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:


Postcode Topographical Race

Someone at work raised this as a possible challenge the other day. To find the shortest route across London that takes in the most postcodes, i.e. the first part of the postcode E1, SW6 etc. May sound simple at first but three of us came up with different ideas for the most profitable routes. I thought an east-west route from Liverpool Street up to Angel and down across to Hyde Park would be a winner. Looking at a postcode map of London doesn’t make it much easier, although it looks like a route across Sw3-Sw6 and north might be a good one.
In judging such a thing, how would you do it?
Pedometers and camera phones – pedometers for the distance, cameraphone to snap street signs showing the postcode and recording the time. It could be a spectator sport if the pictures are blogged (as on this blog). Then the winner could be deduced by dividing the distance by the number of postcodes perambulated. I think there would have to be a creative differential to encourage contestants to be adventurous and really explore the city.
I’d appreciate any comments on this.