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off-topic | notes on psychogeography

probably off-topic — but

from David Sivier’s Mindscapes: the Development of Psychogeography

Going further into the realm of art, psychogeography has inspired groups of people to go out and explore the mystic, visionary aspects of the urban landscape. Moore’s `Beat Seance’, referred to above, is a case in point. At least in its CD form, it’s an hour long exploration of the weirder aspects of Highbury and its denizens, including Coleridge’s drug-induced hallucinatory peregrinations, Aleister Crowley’s residence, Joe Meek’s suicide and the 1923 football team’s brief experimentation with amphetamines, then legal, to assist their game, inter alia, all linked by their location in Highbury and grouped thematically according to the occult elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

As a piece of performance art, an exploration of the bizarre local history of one of London’s suburbs by a master of contemporary high strangeness, it works very well, according to your taste. To his credit, Moore doesn’t take psychogeography’s academic pretensions too seriously, wittily describing himself and his fellow performers as: ‘Rosicrucian heating engineers … cowboy operatives … read(ing) the street plan’s accidental creases and the orbit maps left by coffee cups.’ Moore intended it as art, and a mystical evocation of the spirit of a distinct place. It is not, however, intended as a work of serious history.

Other artists influenced by the mindset and techniques of psychogeography in their work are Ian Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd. Sinclair has stated in interviews that he believes “there are always these structures of domination and power and spirits, which can be articulated for ill within the grids, patterns and geometry of the city.” He did, however, reject the idea that there “was a sub-masonic cult that meet(s) in hidden rooms”, considering instead that “just the sheer fact of people endlessly having walked between this building and that building creates a band of consciousness which remains an active thing you can tap into.

Categories: psychogeography
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