Ascend the Corbie Steps

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On a tilt of light

ascend the corbie steps.

 

Perch with the birds

of the shadow world.

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≈≈≈

A big thanks to Ms AM for the photograph. A serendipitous encounter with light, shadow, birds and time.

Now playing: Seth Cluett – ‘A Radiance Scored With Shadow’ from Objects of Memory.

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From Hill to Sea – eBook

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– When does the inside become the outside?

For anyone who may be interested in an eBook version, From Hill to Sea: Dispatches from the Fife Psychogeographical Collective, 2010 – 2014 is now available on Apple iBooks.

One advantage of the ePub format is that the digital version is in full colour and there are embedded links to stream the music mentioned in the book.

You can download a preview chapter of the book to sample.

The ePub version can be found here:

FHTS EB

To order a physical copy of the book directly or purchase from DCA or Word Power bookshops, please see the Publications page for full details.

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Reading at DCA Dundee – Tomorrow, Thursday 14th April

A reminder that if you are within striking distance of Dundee tomorrow, (14th April), Murdo Eason of the Fife Psychogeographical Collective will be reading from the recently published From Hill to Sea, Dispatches from the Fife Psychogeographical Collective 2010 – 2014 at Dundee Contemporary Arts, 19.00. The event is free.

Also, pick up a postcard on the night:

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Hope to see some of you there.

Now playing: Hour House – Chiltern

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Ask a Psychogeographer: Interview on Prehistories

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I recently tried to answer a few questions about psychogeography for the wonderful Prehistories website.  Here is an extract:

Ask a… psychogeographer

Interview with Murdo Eason, The Fife Psychogeographical Collective.

For any readers who haven’t encountered psychogeography before, could you give a brief explanation of the term?

The word may be unfamiliar to some people but I would guess that most people will have experienced it. To adapt Joseph Beuys: Everyone is a Psychogeographer.

Psychogeography has become a much used and abused label but a broad definition is the influence of the geographical environment on the human mind. Think back to when you were a child. You had little interest in moving through space in a linear fashion from place A to place B. Time was much more fluid. You would encounter playful distractions in the landscape – a tree to climb, or in my case, a concrete hippo or mushroom in the New Town of Glenrothes. You might find sticks to pick up; objects to poke with a stick. You might sit down to observe a line of ants crawling across the pavement. Following the sound of a distant ice-cream van may lead you through new routes in familiar streets.  You may have pondered questions such as why does that building have such a large fence around it? Why does that sign say ‘Keep Out’?

Keep out

Fast forward to walking through an unfamiliar city without a map. It is likely that you will encounter different zones of feeling as you move through the city. You may end up in an area that for whatever reason makes you feel uncomfortable and you want to walk away quickly. Conversely, the particular ambiance of an area make you feel relaxed or even carnivalesque. At other times a particular city environment may make you feel literally ‘out of place’.

Contemporary psychogeography has many different strands which makes it difficult to pin down precisely, but from the above we can pull out certain common characteristics:

  • It usually requires walking or moving through space;
  • there is some form of subjective engagement with the environment and
  • probably some form of implicit questioning as to why the environment is the way it is.

The follow on question, may be, does the environment have to be like this and how could it be changed (or preserved)?

In the history of ideas, most of the literature about psychogeography refers back to the Letterists and the Situationists who defined and developed their psychogeographic activities, such as the dérive – or drift – in an urban environment during the 1950s. However, we would argue that what is now often termed psychogeography is just a label applied to activities and practices that human beings, across all cultures, have undertaken as soon as they started to walk in the landscape.

Guy Debord’s definition of psychogeography is commonly cited:

Psychogeography sets for itself the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.

Guy Debord, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography, (1955)

However, our own research has uncovered that the term was used much earlier by the American anthropologist, J.Walter Fewkes in a non-urban context in the early 1900s:

… psychogeography, deals with the influence of geographical environment on the human mind.

J. Walter Fewkes, Bureau of American Ethnology, (1905)

Fewkes was using the term to examine the Native American Hopi people’s strong connection with their landscape. The arid landscape led them to develop a set of beliefs, practices and rituals, such as the rain dance, to appeal to the sky gods to deliver rain.

We have yet to see any mention of Fewkes in the psychogeographic literature but firmly embrace the idea of an expansive psychogeography: the influence of the geographical environment on the human mind in both urban and non-urban contexts. This also recognizes the presence of the non-human world in our landscapes.

To perhaps bring back all of this to a concrete example, here is a photograph, taken in Dunfermline, of a fairly typical designed environment. There are two laid out, planned footpaths and what would have been a green space with two trees:

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Street view

It is clear to see that the planned footpaths have been ignored and an alternative ‘desire path’ has formed over the green space between the trees. A good localised example of people, whether consciously or unconsciously, being influenced by the landscape to question and change their local environment through footfall democracy!

The full interview can be read here and highly recommend that you check out the Prehistories website and also @DrHComics on Twitter. Here is an example of  Hannah’s distinctive take on folklore:

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At the hinterland of Hinterland

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through the darkness

silent pilgrims

a procession of light

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at the threshold of sight

water weaves through

forest murmurs

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material tracings

interior auras

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angles open

to the moon

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stacked sounds

in flickering windows

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a chorus in walls

trumpet of light

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in the hidden corner

beyond the shadows

new beginnings

a statement of intent

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≈≈≈

Hinterland, took place over the period 18 – 27 March 2016 at Kilmahew/St Peters, near Cardross.  The pioneering, environmental arts organisation, NVA, conceived a site-specific intervention on the abandoned modernist ruin of St Peter’s Seminary, and surrounding landscape, as part of a long-term project to re-imagine and bring part of the building back into functional use as an arts venue. St Peter’s Seminary was designed by Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan of the architectural practice Gillespie, Kidd & Coia. The building opened in 1966 as a training college for Roman Catholic priests, but by the late 1980s, dwindling numbers of priesthood recruits led to the building being abandoned and falling into a ruinous state. Architecturally, the building was heavily influenced by Le Corbusier and it is widely acknowledged as a modernist building of international significance.

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On the first day of Spring 2016

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Crossing the celestial line, a cloud on the first day of Spring

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The Caskieberran water tank, is a structure etched in the memory of growing up in the New Town of Glenrothes.  At that time, the tank was a grey monolith constructed at the highest point in the precinct where we lived. (1). It towered over the landscape, a mystery in concrete with no obvious sign of entry or exit. What was it really for? – a question much debated in the school playground. Perhaps, like an iceberg, it was the visible component of a vast, underground structure that constructed the hippos and mushrooms that dotted our landscape.

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Or possibly, it was full of some mind-altering drug pumped through the water supply to create a compliant polis, bearing in mind that most folk had been transplanted from elsewhere in Scotland and thrown together on this greenfield site of former farmland.

By coincidence, a Proustian revisit, last weekend, coincided with the vernal equinox. That day when the Sun traverses the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth – the celestial equator – heralding the first day of Spring. As if on cue, a heat-beating-sun emerged overhead to project great swathes of light over the gleaming edifice of the water tank now painted brilliant white. Directly above, a spring-blue canvas hatched swirling wisps of translucent cloud. A cinema show of cumulus, breath and breeze playing out across the sky..

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[watching]

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A graffito at the base of the water tank anchors a nodal point in the time-memory continuum. Grey hued images from the past merge with the brilliant white and blue of the present moment. The wider thought as to what will be the defining colour of a world to come: breathing green; water constrained brown; carbon black? …

When the sun crosses the celestial line in future years, hopefully, we will have cared enough for our planet, to sustain the usual ciphers that announce the arrival of spring: hawthorn bursts, daffodils, bee drone, butterflies and chiffchaff song.  The reassurance of invisible cycles made visible, of a world continuing to turn.

And with an eye to those future first days of Spring, no matter where we find our feet are standing, there will be a nod to past turnings remembered.  Of a world at a point in the web of time. That cloud, on the first day of Spring, 2016; a landscape of concrete mushrooms and hippos; a gleaming white water tank; a farm and a New Town precinct both called Caskieberran …

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The colours of a world to come.

≈≈≈

(1) The housing schemes in Glenrothes were called precincts, taking their names from existing hamlets or from the farmland on which they were built such as Caskieberran and Rimbleton.

Now playing: Karin Krog – ‘Cloud Line Blue’ from Don’t Just Sing: A Karin Krog Anthology 1963-1999.

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Cut Curve Circle

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Cut

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the curve

…..and call of 

……….the coastline

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a cellular circle

……….an expanding

…………………….world

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Now playing: The Incredible String Band – ‘A Very Cellular Song’ from The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter.

Posted in Ephemera - Encounters, Field Trip, Happenstance, Observation, Poetry, Psychogeography, rag-pickings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments