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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Monday, April 26, 2010

Accidental psychogeography

Categories: Urban
We were talking about La Defense in Paris today in the s3 class and I had a flickr slideshow playing in the background , which I've embedded here. We were just having a general chat about the place and the group picked up on things like the iconic architecture, the lack of greenery (but yet the extraordinary feeling of space), the fact that the buildings were taller than those in the CBD- illustrated well by the panorama shots, and also, what appeared to be a lack of people. It's the first time I've really thought about this. So many of the images make the centrepiece of the picture the style or the built environment, and although people are in many of the pictures, they are almost invisible. The more I thought about it and discussed it with the class, the more I thought what an enormous feat of planning to create the illusion of emptiness this was, particularly when you consider that this is one of Paris' main office districts and houses close to 30, 000 people and during the day, 150,000 workers. This coincided with one of the images of an office worker lying on the ground reading his paper going completely unnoticed. As a result of this, the discussion moved on to 'Georgie', which, surprisingly, some of the group had already seen:

Georgie is a Gorilla (Guerilla?) who went around London performing randomly selected acts. If you watch the video closely, there are a large number of people who either do not see or choose to ignore Georgie. I then asked the class if it was possible to be invisible in a city, following this thread? Most laughed, but were quite animated at the idea of trying it, which duly became their homework-plucked straight from Georgie's Mission:Explore, to time how long they can move in the environment of their choice without being noticed. Lots of discussion followed about environments and actions which were likely to break their guise. I think we accidentally had a lesson in psychogeography, but it was fantastic the way that the lesson evolved in a not entirely planned way, and a fun way to learn about a place which isn't always easy to learn about in a dynamic and interactive way.


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