Landscape – we don’t catch it with the eyes like a mirror, suddenly. But with many glances we create an image while seeing, while observing and looking around. Our environment is normally not perceived, and if it is, it tends to be in terms of the observer’s preconceived ideas. As artists we deal not only with these prefabricated ideal images, but with the reality they eliminate.
Most modern landscapes weren’t designed to be seen, they were designed to be read, half-consciously. While walking we bring the world that surrounds us back into our consciousness.
Psychogeographic research has its roots in the arts or at the point of a junction where art, architecture, geography, psychology and philosophy intersect. The term was initially influenced by The Situationist International, a left wing, avant-garde group of European artists and intellectuals founded in 1957.
If psychogeography investigates what influence the architectural or geographical environment has on perception, mental experience and behaviour, we can ask what are the characteristics of structures by which we are surrounded on a daily basis – the visible and invisible infrastructures of cities like London.
This is a walking-based project led by 2019-20 co-presidents Adalberto Lonardi (MA Interior Design) and Katharina Siegel (MA Sculpture), following on from the Walkative Across RCA projects led by Simon King and Jaspar Joseph-Lester between 2013-15 which evolved into the student-led Walkative Society.
The workshop had as its outcome the publication and exhibition of 3 to 4 group projects. Input will be in the form of guest presentations that, inter alia, provide a history of psychogeography and art movements that explored ways of unleashing the subconscious imagination. From this, we pose a question: how do different places make us feel and behave? Groups will take this question as a starting point for their own research walking. Participants will be mapping an area of London taking into consideration modern or future social patterns. In collaboration with RCA graphic designer, José Garcia and Betty Brunfaut we will communicate the works in a self-published fanzine.
Psychogeography: A Means to an End, or an End in Itself?
Parallel Urbanisms: Los Angeles in Whitechapel
Steyerl, Hito, ‘The Wretched of the Screen’, Sternberg Press, 2012, pp. 212-230
Joseph-Lester, Jaspar, ‘(Re)turning to the image’, In: Aßman, S. et al., (ed.) Wenden: Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf das Phänomen. Springer VS, Wiesbaden. 2017
King, Simon, ‘Elephant Memory’, In: Joseph-Lester, J. et al., (ed.) Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol 10, Number 2, 1 May 2018
Further suggested reading:
Rem Koolhaas, ‘What Ever Happened To Urbanism?,’ in Theories and Manifestos of Contemporary Architecture, ed. Charles Jenks & Karl Kropf (Chichester, West Sussex: Academy Editions, 1997).
Kreider and O’Leary, ‘Fallen’, Copy Press, 2013.
Jacques Derrida, ‘The Decentering Event in Social Thought,’ in Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, ed. Charles Lemert (Westview Press, 1999).
Mark Fisher, ‘Capitalist Realism: Is there no Alternative?’ (Zero Books, 2009).
Roberto Toscano, ‘Cartographies of the Absolute’ (Zero Books, 2015).
Keller Easterling, Extra State Craft: The Power of Infrastructure Space, London: Verso, 2014.
Fredric Jameson, ‘Postmodernism or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’ (Verso, 1991).
Norman Klein, ‘The Vatican to Vegas: A History of Special Effects’ (The New Press, 2004).