied, deliberately under-planned and occasionally serendipitous. Most are illicit with a frisson - not always imagined - of danger. His essay includes walks around Kaliningrad, Lviv and Odessa.
Memory, Historicity, Time
One of the ways past psychogeographical accounts have been used is to understand the aesthetics of a particular city at a specific moment in time. The three essays contained here deal with explorations and knowledge of the cityscape (in the past and today), by examining personalised accounts and histories. They reflect on how space is mapped out and how it is connected to memory, culture and geographical space.
Merlin Coverley
Arthur Machen’s self-proclaimed ‘London Science’ was a means of gaining mastery over his adopted city through an exhaustive attempt to map and communicate the otherworldly atmosphere of late nineteenth-century London streetlife, through an exploration of the outermost reaches of the suburban city. These urban wanderings were documented in works such as The London Adventure (1924). 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of his birth, and this essay will outline his pioneering contribution to psychogeographical ideas and practices.

Alastair Bonnett
The active and creative capacity of memory and nostalgia to both guide the steps of ex-residents and fashion critical forms of engagement within the city are addressed in this essay. Using interview material drawn from people who once lived on Tyneside, it examines how the past, present and future are mapped onto spatial practice. This argument drawn into dialogue the memory rich content of literary psychogeography, contrasted with the anti-nostalgic strategies of avant-garde psychogeography.
Gareth Rees
This essay looks at a common urban phenomenon - memorial benches - as a way of exploring how human identities are encoded in the landscape. Like many coastal towns, Hastings is a repository of memory, where people come to contemplate the past, as well as to create new memories. As Gareth E Rees drifts through the town, tragic moments from his life are reanimated by the topography, while the voices of the dead begin to speak.
Power and Place
Looking at psychogeography from the perspective of an artist, writer and academic researcher, these essays discuss how urban walking can be used in an activist way through the insertion of the body into socio-political space. By demonstrating how psychogeography can become an intervention once applied to the modus operandi of a specific group, these authors explore and critique the way collectives of individual can challenge dominant power structures through the act of walking. Looking at the activist nature of psychogeography, today and in the past, these texts offer and examine specific case studies so as to analyse its efficacy as a means of radical political engagement and social change.
Ian Marchant
This essay documents a series of psychogeographical interventions by the agri-prop theatre company, Reborn Rebecca. The Welsh Rebecca Riots against taxation continued in Radnorshire into the 1930’s. Reborn Rebecca revives this tradition via a series of documented walks to Powys CC Headquarters to demand that they vacate County Hall, giving the buildings over to the Free University of Radnorshire. This essay asks: are psychogeographical examinations of power over land possible outside the city?

Morag Rose
This essay offers field-notes from autoethnographic experiments in Feminist anarcho-flânerie. Inspired by the Situationist International there is an explicit political agenda to Rose’s walks which reveal power relationships and inequalities within Manchester. Using psychogeography as a tool for community engagement she blurs the boundaries between activism, art and academia. This essay gives voice to some of the tales uncovered by her adventures and explores the potential of dérive methodology.
Christopher Collier
Enjoying a resurgence in the 1990s, psychogeography has seen further renewal within contemporary practices. However, the drift of psychogeography away from antagonistic and autonomous contexts into more institutional forms requires a reconsideration of any claims to criticality. Collier proposes that recent artistic iterations of psychogeography potentially fail to account for the convergence of their playful, participatory methodologies with the recombinant modes of subject construction that characterise contemporary post-Fordism.
Practising Psychogeography/Psychogeographical Practices
By examining the walking and spatial practices of individuals who specialise in psychogeography as a critical methodology, these essays look at how it can be used as a tool and developed in specific ways so as to put forward the practice as an analytical device. These urban walkers have worked through their walking strategies, and created their own type of psychogeography, which suits their own individual requirements, enabling them to analyse the city in a specific way.
Victoria Henshaw
Sensory walks have emerged in recent years as a form of psychogeography which seeks to explore sensory characteristics of the environment and their perception by people, by examining experiences gained through one or more of the senses whilst walking through physical, usually urban environments. However, the characteristics of the sites through which sensory walks are implemented impacts directly upon the experiences gained, the data collected and the resulting overall findings and thus if a pre-identified route is to be selected, this warrants careful consideration. Drawing from experiences of implementing smellwalks in cities across the world and focussing specifically on a detailed study with fifty-two participants in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, and subsequent group smellwalks in European and North American cities, this chapter includes examples of issues encountered whilst undertaking and designing such sensory research.

Phil Smith
Smith will consider the central role of multiplicity in mythogeography and its reconnection to certain strands within British psychogeography, such as the workings of Alan Moore and Tim Perkins and the ‘drifts’ of organisations like the Loiterers Resistance Movement. He will argue that mythogeography continues to pose a challenge to certain limited and revivalist elements, but at the same time celebrates the panoply of practices that even where there is no acknowledgement of the influence of the tradition of the International Lettristes/Situationist International, betrays a knowledge of them.

Tina Richardson
Richardson's essay will be on her own psychogeographical practice, schizocartography. She has developed this particular urban exploration methodology from the psychogeography of the Situationists and the theory of the philosopher/psychoanalyst Félix Guattari. Concentrating on the concepts of affect and aesthetics, Richardson has taken Guattari’s theory on "schizoanalytic cartographies" and applied it to psychogeography, using archival explorations and philosophical enquiry in order to help bring a particular form of theoretical critique to urban space. Schizocartography attempts to discover the tensions between discourses of power in space and the social history and heterogeneity hidden in the topography. This essay will be in addition to the introductory essay.
Outsider Psychogeography or Walking ‘Outside the Box’
The two contributions in this section do not sit within the usual arts-based humanities walking practices, with the authors using psychogeography in their own discipline in creative and constructive ways. These essays look at the interdisciplinary nature of psychogeography and how it can be introduced into the social sciences as a way of helping individuals via an engagement in urban space. They also open discussion of the value of psychogeography in its acknowledgement as an affective methodology.
Andrea Capstick
For many people with dementia, memory for places known in their youth remains strong in the face of difficulties they now have with short-term memory. This essay draws on a series of walking interviews with people diagnosed with dementia in order to explore a more collective reconstruction of place memory.

Alex Bridger
Some of the main limitations of psychological research on environments are that there has been scant focus on how people politically experience their social worlds. Moreover, much of the existing research in psychology is limited in terms of focusing only on place-identity and studying behavioural processes as if cognitions and attitudes are ‘things’ that can be found in peoples’ heads. Bridger will explain what the limits are of that existing research and will explain why an anarchic, anti-psychological and radical critique of environments is needed. Bridger makes an argument for a situationist-psychoanalytically informed approach to psychogeography. He will draw on specific psychoanalytical concepts including free association and disorientation.