Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Psychogeography for Aberdeen.

From Urbansquares Photoblog:
Describing [the] technique and practice of psychogeography requires going back in time to the post second world war years full of enthusiasm for the renewal of humanity and huge step in rejuvenated civilization. It was first described by Guy Debord, writer and philosopher, prominent member of the “Situationist” movement, in 1955 as: “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals“.

It was an aspect of the situationists’ wider drive to achieve a revolutionary transformation of everyday life. They were insisting on pedestrianism to experience astonishment and encrypted events of the city. Most popular technique dérive (drift) was first step toward an urban praxis and psychogeographical articulation of the modern city. Dérive is a stroll through the urban environment usually by group of people with an attempt to understand and interpret [the] complex language of urban space.

Situationist saw in the cities “repressed desires” and a possibility to by turning them around get engaged in a “playful reconstructive behaviour”. They used this tool to expose scandalous poverty of everyday life, [the] contrast of what it could be and what [it] presently is. It was a harsh critique of “our commodified consumer society so that our repressed desires of a more authentic nature could come forward”.


John Aberdein said...

"The sudden change of ambiance in a street within the space of a few meters; the evident division of a city into zones of distinct psychic atmospheres; the path of least resistance that is automatically followed in aimless strolls (and which has no relation to the physical contour of the terrain); the appealing or repelling character of certain places — these phenomena all seem to be neglected. In any case they are never envisaged as depending on causes that can be uncovered by careful analysis and turned to account."
—Guy Debord, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography

If the flâneur (stroller, loiterer) and the badaud (gawper) were the gourmet and gourmand of 19th century street life - how best to characterise the role of the psychogeographer now? And to what extent do 'dérive' and 'drift' indicate best how to proceed?

Alan said...

Hiya John.
I think that part of what we're trying to do with "2nd Generation" Psychogeography (as Peter Burnett puts it) is to provide feedback into the "Happiness Agenda"