an archaeology of the present

I’m doing a talk with Cathy on Wednesday 21st at Wycombe museum about the Remapping High Wycombe project. I’ve just been reviewing the powerpoint, seeing how we’ve presented our work to different audiences in the past, working out how we’ll pitch it this time. The interesting thing is that regardless of the audience when we talk about the derive, and “encountering the unknown facets of the known, astonishment on the terrain of boredom…” (Greil Marcus), it always gets a good reaction and people become intrigued about the process. It’ll be interesting to see how the midweek lunchtime audience at Wycombe museum react and what they’ll latch on to.

We’ll also show a map we made from comments posted on the Knowhere Guide, which are quite negative and focus on the violence and racial tension that some people pick up on in Wycombe, and see how people respond to that. Our Mytho-Historical Map is our response:

This talk will bring the project to a kind of conclusion, a year on from the Significant Sites event (almost to the day). We’ve to-ed and fro-ed on this but with the imminent publication of the written material (via Lulu) and hopefully a Dvd to go with it, we can draw a line under the work and move on to something new. Although, I think I’ll still find myself being drawn back by the psychogeographical articulations of the area.


Will Self’s Throne

Will Self writing chair
This is the rather majestic object that I’m currently auctioning on ebay on behalf of the great London wordsmith and some-time psychogeographer Will Self. He commissioned the chair from some students at Camberwell College of Art some ten years ago with the brief:
“Art Nouveau in feel,suitable for the Supreme Ruler of the Entire Known Universe, and a goodplace to both sit and think, and write.”
But not only will the winning bidder obtain the seat upon which one of Britain’s finest living writers gave birth to such tomes as ‘Great Apes’ and ‘How the Dead Live’, not to mention his Psychogeography column (which usually has nothing to do with psychogeography); but they will also get a visit from Mr Self himself as well as an essay (a limited edition of one) about its sordid history under his bum.
There’s still time to get it – auction ends tonight.


Shaping Places

Did a presentation for the Kent Architecture Centre last week on psychogeography and the derive in the context of the Remapping High Wycombe project that I worked on with Cathy.

So it was back to Wycombe, to BCUC, almost a year to the day since we did our Reframing Wycombe screening of archive films and five months since our last intervention, Significant Sites.
The conference was called Shaping Places, aimed at built environment professionals of all disciplines, teachers and artists; with an emphasis on engaging young people and the general community with architecture.

I opened up with Debord’s classical psychogeography, Sinclair’s fugue and reverie, and Greil Marcus’s quote about “encountering the unknown facets of the known etc.”; described our use of Social Fiction’s algorithmic derives, and showed the film we made about one of our Lunchtime Dérives with an office worker. Cathy spoke about her mapping workshop with Highcrest Community School.

The presentation seemed to be well received, particularly the notion of elevating a person’s own perception of place and the urban realm to the same level as traditional heritage, that a public loo in a car park could have the value as a listed Georgian building. Surprisingly, even urban planners seemed to welcome the idea that the dérive led people to question ownership and control of space, to ask who owned what and whether it was being used in the collective interest. I found this very encouraging.

There’s some more information about the presentation on the project blog: