Psychogeography - Experts and Related folk

Marina Zurkow - NewTown Creek piece

Rebecca Solnit - writer

Janet Cardiff - sound walk artist, nytimes piece

Holladay brothers - site specific music apps

Chris Watson - field recordings and sonic collage

Pejk Malinowski - audio narrative work

Stephen Vitiello - Bells piece on the Highline

Zach Layton - Issue Project Room

Ryoji Ikeda - visual, site specific electronic music installations

Andy Goldsworthy - site specific land art

Psychogeography Research - running thread


New Media/Site Specific:

One Place after Another: Site Specific Art and Locational Identity by Miwon Kwon


Site Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation by Nick Kaye


The Engagement Aesthetic: Experiencing New Media Art through Critique by Francisco Ricardo


Visual Music by Brian Eno


Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller piece in NYTimes -    


Sound Studies:

Acoustic Communication by Barry Truax


Sonic Thinking: A Media Philosophical Approach edited by Bernd Herzogenrath


Low End Theory: Bass, Bodies and the Materiality of Sonic Experience by Paul Jasen


Mixed Reality:

Performing Mixed Reality by Steve Benford and Gabriella Giannachi



Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord


Psychogeography by Merlin Coverley


Psychogeography: Disentangling the Modern Conundrum of Psyche and Place by Will Self and Ralph Steadman


You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination by Katherine Harmon


Developmental Time, Cultural Space: Studies in Psychogeography by Howard Stein


Insight and Imagination: A Study in Knowing and Not Knowing in Organizational Life by Howard Stein


A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit


Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit and Liisa Ivary


Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life by Colin Ellard


Maps from the Mind: readings in Psychogeography by William Niederland and Howard Stein


Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes our Lives by Sarah Williams Goldhagen


Spirits of Place by Alan Moore

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Psychogeography- how can a playful exploration of the way that physical spaces affect our emotions and behaviors inform environmentally informed projects regarding the use of spatial sound and augmented reality.


    Guy Debord - Marxist theorist coins term in 1955

    Situationist International

    wandering, urban space


        andy goldsworthy

             rivers and tides

    site-specific work


    field recording

    her long black hair - janet cardiff


  environmentalist sound projects


week 6 - Call for proposal/initial Questions

Set out your intentions and goals:

- goals for the project by week 14

    Produce an immersive aural experience that takes a site specific setting to deepen and change the way that visitors feel about the space (its history or geographical context) and how they behave within the space (in groups vs alone, thoughtfully vs absurdly, can this be therapeutic to the individual, create empathy for the space and its cohabitants..).  


- goals for your process

    continue to pursue technology and ideas that challenge me, like incorporating bluetooth or the Juce audio platform, for example, or pursuing difficult lines of research such as untold histories and unknowable sounds. Look at the landscape of people making this now and what has come before so that the final piece has originality.  Distill academic thinking and theoretical approaches down into a final, easily grasped concept.  Input from the clouds, but output lives on the ground.


What are your opening questions/hypothesis?

    How can an understanding of psychogeography and site specific art making inform a project that seeks to use sound and environment to meaningfully change a user’s spatial/contextual awareness and behavior.


- what are some related projects

   Her Long Black Hair by Janet Cardiff


- identify methods of projects that share some aspect of your work

   Narrators.  Naturalistic Sound Design.  Low-tech technological experiences.  Seamless experiential entries and transitions.  Public space.  Iconic landmarks. 


Think of at least two analogies for your topic or project:

   Guided meditations, field guides, guidebooks, books on tape, treasure maps, easter egg hunts, blindfolds, sensory deprivation pools, anechoic chambers,


- provide images to create comparisons


Think of a couple of contexts/ calls your work might fit

    Design a sound installation that immerses visitors in the unseen historical context of a site.  “ “ in an empathetic experience.  “ “ in the feelings and memories of their own childhood.  Design a sound walk that confronts ideas of normalcy and urban design that visitors to metropolitan urban environments may take for granted.


- Make something out of junk, scrap, leftovers, friends, etc

   This collage combines a baby photo from Hawaii, a recent immigration artifact from a flight to Jamaica, and a color photo of a lit up Manhattan and Central Park (it's snaking pathways the focus here) that was given to me by the office of my summer job.  It is meant to be a simple transposition of some of the questions I want to engage with, such as physical space, urban landmarks, transience, naivete, growth, personalized adventure..




Responses from class, answer these for homework:

What do you want to know about the world?



Why do you want to know it?


How can art/design help you answer the question?


week 4 readings - Acoustic Ecology and Soundscapes

"Soundscape as a System and auditory Gestalt" by Sabine Breitsameter

The sound researcher and composer R. Murray Schaefer, in The Tuning of the World - 1977 , coins the terms soundscape and acoustic ecology.  

    soundscape - the sonic envelope which surrounds a listener.  includes all sounds, even small and distant ones.  creates a consciousness for often ignored sounds. " The sonic representation of living material and immaterial presents in a certain space or place.” - Breitsameter

        “To see the landscape with the ears.” - Schaefer

    acoustic ecology:  explores environment as a conceptual approach or mindset, allowing sound to be deeply considered.  reveals the sonic interdependencies between living things and their environments.

        e.g. - air pollution —> less sound bounces around through air, more encumbered —> quieter forest —> also kills some vegetation and forest life —> even quieter forest 

        oppositie example - noise pollution. e.g. loud spaces like bars, lead to hearing loss and strained vocal chords, and acoustic ecology thus considers all of these effects (communication difficulties, physical damage, loss of sonic diversity)

       Schaefer argues that urban noise pollution is a harmful waste product, in particular is characterized by the values of industrial life and technology - air conditioner hums + construction + non-stop motors = efficiency, mobility and consumption.

    thus acoustic ecology becomes a political consideration.

        “Soundscapes provide information on an environment’s natural and social consistency, and allow to draw inferences about its priorities, deficits, and power structures.” - Schaefer

       opponents of Schaefer’s attitudes on urban noise counter that his ideas are overly romantic, technophobic and aesthetically normative.

soundscape is a plurality.  a conversation.  its diverse elements exert influence on each other.

acoustic ecology draws listener, sound, and environment together.  

     Schaefer finds that the historical development of soundscapes favor the visual, and societal conditions heavily impact our sensory perception. He believes ugly and tedious sounds gain ground over the beautiful and stress-free which lead to more general well-being and health.   Thus we collectively develop the sense over time that the auditory senses are ‘background’ and it becomes harder for us to develop sensitivities in this regard towards life/media/art

Malcolm McLuhan

    The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962)

        The medium is the message, and is a field.  The field’s elements effect each other, and so it is an open system that transforms and adapts and incorporates everything.

       the mosaic approach - attention to all sounds at once.  “Instant total awareness.”

        mosaic approach is prerequisite for enabling an ear-centered approach to perception.

gestalt - an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.

       before the term soundscape was popularized..

       -->         !!! "The ear world is a world of simultaneous relationships.” -McLuhan  !!!

                    -thus listening becomes a formative activity, requiring the listener to endeavor to alternate between methodologies - analytic and selective, synthesizing and integral.

               similar to the approach you take when listening to polyphonic music too.

one of McLuhan’s big idea was we need to understand media as an environment.

and a specific idea of his from Narcrissus Narcosis - denial of the audile tactile by a society that has become addicted to images and despises that which is audible.

        we’re nullifying, dumbing, blunting, our ability to hear.  

week 3 readings

very well written and considered, and gives a very strong example of how systems have inherent bias by looking at 8 different systems thinking perspectives view the debate around GMO wheat and the research trials at Rothamsted.

- - - - - - 

Containing and Overlapping Systems

Contain - flora, fauna, agriculture, GMO research, weather.

Overlapping - Food distribution and production, education, waste management.

- - - - - - -

Symphony of the Soil documentary  -  Sooo good.  Totally cracked open the way that I understand the ground and disregard it's complexity and age.  The scenes in Hawaii were particularly fascinating -  looking at how soil of different ages on top of old lava flow.  Very happy to have seen this - again thanks Marina!

symphony of the soil film cover.jpg


- - - - - - -

3 Articles with citations

Starting from a place of self-interest seems appropriate.  Since I garden in my backyard here in Brooklyn, I often overlook the potential soil contaminants and lack of healthy biology in the soil that grows my veggies.  

Relationship between soil heavy metal contamination and soil food web health in vacant lots slated for urban agriculture in two post-industrial cities.  by Kuhuk Sharma, Zhiqiang Cheng and Parwinder S. Grewal


One of the big issues that the amazing documentary - thanks Marina! - brought to light was the history of over-tilling and over-fertilizing land used for agriculture.  The film states that 1/3 of the world's arable land has been destroyed over human history due to this erosion and poisoning. 

Ecosystem services of the soil food web after long-term application of agricultural management practices.  by Xiaoke Zhang, Howard Ferris, Jeffrey Mitchell, and Wenju Liang.


How much does multi-channel feeding and increased biodiversity have to do with the health of a soil food web.

Reticulated channels in soil food webs. by E.M. Wolkovich.

- - - - - -


Brooke Singer


Dr Elaine Ingham


- - - - - 

Pursuing the audio angle in this research

David Dunn - interesting research into the sounds of natural phenomena like light, and how our brains interpret it.  So wonderful too that all of the experts so far in this line of research have revealed on video to be such lovely humans.  This guy included.



Overlooking Underground

In the first week of research into the Soil Food Web, I wanted to respond in a way that was impulsive and which transposed the scientific knowledge into a introduction in a new medium.  I wanted to ask some creative questions about life underground, see how they felt written out, spoken, sound designed.  

What does underground sound like?   I found a BBC recording of an earthworm, centipede, and snail being recorded inside an anechoic chamber.  Some other recordings of earthworms making soil helped to give a sense of what the process of making earth sounds like.

I also wanted to respond to the readings, which featured ideas about the nature of critical design as a way to ask new questions, and understanding the idea of audience.  It seemed to tie in nicely with my topic of research, that processes (e.g. photosynthesis) and a variety of organisms, bacteria and creatures that make up the foundations of natural life are witness to humans much more so than the other way around.  We walk on top of and within these elements without awareness.  

Week 1 - Readings

Dunne and Raby - Critical Design

Interesting to consider the speculative work of these designers in the context of beginning to research a topic that I've never previously considered - the Soil Food Web.  The strangeness of their moving landscape in which travelers would live out their entire lives is almost as strange an idea as the reality that an animal kingdom of tiny creatures plays out the theater of an underground ecosystem.  Wild ideas spark imagination.

Taking Art Seriously: Understanding Studio Research

"At a panoramic level it is not too extravagant to claim that it is the visual which shapes our experience of the world" - Bernard Hoffert

   - "You are what you look at." Dan O'Sullivan, in Rest of You

Research in art takes on the same fundamental goal as in any other discipline..."research results in new knowledge and the final test of new knowledge is what it contributes to the human condition.

Comparing the advancements in medicine, science and technology to the cultural benefits that new art (as a result of art research) does seem related but not analogous.  The latter rests on much more subjectivity.  

Also I must include this opinion piece from this weekend's NYTimes alongside his example of the implied purity and objective net benefit of the formation of Yosemite Natl Park.

Art knowledge - music example - Russolo's Noise Machines, his intonarumori (here in action in contemporary art music ensemble discussing and performing his piece The Art of Noise)


The Menaced Assassin - Rene Magritte


"..the challenge becomes to establish the academic infrastructure and a research methodology through which art can be undertaken as research in university degrees; to allow practice based research the same recognition and status accorded other research."  

     - What we're moving towards in this class.


Publics and Counterpublics - Michael warner

Nature of a/the public

Vague vs distinct.  Anyone in a society, anyone who may ever read a particular text, or anyone inside a stadium at an event


Type 1 - the social totality

Type 2 - concrete audience event based

Type 3 - assembled out of shared experience but nondependent on time (readers of a text)


Autotelic - (of an activity or a creative work) having an end or purpose in itself.


1. “A public is self-organized.”

A public is a conversation, and forms solely because people want to take part in that conversation.

“It exists by virtue of being addressed.”

Because there’s a circular logic here - can a public exists if no one hears you speak? - this def of public “is as notional as it is empirical.”

Publics can of course be partial in their fraction of a total population.

“(The public, different from the total a public) is self-creating and self-organized, and herein lies its power, as well as its elusive strangeness.”


Efficacious - (typically of something inanimate or abstract) successful in producing a desired or intended result; effective.


Powerlessness and questions of free will haunt citizens in modern capitalist societies because of our humanist liberal ideologies.  We navigate worlds of corporate interests, and so organizing ourselves based on shared interest in conversation and values is incredibly encouraging and meaningful, even if shared belief in faith and group-making/world-making (aka self organized publics) “we would be nothing but citizens of capital (which of course we might be, and some more than others).”


This must be why in modern societies where the lack of a freedom to assemble must be one of the most spirit crushing conditions of all.


“Any distortion or blockage in access to a public can be so grave, leading people to feel powerless and frustrated. “

  • Voting is external framework imposed on a public, and a poor substitute for notions of free will.  A la Clay, voting individualizes the illusion of power, and for many their votes are meaningfully irrelevant as they are residents but not members of a selectorate.


Merely paying attention to a discourse equals membership in a public, and we can be members of many different publics, thus it is very hard for social scientitsts and pollsters to sutudy these groups.  How do we quantify a public?

  • Polling - most powerful example of escaping the circularity of publics, and extricating data from a public.

“An elaborate apparatus designed to characterize a pubic as social fact independent of any discursive circulation.”


In fact though when you add up all these data points it does not equal a public opinion because it has none of the flexibility or reflexive framing of a public discourse.  “It lacks the embodied creativity and world-making of publicness.”  You have to analyze a public within the context and form that it takes, and polling attempts to quantify/sample that quality outside of those forms.  “Publics do not exist apart from the discourse that addresses them.”


“Publics exist by nature of their address.”


2. “A public is a relation among strangers.”


A public is made up of strangers, but strangers in a within a public have commonality of origin, belief, etc.  These form the basis of tribalism, one of our most innate and treasured characteristics.  


Gesellschaft - social relations based on impersonal ties, as duty to a society or organization.


3. “The address of public speech is both personal and impersonal.”


Louis Althusser’s notion of interpellation - communist philosopher whose theory that states are made up of Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs, e.g. private institutions like church, family) and Repressive State Apparatuses (RSAs, e.g. public institutions like military, police).  The two are fundamental to continually reproduce the dominant ideology in a society.  Interpellation is when ideology, embodied in major social and political institutions (ISAs and RSAs), constitutes the very nature of individual subjects' identities through the process of "hailing" them in social interactions.

As in the example of the cop that yells ‘hey you!’ at you , and when you turn around to acknowledge the hail you have turned yourself into a subject.


4. “A public is constituted through mere attention.”

The only condition of entry into a public is to pay attention, in whatever amount.

Even if you went to a performance and slept through the entire thing you’d still be a part fo that public, because  you elected to be there and not somewhere else.

Thus the existence of a public is contingent on the activity of the public’s members.

Like a church is dependent on the active uptake of it’s message through upkeep and strengthening of faith and of conversion fo new members.


Appellation - a name or title. Or, the action of giving a name to a person or thing.


5. “A public is the social space created by the reflexive circulation of discourse.”


Concatenate - link (things) together in a chain or series.


Alone, a text cannot create a public, but if that text is in response to a previously understood or known ideology then it can address a public.  There is a social element here of ideas in conversation with one another, a “context of interaction.”


Dialogic - relating to or in the form of dialogue.


Polemic - a strong verbal or written attack on someone or something.


Warner discusses here the history of polemicists ability to reach audiences or affect publics, ostensibly because they are good at turning up the volume on their argument.  **I wonder if there would be an interesting line of research into the history of quiet ideas that have effectively reached publics and gone viral.**


6. “Publics act historically according to the temporality of their circulation.”

Populations cannot look too far into the past when they converse with historical ideas. An example of politics - “In modernity, politics takes much of its character from the temporality of the headline, not the archive.”


Thus, texts that have publics are inherently intertextual and intergeneric, because they must continue to receive attention and circulate through time.  There must be some significant measurement of an idea or document’s temporality.


This is why webpages may fundamentally disrupt publics, because it is difficult to time stamp their creation.  Unlike books or journals or newspapers, the internet exists in a vague and sprawling temporality.

“If the change of infrastructure continues at this pace, and if modes of apprehension change accordingly, the absence of punctual rhythms may make it very difficult to connect localized acts of reading to the mosdes of agency in the social imaginary of modernity.

**When rhythms land where we expect them we locate ourselves within time, space, context.**

At some point, Warner argues, we may have to lose the notion of ‘circulation’ entirely if media becomes so overwhelmingly consumed via the rhythmless web.


7. “A public is poetic world making.”

Indefinite address, self-organized discourse - this is risky territory.  “Abandons the security of the positive, given audience.”
But in this way is becomes the engine for recharacterizations of ideas and social mutation.

In other words, “public discourse is poetic.”


Mise en scene - the arrangement of scenery and stage properties in a play.  Or, the setting or surroundings of an event or action.


Interlocution - the interchange of speech.  An interruptive utterance.


Lexicon - the vocabulary of a person, language, or branch of knowledge.


Idiom - a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g., rain cats and dogs, see the light ). Or, a characteristic mode of expression in music or art.  "they were both working in a neo-impressionist idiom"


In this world making poetic way, a public is in search of itself.  A text is inherently saying ‘let’s have a public that responds and pays attention to this, uses this lexicon, has this character’ and then you run it up and the flagpole and see who salutes.  Throw a show, see who comes.


"What if.. Crafting Design Speculations" keynote talk by Anthony Dunne at Interaction Design Association