I've taken to long-distance walking as a means of dissolving the mechanised matrix which compresses the space-time continuum, and decouples human from physical geography....As Emile Durkheim observed, a society's space-time perceptions are a function of its social rhythm and its territory. So, by walking to the meeting I have disrupted it just as surely as if I'd appeared stark naked with a peacock's tail fanning out from my buttocks while mouthing Symbolist poetry.So wrote Will Self in his psychogeography column.
|Image from The Journey public art project with Highfields School, Jo Dacombe|
I have been revisiting his writing and lectures, and am rather taken with what he terms "Eutechnical" modes of travel - that is, the experience of travel anywhere before the machine took over (in about 1842, he says, when Stevenson's Rocket changed everything), which was a physical, bodily experience - in other words, walking. Your body felt the physical effort of travelling, your muscles told you how far you had gone and if it had been uphill... in Self's view our non-eutechnical era of mechanised transport has divorced us from the physical experience of travelling.
The undiscovered element of the project is to see how all these opposing concepts will play out as we travel around and interact with places and their people.
|Image from Thinkspace project, Kingswood, Jo Dacombe|
You had to travel through an imaginary world and map it as you went along. This world only existed in your head and was built by the shake of a dice - each time you travelled north, south, east or west, you shook the dice to determine what the next piece of terrain would look like. I remember spending hours drawing out these maps bit by bit, imagining the terrain, what I could see on each horizon, how to decide which way to travel next. There was even an instance where if you shook a certain number the game would instruct that you had become disorientated and you would find the map you had drawn was wrong and you had to redraw it.
|Map of a walk onto unmapped land, Paths of Desire project, Priors Hall, Jo Dacombe|