thaw of the frozen lands
heat of volcanic flux
air of the salt lake
Now Playing: Kassel Jaeger – Deltas
We were disappointed not to be able to attend the recent Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography, which by all accounts was a great success.
The opening address by Phil Smith (aka Crab Man, aka Mythogeography), is a fascinating and thought-provoking missive on the state of psychogeography and the walking arts today. You can read, download and share it here:
One of the points Phil makes is the need to rethink the drift on a smaller scale. In the gaps, in the smallest fractures, in small disruptions to personal routines; the late running of a train that allows you a few minutes to explore the hinterland around a station.
A recent personal example was the unexpected distress visit to a garage when a section of exhaust pipe fell off the car. Whilst the new part was being sourced and fitted, a short walk around the immediate environs:
ed slab scree
c o b b l e s
c o b b l e d
in p O O l
Now playing: The Soft Machine – s/t (with a nod to Boyle Family).
Next Sunday, September 25th, we are participating in a social walk which takes its inspiration from tracing Ben Jonson’s journey from Culross Palace to Dunfermline Abbey nearly 400 years ago. The walk is part of a wider project initiated by the University of Edinburgh led by James Loxley and Anna Groundwater. Below you will find full details of the event and you would all be very welcome to join the walk in full or in part. If you require any further information please drop us a comment or contact Miranda Swift directly (miranda.swift (at) @ed.ac.uk)
Hope to see and meet some of you there!
From Miranda Swift:
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25TH
JOIN US IN TRACING BEN JONSON’S WALK FROM CULROSS PALACE TO DUNFERMLINE ABBEY
Detail from John Slezer’s Prospect of Dunfermline, 1693
Nearly 400 years ago, Ben Jonson travelled on foot from London to Edinburgh, and from there to Fife. He took his time, stopping at inns and private houses, meeting new people and socialising, listening to stories and telling his own. It’s this kind of travel that we’ve taken as the inspiration for a social walk from Culross Palace to Dunfermline, following the route that not only travellers like Jonson, but local folk as well, have long been taking.
Along with some fantastic collaborators from Forth Pilgrim the Fife Psychogeographical Collective and Fire Station Creative , we’ll be joined by a diverse crew of walkers, including storytellers, artists, musicians, and historians. To help us gather the sights and sounds of the landscape, as well as our responses to it, we’ve invited film and photography students from Fife College to come along, and we’d also like to encourage everyone to get involved with as much or as little participation as you like. Bring a sketchbook, a poem, a camera, or just your walking boots!
The total distance is 9 miles, however you’re welcome to join us at the start and leave at any point along the route, join us at our mid-way stop at Cairneyhill and carry on, or meet us at at the Fire Station Creative in Dunfermline at the end, and join in the party. We’ll be treated to some excellent live music from local Fife musician Andy Shanks, as we swap stories and rest our feet.
For a little bit of background on Ben Jonson’s walk, and the University of Edinburgh project, led by James Loxley and Anna Groundwater, which this walk is a part of, check out Ben Jonson’s Walk. James has also written up a blog post on our upcoming Fife Social walk, delving into Jonson’s attitude towards travel and discovery, which you can read here:
This walk is open to all, so please forward this information on to anyone who you think might be interested, and we look forward to meeting you.
10:15 – Meet outside the front of Culross Palace in the square, look for the bust of Admiral Cochrane
10:30 – James reads from Jonson’s account of the Palace
10:40 – Set off
13:00 – Refreshment break at The Maltings Hotel, Cairneyhill
16:00 – Finish at The Fire Station Creative, Dunfermline
16:00 – 19:00 – Social gathering with music, poetry, and good company
You may have noticed the yellow marks on our map. These are stopping points where some of our participants will be leading interactive sessions, which will include:
Local stories, myths, legends
Local history (George Bruce’s moat pit, Newmills Bridge, etc.)
Poetry readings (Thomas A. Clark’s ‘In Praise of Walking’)
Date: Sunday, September 25th
Time: 10:30 am – 4:00 pm
Start: Culross Palace
Finish: Fire Station Creative in Dunfermline. It is located next door to the new Tesco on Carnegie Drive, KY12 7AN.
Distance: 9 miles. Please refer to the maps attached for details of the route taken, marked in red.
Joining/Leaving: A convenient meeting place should you only want to walk part of the route is The Maltings Hotel, Cairneyhill. We aim to reach it by 1pm for a short refreshment break.
Transportation: Please refer to the bus schedule on Map 1 attached here. Bus 8 leaves stance 11 at Dunfermline Bus Station at 9:35 on Sunday, arriving Culross Palace at 10:03. Further bus information, including bus times from Culross and Cairneyhill to Dunfermline, are also attached to Map 1. Alternatively, visit the Stagecoach website, or ring 01592 645680 for up to date info.
Accessibility: The route will follow footpaths, though be aware that surfaces may be uneven in places, and you are responsible for your own safety when using them. We will be walking along the coast for the first half, and then walking up a couple of hills. It is not a difficult hike, but be prepared for a long walk, and remember to bring enough water with you.
Meal Break: Please bring a packed lunch with you. Due to the number of people and the time restrictions of the walk, we won’t have time to be served lunch in the hotel. There is a shop in Cairneyhill where you can buy a sandwich if you find you forgot yours, or need two!
If you have any further queries please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, the project administrator, via email or by phone. I’m always happy to chat about the project, and will hopefully be able to answer your questions. Also, if you could let me know if you will be attending, please let me know. Thanks in advance, and I hope to see you on the walk!
Another book review of From Hill to Sea. This time from Billy Mills, poet, editor, and literary journalist at guardian.co.uk. Billy also runs hardPressedPoetry press with fellow poet Catherine Walsh. Billy’s blog Elliptical Movements is a treasure trove of book reviews, poetry and generally interesting writing including an archive of Irish Women Poets. We are delighted that he has reviewed our book which can be read here.
Now playing: Wire – ‘Outdoor Miner’ from Chairs Missing
Many thanks to Coralie Acheson for this considered and thoughtful review of From Hill to Sea in furnace: The Postgraduate Journal of the Ironbridge International Institute of Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham.
The review can be read here.
Now playing: Joanna Brouk – Hearing Music
Delighted with this generous and perceptive review of our book From Hill to Sea which appeared on Avocado Sweet this week. Avocado Sweet is an eclectic mix of interesting articles on Art & Design, Architecture, Music, Writing & Film and much more. It is well worth signing up for their weekly newsletters.
If on the off-chance you find yourself in Washington DC, you can find a copy of From Hill to Sea in The Library of Congress, the United States of America’s first established cultural institution and the largest library in the world.
We have been delighted with how far the book has travelled to date, with copies dispatched to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA and many countries in Continental Europe. We are very grateful that it now also has a permanent home in The Library of Congress.
A huge thanks to Phong Tran for facilitating this. If you want to discover all sorts of interesting music from around the globe, and his own mind-expanding musical projects, then follow Phong on twitter – @boxwalla.
Now playing The Shouts From the Sea – S/T.
– When does the inside become the outside?
For anyone who may be interested in an eBook version, From Hill to Sea: Dispatches from the Fife Psychogeographical Collective, 2010 – 2014 is now available on Apple iBooks.
One advantage of the ePub format is that the digital version is in full colour and there are embedded links to stream the music mentioned in the book.
You can download a preview chapter of the book to sample.
The ePub version can be found here:
A reminder that if you are within striking distance of Dundee tomorrow, (14th April), Murdo Eason of the Fife Psychogeographical Collective will be reading from the recently published From Hill to Sea, Dispatches from the Fife Psychogeographical Collective 2010 – 2014 at Dundee Contemporary Arts, 19.00. The event is free.
Also, pick up a postcard on the night:
Hope to see some of you there.
Now playing: Hour House – Chiltern
I recently tried to answer a few questions about psychogeography for the wonderful Prehistories website. Here is an extract:
For any readers who haven’t encountered psychogeography before, could you give a brief explanation of the term?
The word may be unfamiliar to some people but I would guess that most people will have experienced it. To adapt Joseph Beuys: Everyone is a Psychogeographer.
Psychogeography has become a much used and abused label but a broad definition is the influence of the geographical environment on the human mind. Think back to when you were a child. You had little interest in moving through space in a linear fashion from place A to place B. Time was much more fluid. You would encounter playful distractions in the landscape – a tree to climb, or in my case, a concrete hippo or mushroom in the New Town of Glenrothes. You might find sticks to pick up; objects to poke with a stick. You might sit down to observe a line of ants crawling across the pavement. Following the sound of a distant ice-cream van may lead you through new routes in familiar streets. You may have pondered questions such as why does that building have such a large fence around it? Why does that sign say ‘Keep Out’?
Fast forward to walking through an unfamiliar city without a map. It is likely that you will encounter different zones of feeling as you move through the city. You may end up in an area that for whatever reason makes you feel uncomfortable and you want to walk away quickly. Conversely, the particular ambiance of an area make you feel relaxed or even carnivalesque. At other times a particular city environment may make you feel literally ‘out of place’.
Contemporary psychogeography has many different strands which makes it difficult to pin down precisely, but from the above we can pull out certain common characteristics:
The follow on question, may be, does the environment have to be like this and how could it be changed (or preserved)?
In the history of ideas, most of the literature about psychogeography refers back to the Letterists and the Situationists who defined and developed their psychogeographic activities, such as the dérive – or drift – in an urban environment during the 1950s. However, we would argue that what is now often termed psychogeography is just a label applied to activities and practices that human beings, across all cultures, have undertaken as soon as they started to walk in the landscape.
Guy Debord’s definition of psychogeography is commonly cited:
Psychogeography sets for itself the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.
Guy Debord, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography, (1955)
However, our own research has uncovered that the term was used much earlier by the American anthropologist, J.Walter Fewkes in a non-urban context in the early 1900s:
… psychogeography, deals with the influence of geographical environment on the human mind.
J. Walter Fewkes, Bureau of American Ethnology, (1905)
Fewkes was using the term to examine the Native American Hopi people’s strong connection with their landscape. The arid landscape led them to develop a set of beliefs, practices and rituals, such as the rain dance, to appeal to the sky gods to deliver rain.
We have yet to see any mention of Fewkes in the psychogeographic literature but firmly embrace the idea of an expansive psychogeography: the influence of the geographical environment on the human mind in both urban and non-urban contexts. This also recognizes the presence of the non-human world in our landscapes.
To perhaps bring back all of this to a concrete example, here is a photograph, taken in Dunfermline, of a fairly typical designed environment. There are two laid out, planned footpaths and what would have been a green space with two trees:
It is clear to see that the planned footpaths have been ignored and an alternative ‘desire path’ has formed over the green space between the trees. A good localised example of people, whether consciously or unconsciously, being influenced by the landscape to question and change their local environment through footfall democracy!