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Posts Tagged ‘Psychogeography – Lesson Plans’

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Guide Psychogéographique de OWU (2009, med res jpg)

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During the week of June 15-19 (2009) five intrepid Ohio students and myself engaged in improvisational psychogeography, culminating in the map opening this post. A printable 11″ x 17″ (300dpi 1.4mb) PDF of the map is here.

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Picture 1

Map detail: The path taken through campus followed the outline of a wolfie hand-shadow cast on a campus map.

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Picture 2

Map detail: Stuff smelt, heard, and felt with its allure or disallure indicated with faces.

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The map was the product of a course – Mapping Weird Stuff – I offered at the OWjL (Ohio Wesleyan University Junior League of Columbus) summer camp for gifted and talented middle school students.

Based on the kid’s ideas and work collecting diverse data, I designed a layout and look for the map. The map itself was created in FreehandMX, now dead-tech thanks to Adobe (I still prefer Freehand even though I started with Illustrator back at version 1).

Making the map once again reminded me that it’s fun to make maps, if you have interesting stuff to map. The design and layout are certainly nothing one could generate with typical mapping software – thus the use of graphic illustration software. Diverse and interesting maps are not really the domain of web and pc-based map generation software. Maybe sometimes. Not usually.

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Picture 3

Map detail: An abstracted linear “map” sequencing smells, textures, and sounds from one end to the other of the path investigated.

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My vague intent was to do some kind of weird mapping project on campus – sensory mapping, psychogeography, etc. My search for resources for this age student (grades 6-8) resulted in a few finds, but not much. The materials I compiled on the course blog (here) served as the basis of our work, which developed as the students engaged the ideas. We met for 1.5 hours a day, for 5 days.

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kids

Special glasses indicate how serious we were about this project.
The
Hulk hand inspired confidence in our powers.

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The students, Django, Mallory, McKenna, Erica, and Ben, were great. They jumped into the project, came up with ideas that shaped our direction, and collected all of the data on the map. I had some ideas about what kind of psychogeography we would do, and what kind of map we would create, then it all transmogrified into something else which turned out great.

We did a dérive (“a technique of transient passage through varied ambiances”) to get a feel for the campus and its “resonances,” some blind-folded, ear-plugged tours through the campus (with me or one of the students leading the others along) collecting smells and sounds, as well as a few texture collection expeditions (inspired, in part, by Denis Wood’s Narrative Atlas of Boylan Heights project).

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Guiding much of our work was a single, inspiring Hulk hand.

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A bit of background on Psychogeography:

Psychogeography, according to its founder Guy Debord, is “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”

In practice, psychogeography inherently resists any narrow definitions. It encompasses diverse activities that raise awareness of the natural and cultural environment, is attentive to senses and emotions as they relate to place and environment, is often political and critical of the status quo, and must be both very serious and fun.

Psychogeography overlaps with Kevin Lynch’s work on mental maps, as nicely reviewed in Denis Wood’s article “Lynch Debord” as well as work on non-visual sensory-scapes (smellscape, soundscape, touchscape, tastescape, etc.).

The most famous psychogeography map is Debord’s Guide Pychogéographique de Paris:

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Guy Debord, Guide Pychogéographique de Paris

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grassyfoot

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