My Practice and Journey Form: Topology and Psychogeography

Bourriaud writes that the journey-form provides an iconography of global displacement. This can be clearly linked to my research. The global displacement is linked to multiplication which can be seen on the Internet: “Simply browsing the Internet in search of information, one gets a glimpse of this imaginary empire of the multiple. Every site explodes into myriad others”. Thus, multiplication is the “dominant mental operation” of our Altermodern era.

As I have wrote about several times before, my research was characterised as a form of cyberflânerie. Linking this to psychogeography, you can clearly see how the flâneur is defined by displacement in his travels, and therefore our Altermodern era of multiplication and the journey-form. Flânerie is relevent to contemporary art and times.

Franz Ackermann makes mental maps which include memories and personal notes, going beyond cartography. He expands on Situationist psychogeography, depicting contemporary experience of the transforming urban space. He traces journey-forms to map this transforming urban space. Linked to the Altermodern concept of Energy, his canvas paintings are accompanied/extended by objects, photos and drawings in the exhibition space. Bourriaud writes that these exhibitions come across as 3D computer screens with multiple files open onscreen, “windows onto hetergeneous data”.

Ackermann’s Mental Map: Evasion V:

I wonder if this is similar to how my exhibition will come across, with the Altermodern Energisation of my practice continuum and links to psychogeography.

I can see my own practice when Bourriaud says that contemporary painting is focused on a desire to represent an individual’s experience of space through intersecting spatial-temporal networks. This desire is also found in the cartoraphy of the GPS era as satellite images, transport routes and communication networks, reflecting contemporary experience of travel “[A]ll geography becomes psychogeography” in a world where space is totally surveyed by satellites and totally saturated, for example wi-fi, conversations manifested in phone signals, etc.

Here you can see the importance of psychogeography in contemporary art and life and that my work can be seen within this context.


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Inspiring Altermodern Artist: Loris Greaud

Loris Greaud’s Where Tremors Forever was a big inspiration for the MLSE projection piece and the Altermodern ‘Energisation’ of different parts of the continuum of my practice.

His piece entails the recording of his brain, with help from a neurologist, as he thinks intensely about a conceiving a future exhibition for 30 minutes. These electroencephalograms are then made into light emissions, then electrical impulses.

The piece is a journey-form, cerebal wanderings, ‘materialising trajectories rather than destinations’. It’s art made out of the thinking process. Greaud states, in Bourriaud’s book Altermodern: Tate Triennial that it’s no coincidence the end-product takes the form of a network.

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Drawing in Archaeology Into My Practice

I’ve had this idea floating about for a couple of weeks that involves projecting an animation of MLSE technology footage onto an archaeological photograph (see Basic Animation: MLSE Footage)

The reason for this is to explain this whole body of work, to expand my body of work (inspired by the Altermodern concept of Energy) and link my practice to archaeology, a link bolstered by the writings of Bourriaud on the Journey-form (see previous post).

Basically, during a lecture we were shown the Huddersfield episode of Our Town. In it, MLSE technology was featured. This was an accidental discovery, which challenged my perceptions of Huddersfield’s industry. The video was the catalyst for an extensive investigation and body of artwork.

I wanted to include a photograph of a chance archaeological discovery which prompted a significant investigation and resulted in changing people’s perceptions, rewriting history to a certain degree – you can see how this would fit with my body of work. Contenders were the Snettisham Treasure, discovered by ploughman and Seahenge, discovered by a beach comber.

Yesterday I wrote out the discovery of Seahenge and the Snettisham Treasure to clarify and compare them. This was very very useful as I realised that Seahenge was the one.

This is a draft of the text that will accompany the projection in the exhibition:

Although some locals had known about the site for decades, the great resurfacing of Seahenge, which brought the site to a wider audience, starts with the chance discovery of a Bronze Age axe head by John Lorimer while out ctatching shrimps on Holme Beach. Mr Lorimer didn’t fully realise the significance of the find but nevertheless, curiosity aroused, revisited the beach, stumbling upon the four-thousand-year-old preserved tree stump of Seahenge, uncovered by the sea. Lorimer was intrigued by the upside-down positioning of the tree in the sand, and, in a bid to satisfy his curiosity, sought those sources whose knowledge might hold the key to understanding this peculiarity.

After the significance of Seahenge was realised, its planned removal, preservation and exhibition saw a clash of ideology: static and frozen versus progressive.

Tourist organisations wanted the site to stay in situ, seeing its potential as a valuable tourist attraction. Neo-pagans believed the removal of the site would destroy its spiritual power and felt obliged to protect Seahenge, preserving it in time in its original setting, from what they saw as cultural and spiritual vandalism.

In conflict with them were wildlife organisations opposed to the site becoming a tourist attraction, noting the disturbance to the beach’s ecology, and archaeologists who pointed out the damage the wood was suffering by exposure to the air. To leave it in situ would see its ultimate destruction. Movement of Seahenge into a technologically-enhanced setting was the only way to ensure survival, and to realise – in both senses of the word – its significance, utilising the most advanced technology available.

In the end, the excavation, removal and preservation of Seahenge went ahead. The extensive investigation that followed caused a rewriting of history and the re-evaulation of many people’s perceptions. To think that this significant site was lying just beneath the sand, unbeknownst to most of us, begs the question where else in Britain could such an interesting and important reality exist?


This is the picture I’ve chosen showing Seahenge in situ – it’s a3 sized which is the size it’ll be printed out at – black and white or colour? I’ll try both.

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The Altermodernist Energisation of Research: Contextual Examples

First is Pierre Huyghe’s series mentioned previously.

Second is Melik Ohanian. A volcanic eruption in Iceland gives way to diverse “levels of discourse and reality”. Aerial footage of the eruption, a handbook chronicling press articles and scientific studies and the featuring of a rare plant in the vicinity of the volcano. Various art forms are created out of the event and different points.

Third is art group Gelitin. An exhibition was organised for the artists in Sofia. Nasser Klumpatsch (The Ride) sees them travel 700km from Vienna to Sofia, using the journey to pick up new forms that’d feature in the show. The journey was punctuated by artworks.

Fourth is Abraham Poincheval and Laurent Tixador who place themselves in physical and mental danger including living on a desert island in self-suffiency, spending time in prison, pitching a tent on the roof of a skyscraper.

Fifith is Shimabuku’s Cucumber Journey where he pickled cucumbers while on a canal boat from London to Birmingham, collecting recipes, watching the wildlife and the cucumbers pickle.

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Journey Forms: Me and Pierre Huyghe’s A Journey That Wasn’t

Featured in Bourriaud’s chapter is Huyghe’s series, created from an expedition and its preparations. It’s based on a rumour that an albino penguin had been born in Antarctica as a result of global warming. The journey there, on board a laboratory ship, was an artwork itself.

This is similar to my practice. Based on the MLSE footage in a lecture, the concept of Huddersfield’s textile industry being dead and buried was called into question. This was the catalyst for research, a cyber-expedition. The process of this research (a journey-form) becomes art in its own right.

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Applying the ‘Journey-Form: Expeditions and Parades’ To My Practice

Reading Bourriaud’s text I can see elements that relate to my practice.

The journey form is everywhere in today’s art. Artists borrow: its forms (journeys, expeditions, maps), iconography (virgin territory, jungles, deserts), and its methods (anthopologist, archaeologist, explorer).

It’s prevalence is due to globalisation – the democractisation and widespread use of tourism and commuting. An extension of that for my practice is websurfing and possibly car journeys to get the colour specimens.

With me, I use: cyberflânerie journeys, maps, highlighting and making art out of the whole journey (continuum) of my practice (Altermodern Energisation), I feature the jungle/terra incognita of cyberspace, by bringing to light little-known information I challenge the supposed barren post-industrial desert view of Huddersfield and also show how, by exploring this desert, information and the truth can be unearthed. This information is like uncharted territory before I encountered and ‘charted’ it. I’m embracing the discipline of archaeology in some works and I take on the role of the psychogeographic explorer (flaneur and generally psychogeographer). My abstract pieces were results of expeditions to collect colour samples of the sites.

Expeditions compose of a motive (knowledge of the world), an imaginary setting (history of exploration subtly linked to modern times) and a structure (collections – of samples along a path e.g. stratigraphic pottery sherds in archaeology).

With me, my motive was knowledge of Huddersfield’s industry, it’s linked to the history of psychogeography and at times to archaeological history, the collection of finds are the artworks: maps, psychogeographic responses and encaustic ‘excavations’.

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Drawing Parallels Between Contemporary Art, Cyberflânerie and 19th Century Flânerie

The city is the home of the flâneur. The internet is one home of the cyberflâneur.

What’s interesting is that the 19th century city, and therefore the way the flâneur deals with it, is similar to the 21st century internet, and therefore the way the cyberflâneur deals with it.

According to Merlin Coverley’s Psychogeography, London, then Paris became too big to comprehend in its entirety in the 19th century.

“[I]ncreasingly alien to its own inhabitants, a strange and newly exotic place to be experienced more as a tourist than as a resident. Soon the city becomes characterised as a jungle, uncharted and unexplored, a virgin wilderness populated by savages demonstrating strange customs and practices. Navigation of this city becomes a skill, a secret knowledge available only to an elect few, and in this environment the stroller is transformer into an explorer, or even a detective solving the mystery of the city streets.”

It might well be that the internet is so vast it can’t be properly comprehended in its entirety – only its constituent parts, e.g. shops, etc. Likewise, it’s a strange and newly exotic place, as more and more types of people find a home in it, demonstrating strange customs and practices. It too is a jungle. Most of it is uncharted and unexplored by its users (the equivalent of the city’s residents). Cyberflânerie is navigation of the internet which takes a special skill. I don’t claim to be a proper cyberflâneur. Like Rebecca Solnit said “no one quite fulfilled the idea of the flâneur, but everyone engaged in some version of flâneury.”

As a result, it seems the internet and the 19th century city are at the moment very similar, so is the cyberflâneur and the 19th century flâneur at the moment.

Leading on from this is what is written in the chapter about journey-forms by Bourriaud in The Radicant. He writes of how contemporary artists are borrowing from the journey-form. They borrow its forms (journeys, expeditions, maps), its iconography (virgin territory, jungles, deserts) and its methods (anthropologist, archaeologist, explorer).

Notice how keywords in Coverley’s text are found in Bourriaud’s text.

So, it would seem flânerie and cyberflânerie are very much relevent to contemporary art and has a lot in common with today’s artists exploring journey-forms.

This serves to justify the Altermodern Energisation of my research, e.g. the mapping of cyberflânerie.

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