Unselected readings

Megan Hicks

Thursday 29th April, 2010, from 10am-12pm

Bon Marche Studio (Bldg. 3, Lvl. 1, Rm. 105)

Presentation: 20mins

As a committed reader of roads, sidewalks and parking lots, I am always on the lookout for pavement inscriptions wherever I happen to be. I now have a large collection of photographs from which I can select examples to make points about city living and the use of public spaces.

But what if I didn’t exercise choice? What if I took a dérive, a drift, a wander in the manner of psychogeographers? If I started on an unsignificant day, at an arbitrary spot, and took an arbitrary route, and walked until I couldn’t go any further? And if I photographed every picture, sign and scribble on the pavement along the way? Would a coherent story unfold? Would an unsuspected narrative be discovered? Or would that series of inscriptions reveal nothing particularly special at all? There is only one way to find out. I propose to undertake this literary experiment and offer the results as a slide show at Open Fields.

The idea to conduct this experiment was inspired by Bradley L. Garrett, an ethnographer of urban exploration in the department of Social and Cultural Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London:
… many people are using psychogeographic techniques to navigate city space in new and interesting ways all the time, such as walking the city using algorithms, applying random models to a (supposedly) fixed template, replacing one arbitrary motivation (I am walking to work) with another one (I am walking 4 streets North, 2 streets East and 1 street North until I can’t walk anymore) … I think that geography has a lot to learn from psychogeography, both in terms of its historical trajectory and in terms of modern practice … http://bradleygarrett.com/2009/10/19/psychogeography/

On 16 April Megan took an experimental drift through Surry Hills in Sydney.  A 5-minute compilation of this first set of Unselected Readings can be viewed here.

Megan Hicks is undertaking a postgraduate research project at Macquarie University based on her photographs of pavement inscriptions in urban and rural areas. Her blog site is Pavement Graffiti. Megan was formerly a curator at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and now works as a curatorial consultant.

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