18.46, Saturday 15 Jan 2011

Roll up your sleeves and do the following: starting at the main door and moving clockwise, clap strongly into each corner of your house. Clap from the lowest level to as high as you can reach to the ceiling. You will feel a huge difference in the quality of energy as the sound of clapping will be different depending on the accumulated energy. Be sure not to omit any corners in your house, and be sure to clap as much as necessary; some house corners will require more time. (This is a technique called space clearing.)


The Situationists adopted the technique of the dérive, to drift through the city without a goal and notice the way in which certain areas, streets, or buildings resonate with states of mind, inclinations, and desires, and to seek out reasons for movement other than those for which an environment was designed.

I used to spend my lunch breaks in London taking constrained walks following simple algorithms: first right, first left, repeat. (Or: second left, second left, first right, repeat.) I found myself on familiar roads, turning down side-streets I'd never noticed before. Thinking about why, I found that the architecture of the city, when I stood at a particular spot or walked in a particular way, would bend my attention towards some places and away from others. All it takes is a gentle curve to the right and a busy junction at the end, and the street in shadow to my left is unobserved and never taken. Every day. And then the habit is formed, and so, to me, it's as if the side-street never existed. And if everyone who walks down the street has the same experience, then the side-street is ignored and the main street is bustling and new shops open, and so positive feedback occurs that locks the city into this form. The psychogeography reinforces itself.

Constrained walks and the dérive both reveal the city's psychogeography, and force the city to give up more of itself. It's funny to find, right on my doorstep, the streets I didn't know that I didn't know, the ones I'd got the unknown habit of avoiding. The city grows.


Space clearing makes visible and disrupts the psychogeography of my home. By standing in far corners, I find new perspectives. I strengthen rarely visited spots in my own mental map. Later, I find myself noticing the corners more. My house looks larger. The changed shape of my rooms encourages me to walk differently about the space. I stand in slightly unfamiliar spots, look at my bookshelves with a new-found unfamiliarity, and this prompts new combinations of titles to come to my attention, and new ideas.

I wonder if I could make something to do this for me? Maybe a robot vacuum cleaner programmed to find rarely visited corners and play an attention-grabbing sample, hey, over here, over here.