Psychogeography – Where Psychology and Geography Collide.Posted: February 19, 2014
Before beginning to create my own psychgeography maps from which to take inspiration for works from I began with some research into what psychogeography is, where it came from and its who its practitioners are. I am currently reading the book ‘Psycogeography’ by Merlin Coverley which is an introduction to psychogeography and an analysis of its key figures and their works.
I shall present my notes as they are recorded in my sketch book.
- Psychogeography has resisted definition through a shifting series of interwoven themes – constantly reshaped by practitioners.
- It is a literary movement, a political strategy, a series of new age ideas, a set of avant-garde practises and much more.
- The bigger more well known names associated with it are: Guy Debord and the Situationist’s, Iain Sinclair, Peter Ackroyd, Stewart Home, Will Self.
- Origins – Paris, 1950’s by the Lettrist group a forerunner of the Situatuionists International.
- Under Guy Debord it was a tool attempting to transform urban life, firstly for aesthetic purposes then increasingly as time went on for political ends.
- Debord’s oft-repeated definition ‘ The study of the specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.’
- Psychogeography – Where geography and psychology collide.
- psychogeography – Explaining behavioural impact of urban place.
- Situationists adopted a rigorous and scientific approach.
- Surrealists used a more playful and subjective approach and methods.
- Amongst the melange of ideas, events and identities predominant characteristics can be recognised:
- The act of walking.
- Political opposition to authority/ political radicalism.
- Playful sense of provocation and trickery.
- Search for new ways of apprehending the urban environment
- Overcoming banalisation.
- The literary tradition of London writing as a precursor to psychogeography including writers such as Defoe, de Quincey, Robert Louis Steverson and Arthur Machen. A uniformly dark picture of the city.
- Sinclair and Ackroyd tend (particularly representative of this) to dramatise the city (mostly London) as a place of dark imaginings.
- Most contemporary psychogeography approximates more to form of local history than to any geographical investigation.
- Iain Sinclair said ‘ William Blake is ‘the Godfather of psychogeography’ with his emphasis on the imaginative reconstruction of the city (London) : the transformation of familiar landscapes/ cityscapes of his own time and place into a transcendent image of the eternal city.