[19Jan21] Psychogeography pertains to being in and aware of a landscape, be that rural or urban. The cmat. notes that this can be part of a variety of activities from the Romantic poets (my suggestion) to 'freerunning’ (cmat.).
A key player is Guy Debord, leader of The Situationist International. Debord wrote,
Psychogeography could set for itself the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals. Debord, Les Lèvres Nues #6, 1955, quoted in LPE p.87
The cmat. distinguishes between the ostensibly 'scientific' discipline of psychogeography and the less formal descriptor psychogeographical, though I'm not sure why.
And then winds on to the terms dérive and flâneur, where,
" dérive is a key method of psychogeographical enquiry. The literal translation from the French is ‘drift’ and a dérive is a spontaneous, unplanned walk through a city, guided by the individual’s responses to the geography, architecture and ambience of its quarters"; and
a "flâneur is essentially the protagonist of the dérive , but more generally the ‘gentleman stroller’ … who enjoys the aesthetic pleasures of the sights and sounds he experiences".
- LPE p.88
It sounds to me like a tourist on a self-directed city break. Regular readers may recall that I attended a day's course in flâneury organised by Wex Photographic and led by Eva Bachmann in June 2018, fig. A1.
[p.89] Exponents of photo-flâneury are identified as Brassaï who meets the cited criteria of,
“. .. the image of an observant and solitary man strolling about Paris Solnit, 2001, p.198, quoted in LPE p.89
Strategies for aimless wandering might be regarded as oxymoronic, but the Situationists had them, such as "alternative maps, such as Debord’s The Naked City (1957), which attempted to facilitate users to experience the city according to their emotional state and responses" (LPE p.89).
This brought to mind Fulford's The photographer's playbook (2014) which is full of ideas for what to do with a camera if you're stuck. Many are suggestions from educators describing exercises they set for their students, such as "walk five blocks, take a photograph at every corner" (I just made that one up) - one can see the ubiquity of this in the teaching environment as it would specify a manageable task and the output would be comparable (there used to be a management tool for setting targets with an acronym that included manageable and measurable, but I digress). For the individual, these things are still useful because it provides a method to start a new typography - apply the formula to every town you visit or suburb you have easy access to.
On a wider scale, one thinks of John Cage composing by throwing I Ching or Rhinehart's Dice Man consulting his little cube for decision-making.
"Robert Adams’ nocturnal exploration of suburbs around his home in Colorado in his series Summer Nights Walking (1976–82)" (LPE p.90).
Iain Sinclair writing about the M25, filmed by Chris Petit (London Orbital, 2002)
Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts’ Edgelands: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness (2011), of which more later
Mark Power's 26 Different Endings exploring quirks of the London A-Z
Robert MacFarlane - pick a map, draw a circle around a glass, walk the circle.