Saturday, November 18, 2006

Brighton in stitches

In a new exhibition, Running Stitch, Jen Southern and Jen Hamilton are 're-configuring Brighton & Hove by 'capturing' its space through the movement of its inhabitants'. Visitors are given a special mobile phone that tracks their movements and allow their paths through the city to be 'projected live in the gallery to disclose aspects of the city unknown to the artists. Each individual route will then be sewn into a hanging canvas to form an evolving tapestry that reveals a sense of place and interconnection.'

It will be interesting to see a tapestry mapping the sort of places favoured by the kind of people that visit Brighton's Fabrica gallery. However, when I saw it this afternoon, the pattern of stitches was already starting to look like conventional maps of the city. I was hoping visitors would deliberately subvert the city's network of main roads and shops, or employ the kind of chance procedures used in situationist dérives. So will Brighton be re-configured or end up stitched in a conventional pattern? We'll probably know before the exhibition finishes on 17 December.


Anonymous said...

(first translation of the complete text by Ivan Chtcheglov)

"But can I ever forget the one whom I see everywhere in the greatest moment
of our adventures -- he who in those uncertain days opened up a new path and
forged ahead so rapidly, choosing those who would accompany him? No one else
was his equal that year. It might almost have been said that he transformed
cities and life merely by looking at them. In a single year he discovered
enough material for a century of demands; the depths and mysteries of urban
space were his conquest. The powers that be, with their pitiful falsified
information that misleads them almost as much as it bewilders those under
their administration, have not yet realized just how much the rapid passage
of this man has cost them" (Guy Debord).

Debord is recalling Ivan Chtcheglov, with whom he made many of his
pioneering "psychogeographical" explorations and experiments in the early
1950s. Until now Chtcheglov has remained an obscure and mysterious figure,
known only for a single abridged text ("Formularly for a New Urbanism"), a
few letters written from the mental hospital where he spent most of the
later part of his life, and a few intriguing reminiscences by Debord and his
contemporaries. Editions Allia has just published a biographical study by
Jean-Marie Apostolidès and Boris Donné, "Ivan Chtcheglov, profil perdu",
along with a slim volume of Chtcheglov's "Écrits retrouvés" that includes
the first publication of the complete "Formulary". This complete version has
been translated by Ken Knabb at

* * *

Texts of related interest at the same website:

"Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography" (Debord)

"Proposals for Rationally Improving the City of Paris"
(Lettrist International)

"Theory of the Dérive" (Debord)

"Situationist Theses on Traffic" (Debord)

"Another City for Another Life" (Constant)

"Elementary Program of the Bureau of Unitary Urbanism" (Kotanyi & Vaneigem)

"Territorial Domination"
(chapter of Debord's "The Society of the Spectacle")

"In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni"
(Debord film featuring a eulogy to Chtcheglov)

"Banning Cars from Manhattan" (Paul & Percival Goodman)

"Urbanism and Community Planning" (Kenneth Rexroth)

"The Blossoming of Free Communities"
(section of Ken Knabb's "The Joy of Revolution")

aureliaray said...

Having visited the exhibition today (9 December) I am afraid your predicted map is taking shape with a very heavy concentration of stitching in the central core of the city. There are a few threads going directly south into the sea but apparently this is caused by a failure of the mobile phones rather than visitors' desires to head straight for France!

snarlerson said...

I enjoyed it but thought that there was also a sinister angle. In our over-surveilled society, I am not sure that I want someone knowing and recording my movements.