Tagpsychogeography

China Miéville Lays the Smack Down on Psychogeography

From a 2011 BLDGBLOG interview with China Miéville:

. Novelists have an endless drive to aestheticize and to complicate. I know there’s a very strong tradition—a tradition in which I write, myself—about the decoding of the city. Thomas de Quincey, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Iain Sinclair—that type-thing. The idea that, if you draw the right lines across the city, you’ll find its Kabbalistic heart and so on.

The thing about that is that it’s intoxicating—but it’s also bullshit. It’s bullshit and it’s paranoia—and it’s paranoia in a kind of literal sense, in that it’s a totalizing project. As long as you’re constantly aware of that, at an aesthetic level, then it’s not necessarily a problem; you’re part of a process of urban mythologization, just like James Joyce was, I suppose. But the sense that this notion of uncovering—of taking a scalpel to the city and uncovering the dark truth—is actually real, or that it actually solves anything, and is anything other than an aesthetic sleight of hand, can be quite misleading, and possibly even worse than that. To the extent that those texts do solve anything, they only solve mysteries that they created in the first place, which they scrawled over the map of a mucky contingent mess of history called the city. They scrawled a big question mark over it and then they solved it.

Arthur Machen does this as well. All the great weird fiction city writers do it. Machen explicitly talks about the strength of London, as opposed to Paris, in that London is more chaotic. Although he doesn’t put it in these words, I think what partly draws him to London is this notion that, in the absence of a kind of unifying vision, like Haussmann’s Boulevards, and in a city that’s become much more syncretic and messy over time, you have more room to insert your own aestheticizing vision.

As I say, it’s not in and of itself a sin, but to think of this as a real thing—that it’s a lived political reality or a new historical understanding of the city—is, I think, a misprision.

BLDGBLOG: You can see this, as well, in the rise of psychogeography—or, at least, some popular version of it—as a tool of urban analysis in architecture today. This popularity often fails to recognize that, no matter how fun or poetic an experience it genuinely might be, randomly wandering around Boston with an iPhone, for instance, is not guaranteed to produce useful urban insights.

Miéville: Some really interesting stuff has been done with psychogeography—I’m not going to say it’s without uses other than for making pretty maps. I mean, re-experiencing lived urban reality in ways other than how one is more conventionally supposed to do so can shine a new light on things—but that’s an act of political assertion and will. If you like, it’s a kind of deliberate—and, in certain contexts, radical—misunderstanding. Great, you know—good on you! You’ve productively misunderstood the city. But I think that the bombast of these particular—what are we in now? fourth or fifth generation?—psychogeographers is problematic.

Full Story: BLDGBLOG: Unsolving the City: An Interview with China Miéville

A Map Of Places You Haven’t Been

From The Atlantic:

In his final year at the Design Academy of Eindhoven, Tom Loois received a vague assignment: “Design your personal definition of silence.” Loois, whose training is in product design, had no idea what to do. He found himself, as the deadline approached, wandering around the city searching for inspiration. Then he noticed a little alley near his route home from school.

“I stopped my bike,” he says, “and I thought, ‘I’ve passed by here so many times but I’ve never been here.’ I don’t know where it goes, where it might lead.” It was a eureka moment for the Dutch designer. “I found my silence in the places I’d never been.”

Loois’s final project ended up being a smartphone app called BlankWays, which charts your progress through the city, noting which paths you’ve come down before and suggesting itineraries to cover new ground. The app indicates and measures which parts of the city you’ve traveled, and which you haven’t:

The Atlantic: Choosing the Paths Less Traveled? There’s an App for That

(via Amber Case)

Crack the Surface: Free Documentary Series on Urban Exploration

Crack The Surface – Episode I from SilentUK on Vimeo.

Crack The Surface – Episode II from SilentUK on Vimeo.

Produced in association with:

silentuk.com
sub-urban.com
placehacking.co.uk
prourbex.com

Previously: Urban Exploration

Hoppala: The Blogger of Augmented Reality?

When content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Blogger hit the Web several years ago, the Internet entered a new age where it became quick and easy for anyone with a computer to contribute content. This week, augmented reality (AR) took a significant step toward becoming more like the read/write Web with the launch of an online mobile AR CMS for creating content on the Layar platform.

“Augmentation” – a Web-based tool for generating mobile AR content – was created by Layar Partner Network member Hoppala. With a Layar developer account, users of Augmentation can easily and instantaneously place their content in Layar with zero code and a few clicks on a map. Custom icons, images, audio, video and 3D content can all be added by way of a full screen map interface, and Hoppala will even host all of the data.

ReadWriteWeb: Augmented Reality Becoming More Like the Read/Write Web

Previously: Create your own augmented reality maps – Layar tutorial – but this looks even easier.

Alan Moore Interview in The Quietus

Alan Moore

I’ve been aware that Moore doesn’t use the Internet for several years now (though he recently admitted in the page of Dodgem Logic that he’s now seen the Dodgem Logic web site but it’s the first and only site he’s ever seen), and I’ve always been curious as to why not. He explains:

I’m practically Amish when it comes down to it. I practically mistrust any technology that came after the buggy. What I tend to think is that the internet is fine for everyone else in the world. I can see that it may have some disadvantages. In fact, I can see a few problems arising from it, but, by and large… everybody in the entire world apart from me uses the internet and seems to get on quite well with it. For my part, I don’t want to be connected to that all-pervasive kind of cyber culture any more than I want to be connected to the physical world that is around me, more than I can help it [laughs]. I’m largely a solitary creature, just by nature and by my work. That said, I venture out into town, but I very seldom leave Northampton.

He also talks a little bit about hypersigils (but of course doesn’t use the term):

We look into the place, but it’s more an excavation of Steve’s peculiar life which crosses into all sorts of different areas and crosses over with my life to a certain degree. It was certainly an odd little story that was self-referential. I’ve often found that if you write self-referential stories that feedback into your actual life then all sorts of weird things start to happen, or at least appear to start happening.

And:

Working as a writer, one of the reasons I got into magic was because you start to notice this feedback between the writing and real life. It might be entirely in my head, but it seems significant. I mean, there was a conference last weekend in Northampton called Magus. It was academics coming from all over the world to talk about me and my work. So I went down with Melinda. They were nice people. One of the academics at this conference was saying that he was working on a book which was about Watchmen as a post-9/11 text. I can see what he means to a degree. One of my friends over there, Bob Morales, said he’d been talking to some people on Ground Zero on September 12, 2001 and he was asking them if they were alright and what it had been like. Two of them, independently of each other, said that they were just waiting for the authorities to find a giant alien sticking half way out of a wall.

The Quietus: Hipster Priest: A Quietus Interview With Alan Moore

(Thanks Josh)

Drift Deck (Analog Edition)

Drift Deck

Drift Deck

The Drift Deck (Analog Edition) is an algorithmic puzzle game used to navigate city streets. A deck of cards is used as instructions that guide you as you drift about the city. Each card contains an object or situation, followed by a simple action. For example, a situation might be — you see a fire hydrant, or you come across a pigeon lady. The action is meant to be performed when the object is seen, or when you come across the described situation. For example — take a photograph, or make the next right turn. The cards also contain writerly extras, quotes and inspired words meant to supplement your wandering about the city.

Near Future Labratory: Drift Deck

Night Visions: The Art of Urban Exploration

pentagram

Troy Paiva has a new book out of gorgeous urban exploration photography.

Troy Paiva’s web site

Troy Paiva’s Flickr

(via Grinding)

Imagine! Our nation sings your nation

Having spent the past few days reading drafts of the forthcoming book The Art of Memetics, by Edward Wilson & Wes Unruh, my spirit was elated this evening to come across this ad campaign for Pangea Day, 10 May. a) The Art of Memetics is a truly phenomenal treatment of how memes act to infect and how we can use this to personal advantage to survive and become strengthened in the coming Information Age. b) These videos are such a great idea: we’re so accustomed to hearing our national anthem sung by ourselves, it’s like the little voices in our heads. To have a nation we’re generally ignorant of or have little dealings with take it upon themselves to treat the anthem with such care and heart, makes for a poignant campaign in our coming post-national world.

I find that people tend to jump at the notion that memetics and marketing can be used for good. And I’d like to thank Edward Wilson & Wes Unruh, and the Pangea Day folk, and everyone else out there who understand that as long as everyone is educated, no one can well turn it against another. We can use these technologies and wisdoms to work for a better future.

Above is France sings America. And I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, but as a Canadian (anglais & français, as well as a whole swath of Asian and Middle Eastern dialects), I’ve always found it odd that the Americans would so inappropriately stereotype and ridicule the nation that gave America one of their greatest symbolic gifts: the Statue of Liberty. Regardless, it’s a beautiful sentiment.

See the other three and others on YouTube. I really like Japan sings Turkey and Kenya sings India.

Review of the MMO ‘Outside’

I came across this via Kottke. I’ve seen bits and pieces posted about Outside over the past couple months, but this is a good review of a game everyone should be dying to try:

In terms of the social environment, almost anything goes. Outside has a vast network of guilds, many of its players are active participants in designing the game’s social environment, and almost any player will be able to find company to undertake their desired group quests. On the other hand, gold-buying is rife, the outskirts of virtually every city zone in the game are completely overrun by farmers, and the developers have so far proven themselves reluctant to answer petitions, intervene in inter-player disputes, or nerf broken skills and abilities. Indeed this reviewer will go so far as to say that the developers are absent from the game entirely, and have left it to its own devices. Fortunately, server uptime has been 100% from day 1, despite there being only one server for literally billions of players.

The reviewer gives it a 7/10.

ADDITIONALLY, just reading this on the Telegraph website, which goes to show just how peculiar IRL and Outside can really be depending on what tribe you end up playing:

The Masai warriors’ guide to England
by Andrew Pierce

Six Masai warriors, who are so fierce they kill male lions with their bare hands, have been warned that surviving the perils of the African bush will be child’s play compared to what they can expect on their first trip to England. […]

"Even though some may look like they have a frown on their face, they are very friendly people — many of them just work in offices, jobs they don’t enjoy, and so they do not smile as much as they should."

The Masai men — who become warriors after tracking, running down and killing a male lion — may struggle with Greenforce’s interpretation of how English law operates.

"For example, if someone was to see a thief and chase after him and, when they catch him they hurt him, then the person who hurt the thief would go to prison as well as the thief."

‘Secret Worlds’

 

Neil Gaiman quote illustrated by the always-wonderful xkcd.

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