What is it?

Psychogeography is the process whereby an individual or a group of people go on a journey through a space or environment. It is inspired by the Situationist Internationale’s theory of the ‘Derive’.

Why is Psychogeography useful?

The city space is much more complex that the ‘official’ image of it that you see in tourist adverts. That depth of knowledge and information is important and useful.

How do I use it?

The participants monitor the affect of the environment on them, particularly focussing on the emotional, subconscious affects, energy and flows that usually go unnoticed in day to day routine movements.

Background information

Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as:

“the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”

Another definition is:

“a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities…just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape.”1

These are some  concepts to emerge from a recent project on psychogeography which then went on to be developed into a series of graphic images to visually communicate the theories:

  • What is the lived space vs the conceived space?
  • What is the reality vs the idea?
  • Educate the idealisers- architects, town planners, lawyers etc. Help them to become more aware of the effects of their decisions in the world.
  • Each man and woman should be aware that they are an active agent in configuring the city space, through tactical behaviour which exists outside of that which fits into the schema of administration.
  • Practice detournement on signage.
  • Look for strange, unexpected usage and create situations.
  • Become hyper observant.
  • Talk to people about place and their experience.
  • What is real and what is fake?
  • What is simulacra and what organically emerged?
  • Remove all constraints and then you can do anything you want.
  • Become a true ecologist of all things.
  • What is the ‘proper’?
  • Use a journey as a way of remembering.
  • What are the multiple possibilities of use?
  • What is fiction, what is fact? Reverse them.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Go to places you shouldn’t.
  • Be a critique of social space.
  • See the ludicrous.
  • How would an alien see it?
  • Comment, critique and reflect on your surroundings – How do you see / understand the city?
  • Alter your consciousness.
  • Move out of the flow.
  • Go with the flow.
  • What is the mental space of the physical space?
  • Enhance and amplify your experience.
  • Learn by moving.
  • Which bits of the city are computer generated?
  • Break the habits and routine of movement and behaviour.
  • What are the alternatives to the guidebook suggestions (and the laws)?
  • Tear out some pages of the guidebook (and the lawbook).
  • Cover over some areas of the map.
  • Don’t avoid experiences (or do).
  • Draw a qualitative or emotion map.
  • Become more conscious of place.
  • Don’t base your decisions on the preconceptions or the idea but rather on your experience.

You can buy the book here Psychogeography (Pocket Essentials)

The Open Wilderness Guiding Book for city explorers available to buy from Amazon.


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