Art, Walking, and Psychogeographic Inspiration
Psychogeography: a beginner's guide. Unfold a street map of London, place a glass, rim down, anywhere on the map, and draw round its edge. Pick up the map, go out into the city, and walk the circle, keeping as close as you can to the curve. Record the experience as you go, in whatever medium you favor: film, photograph, manuscript, tape,. Catch the textural run-off of the streets; the graffiti, the branded litter, the snatches of conversation. Cut for sign. Log the data-stream. Be alert to the happenstance of metaphors, watch for visual rhymes, coincidences, analogies, family resemblances, the changing moods of the street. Complete the circle, and the record ends. Walking makes for content; footage for footage. - Robert MacFarlane
Yahara Watershed Multiverse Blues, Revisited can be seen as a psychogeographic exercise, taking visual cues from walked parts of the watershed and mashing them up with its distant history, its projected future and the concerns of the people that live inside it. It was made for Future Possible, an exhibition at the James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters in Madison's Overture Center. Future Possible artists, architects and desingers were asked by the curators to imagine Madison in 75 years. It included the work of Lou Host-Jablonski, Ed Linville, Ashley Robertson, Kate Stalker, Anders Zanichkowsky and myself, as well as members of Madison Design Professionals. Yahara Watershed Multiverse Blues, Revisited contemplates the complexities that will make Madison in 2093, for better or for worse. Check out the Gayle Worland's take in the Wisconsin State Journal. Check out curator Jody Clowes and landscape architect Kate Stalker talking with Neil Heinen on For the Record. You can access a guide to the work here.
Previous Psychogeographically Inspired Work:
- Inverted Lakes was a way of attempting to visualize what was once a prominent feature of Madison that has become hidden, the bottoms of the Lakes. It was made by freezing layers of river water into ice in the shape of the topography of the lake bottoms.
- Perimeter transposed images from the edges of Madison waterways to the DiRicci Gallery at Edgewood college, layering views of lakeside events in a continuous ink drawing the spanned the perimeter of the gallery.
- Ripple was a collaboration with hydraulic engineer Seth McClure that playfully places a mapped history of the local landscape from the melting of the glaciers to now, inside a hand-drawn animated ripple effect. It was made for Bookless in the director's office of the former Central Library in Madison before it's most recent renovation. Video documentation is here.
- Gravity Shifts meanders through the stories of people's interactions with gravity, creating a sense of place through visual storytelling instead of exploring an existing space.
- Bottoms Up also address conditions a the bottom of Madison's lakes, this time by cataloging and printing various types of lake weed, in abundance because of eutrophication caused by fertilizer run off from farm fields upstream. It was made for the first Makeshift Festival held at Olbrich park, a celebration of creativity in the visual and culinary arts held as a benefit for the Madison Parks Foundation.
- Sift and Winnow explores a particular institution: the Madison Brass Works building. It was made for Forge, an art exhibition in the building before its renovation that featured installations inspired by its history, its workers, and the elements involved in the transfigurations that took place there. The large bronze “sifting and winnowing” plaques found on every UW campus were cast at the foundry, declaring the importance of academic freedom by quoting an 1894 university Board of Regents report defending a professor accused of involvement in pro-union and socialist activities. Check out the history and exhibition coverage in Madison Magazine, Wisconsin State Journal, and the Isthmus, and also photos by John Hart. Video documentation of Sift and Winnow is on vimeo.
- Nowhere Dreams uses a particular shape repeatedly that was inspired by train tunnel underneath my elementary school that I used to visit on my walks home from school. The work installed at the Caestecker Gallery, Ripon College, removes the shape from its original context and uses it as a void in which to place marks and textures to build spaces that have a similar psychological weight . You can see a video of a slide talk from the opening night here.