Walks

Karl Heinz Jeron • 2008

QR Code, Openstreetmap software, Projekt Gutenberg archive and the Festival speech synthesis

Walks is a psychogeographycal audio guide. The artwork creates a fictional layer above the real world to create absurd or surreal situations. The guided audio tours use the Openstreetmap software to get directions. A text to speech conversion of texts retrieved from Project Gutenberg are available through QR codes. The search at Gutenberg is directed by street names.

In the audio guides, there is nothing to tell you when and where to listen to any particular entry, except your own moods, inclination, and place.

Walks is a form of psychogeography, a type of conscious wandering developed by Guy Debord and the Situationist International. Psychogeography attempts to reveal the ‘real city’ underneath what Debord called The Spectacle, which can be generally described as the flashy and seductive commodification of ideas.

Specifically, the audio guides draw on the concepts of the dérive and détournement. The dérive, or, “to drift,” involves walking around and trying to follow the emotional and psychological trajectories of an urban environment, rather than the ones planned out for you (the shortest commute from home to work, etc.) To pursue a dérive was “. . . to 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,” explained Sadie Plant in 1992.