Early Adventures

Here is some early work on urban landscapes, and approaches to it, emerging from 1990s British Psychogeography.

I was in touch with Manchester Area Psychogeographic – particularly Bob Dickinson – before heading south to Goldsmiths to undertake my MA in 2003, where I carried on the tradition. I ran some walks as ‘Scape’ with Katherine Bourke during that time. I wrote an article called The Art of Navigation, for Street Signs, which is an account of one walk.

I took Street Signs from a stapled departmental newsletter to a proper publication during my MA year, eventually editing the first new issue along with Professor Les Back. My print design skills from my previous life enabled this.

The Scape walks were run with help from the CUCR, the Centre for Urban and Community Research. Michael Keith was particularly encouraging. He was the Centre Director at the time, as well as Labour MP for Tower Hamlets. Jim Segers of City Mine(d) was staying at Laurie Grove Baths. I remember his legs sticking out from under the desks in the morning, in a sleeping bag.

They were exciting times, but I became jaded with the political emptiness of a lot of what passed for Psychogeography, and so wrote another article for Street Signs, called Mind the Gap, Psychogeography as an Expanded Tradition, which emerged in 2007. I intended this to be a flag planted in the ground, that I could return to, but I never did. I wanted to start a PhD on British Psychogeographers in the 1990s, the ‘Magico-Marxists’. I registered the topic at Goldsmiths, and even got Chris Jenks to sign up as supervisor. Ultimately, I delayed and he moved to Brunel to become the Vice Chancellor. I attended a few conferences and events, notably the excellent TRIP festival at MMU in 2008, but I couldn’t get around my reluctance to align myself fully with contemporary versions of the subject.

I interviewed Patrick Keiller for Street Signs in 2003, and he confirmed my distance from politically-evacuated Psychogeography, but strongly reinforced my committment to investigating political landscapes, particularly on ‘The Island’.

As if to finally extinguish the subject for me, my extensive Psychogeography pamphlet collection subsequently burned down – along with me – in the house I rented, at 1am in 2014. I had publications by the AAA, LPA, MAP, Equi-Phallic Alliance, Stewart Home and Neoism, et al. To hecate with the landlord and estate agent. The final working, however, is ‘The Ashes’, which I kept. See the link to the right here…

This strange article for Street Signs in 2007, Ram Raiding the Modern Past, at a Garden Centre Near You, effectively straddles the divide between exploring political landscapes and Psychogeography. It foreshadows my interest in public and private space, and the way in which aesthetics and affects such as nostalgia tend to cover the power relations in social space. This piece is a suture between my earlier Psychogeographic work, coming out of a long engagement with British Art Schools, and my next phase, on Border Countries.