Bard College is encouraging all students, professors, staff, artists, curators, and visitors of Bard College to create their own psychogeographic map of Bard.
"I assert that all institutions, towns, cities, countries must now re-map as widely as possible using psychogeographic methods. These methods will not be specified".
"Obey the process of fancy"
Create a (psychogeographic) map
“The production of psychogeographic maps… can contribute to clarifying wanderings that express not subordination to randomness but complete insubordination to habitual influences.” (Guy Debord, Les Lèvres Nues No. 6, 1955)
Though, in the case of this “map,” habitual influences may be defined or defied from traditional definitions of contemporary art. Artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Buckminster Fuller, Gordon Matta-Clark, Paul Conneally, Robert Smithson, Stewart Home, etc. redefined contemporary art in the environment surrounding us.
To notice the way in which certain areas, streets, or buildings resonate with states of mind, inclinations, and desires, and to seek out reasons for movement other than those for which an environment was designed.
In the case of this particular dérive and to develop a psychogeographic “map of contemporary art at Bard”, these states of mind, inclinations, and desires may originate from the psychological space of artists, curators, students, professors, staff, and visitors, all of who have a stake in contemporary art at Bard.
The definition of “contemporary art at Bard” can be loose and nebulous or strict and specific, relative to the psychogeographer’s perspective. While some may respond to the formal or aesthetic qualities of the geographical terrain, others may be compelled towards the public sculptures or interventions in nature. Concurrently, the act of this derive, its documentation, and its expression in sound recordings, photography, video, and graphic “map” making all constitute contemporary art. After all, what is contemporary art other than a document of immaterial ideas and concepts?
With this undefined definition and somewhat delineated purpose, the psychogeographer may begin his/her dérive.
There are no set guidelines for one’s dérive or exact methodology in contemporary psychogeography; however, one may draw upon a vast philosophical, political, and literary tradition of psychogeography, in “practitioners” have all documented their forays into psychogeography in a variety of formats. These formats have included books, essays, poems, photo essays, films, and, of course, maps – though these maps may seem nonrepresentational or nonsensical in the traditional geographic sense.
For more background on psychogeography, read here.
1) Conduct your own dérive. Read the guidelines outlined in Debord’s “Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography” below. Find a site of departure and begin. Choose your own form(s) of documentation.
“The sudden change of ambiance in a street within the space of a few meters; the evident division of a city into zones of distinct psychic atmospheres; the path of least resistance that is automatically followed in aimless strolls (and which has no relation to the physical contour of the terrain); the appealing or repelling character of certain places — these phenomena all seem to be neglected. In any case they are never envisaged as depending on causes that can be uncovered by careful analysis and turned to account.”
2) Create paths of desire based on intuitive sites and terrains of attraction and repulsion. A path of desire is created by erosion caused by an animal/human footfall, usually representing the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination. The width and depth of the path represents the amount of demand and travel. The resulting map may represent subconscious or conscious desire for a personal lived/phenomenological experience versus the anonymous, predetermined mode of travel and lifestyle imposed by the structure (paved sidewalks, walkways, bridges, crossroads) of one’s environment. Record these new paths of desire on an existing map.
3) Use the walking tour created by artists Jason Grote & Karinne Keithley* and record your experience. Download the audio file to your personal listening device (or go to http://fancystitchmacine.org/conflux.htm). Then, choose one of the five paths below and follow the walking tour.
a. Once you have finished loading the audio onto your mp3 player, exit the nearest door. Take a right. Follow the instructions on your audio.
b. Walk towards a place that you find dangerous for whatever reason. Get as close as you can to this place without risking your personal safety. Without crossing whatever your own boundaries are, follow the instructions on the audio.
c. Extinguish all the lights wherever you are and lie down on the floor. In your imagination, follow the instructions on the audio.
d. Walk to a place you have never been but have always been curious about. Once there, follow the instructions on the audio.
e. Look at this graphic image, either on a screen or printed on paper, while you listen to the audio. Enter the world of the image and follow the instructions on the audio.
This is an open call to all students, professors, staff, artists, curators, and visitors of Bard College to create their own psychogeographical map of “contemporary art at Bard” and contribute to WhatIsContemporaryArtAtBard.com through any documentation/format they see fit.
To contribute your “map” to WhatIsContemporaryArtAtBard.com, just click here to add a post of your own.
There will also be a facilitated group dérive scheduled once per semester. Interested participants can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
*CREDITS: Conceived, edited, produced, and directed by Karinne Keithley and Jason Grote, and performed by Jenny Seastone Stern. Written by Annie Nocenti, Amber Reed, Carlos Murillo, Drew Haxby, Elana Greenfield, Guy DeBord, Jason Grote, Jen Collins, Jennifer Dumpert, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Karinne Keithley, Leah Souffrant, Lorraine Martindale, Matthew Burgess, Mimi Lipson, Peggy Nelson, Rebecca Solnit, Susan L. Miller, and Walter Benjamin.
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