Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Grand Derive reports from 20.11.04
The following derives were undertaken using an algorithm of 2nd Right, 2nd Right, 1st Left, Repeat. This algorithm was first used in experiments by Social Fiction in 2001. It seemed appropriate for this exercise as it would force us to explore the seemingly mundane corners of Wycombe's small but diverse urban realm.
The Mayor of High Wycombe complete with sold gold chain of office sees us off on our way from a rainy Bridge Street carpark. I elected to head east. Maybe it was a spiritual pull towards the Rye. Found a spot roughly in the middle of the carpark so that I’d be able to return to the spot and repeat the exercise in two years when the TCR is finished, it was opposite Leywood House on Denmark Street.....There are steps leading up and we follow the path to its logical conclusion which is the door of no.25. Dead end. But there is a bank and wooden fence then fields. I hit the fellas with the choice - jump over the fence or go back. I ponder for a second and realise that the only way to go is over the fence, it’s a barrier, it says don’t go here an artificial demarcation of space, a provocation. The fields are calling me and also I’m intrigued by how the algorithm will behave in the woods.There is always a defining moment in a derive when it takes off, jumping over the fence was that moment, we are now in the grip of the fugue.
West End Road - We’re drawn to a low slightly knackered panel fence behind is a yard of rubble with a front door dying lying flat in the middle and a couch to one side like a house has exploded. A potent smell of hash is in the air and we joke that an enormous brick of hash caused the house to explode.
Short Street - Anodyne blocks, Diametrics Medical, vintage ford van that I photo then opposite I spy a classic public loo standing alone on the opposite side of the street. The more I look at it the more it appears perfect in its symmetry, a perfect building, dropped from the sky, on either side its square orange lights glow, it looks Soviet, what is it doing here, it exudes a strong smell of public loo. JJ and David are impressed, in Brighton it would be closed down due to ‘misuse’. I reassure them that it’s probably the offices of some of the local prostitutes.
We’re facing and enormous slab building - VERNON BUILDING - that I feel I’ve seen in a dream, reminds me of something I’ve drifted past in Ultimo, Sydney - the printing presses of the Sydney Morning Herald and I remember thinking back then as I first explored those streets of industrial central sydney how it put me in mind of Wycombe, even the pubs were vaguely Wycombesque.
this is an abridged version of the grand derive report, the full text will be published in January 2005
Leave bridge street car park with lorna, all hopes of derive dashed as she just wants me to go home with her to see her studio. Anyhow, try to grasp some sense of algorithum. Cross the road by Morissons and meet an old German lad who recognises Lorna – chat about old days. Agree to leave Lorna and see her studio another time.
So head back to re-start derive from bridge street and head north up Bellfield Road. 2nd right into Parker Knoll way – choice – do I take the tarmac’d pedestrian path or the muddy one cutting the corner – take muddy path.
Cross the road as it curves around Morrisons as I feel this will ensure I continue north for my next right turn. The guard on the the gate at Morrisons looks bored and flicks his cigarette out of the window of his portakabin.
This area has changed, it looks all clean and respectable and I can’t remember what was here before.
Follow Chinese couples’ footsteps laden with shopping. Road still hugs Morrisons and about to seize 2nd right and notice its an enticing alleyway – how lucky is that. It looks like it may lead to arcadia! Cross the road, traffic swarming, slight hesitation about being alone and walking up said inviting alley – think about muggings etc. Immediately as I start to walk up the alleyway, the hum of the traffic fades and its quiet and peaceful. The alley is boarded by back gardens and Industrial Estate.
Old derelict, unloved, green, river wye, remenants of the past, quiet. Hooded lad, eyes down, I look over my shoulder. End of Alley.
Out onto Hughenden Avenue. 1st left and up and up into Hughenden Ave.
2nd right leads up steps, looks promising again going up and up but no, a dead end but with views of the valley below and sheep grazing in the distance. Turn around and back onto Hughenden Ave. Up, Up Up I can’t keep on going up I’ll never get back to the car park.
Buck the Algorithum
Cross the road and head back down. Residential, Allen roofing van, quiet.
2nd right down alleyway with a sign of a swan on it. Down down, I could be walking the woods in Beaconsfield (quiet, leafy), down down, down back to Industrial estate and Morrison gleaming in front.
2nd right leads straight into doorway of Morrisons.
Tea and cake and first left out into the car park.
1.30pm leave car park. 5 slow
Edge of dovecot woman in Merc locked the door as I stood there.
13:35 under the whirl. Subway mouth organist, bring back my bonnie to me to me
left under the xmas lights, past mens fashions for immediate hire and then past the shameless façade of Totes bookies. 10 men standing around smoking and staring at screens. Girl shouts oi! From boyfriends lowered red peugot 305.
Right on bell lane, Coral. Younger clientele on fruit machines. One woman. 13:45 first dead end. Cashpoint stop “that’s got no money in it”.
13:48 second dead end. Enter the Octagon, left turn, Allsport, right at Boots and Virgin, right 50, craft market, herbal remedies, lava lamps and celtic towels.
Left by station, right 13:55, back at car park.
Left, Mendy Street, right, reliant parts, right university laundry, left 14:00 avoiding turn by one otherwise it would repeat, the enormous job centre. A little bit of river. Right 14:08 The Pastures, under bridge, zone ends.
Right up alley, thank god that hill was huge, up steps into residential, no. 28
Left up hill, panoramic hills, camera runs out so using mine. That was Wyatt Close. 14:15 Right to Garretts Way, Right Wren Vale leading to Hawksmoor Close, hope its not on the left. It wasn’t but Wren Vale was a dead end too. Take my left at which sparks has signed (collect stencil).
Right turn back onto Garrett and down past Ripley Close. Right down steps, I’ve escaped.
14:29 cheated. Took another right, left would have taken me back into the estate, down alley past tile showroom. Left between Jewsons and Morrisons. Jewsons alarm going off.
14:32 Derive stopped.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Originally uploaded by Fugueur.
Alan's notes from the Lunchtime Derive
Turn right out of office to be away from town
Desborough Road – shops changing
Desborough Road Service Road
Trying to guess where it will all end up and failing and hoping to end up somewhere I have never been
Scruffy backs of shops always interesting
Noticed crack in old red brick building across the car park
Backs of new buildings later so boring
Castle like roofs of Family Centre a contrast to squareness
Turn right into Desborough Ave
Houses ahead piled up the Hillside
Good day for a walk
Good reflections in the stream. Perhaps I should bring my camera to work
This was going to be the Oxford Road back into Town and kind of hoped for a road I didn’t know before that but there was none.
Why do cars break down at traffic lights!
Even along a busy road there is beauty in a beech tree in its autumn glory
Shopping trolley goes for a paddle in the stream!
Having the camera made me look around even more than usual
Lovely old houses next to new job centre. Contrasts.
Left up Bellfield Road
Lovely warm sun
Very familiar piece of road but because I seldom walk up here (past the turning to Sainsburys) time to look at the bridge
Love the wild tumble of plants below Focus Do It All. Sense of wildness amongst the regimented streets
Photo of Old Mans Beard – not many people know it’s a Clematis
2nd Right into Parker Knoll Way
· do I stick to the pavement
· do I take a short cut like others across the grass
Who makes these paths
Ahead - lovely old jumble of buildings and roofs. New and old and trees on the skyline.
I like all the trees in HW
Nice "jungle" along the railway embankment. Could hear birds in spite of the roar of the traffic
2nd right a bit contrived at by junction
Right backs towards Frogmore
Past a sad neglected flower bed but even so the roses are still in flower
1st left under bridge into Frogmore
The Clock House has great character. But in some ways you feel it could be happier in a country estate!
You have to be an optimist to put tables outside a pub in HW in November. But there were some takers
More people about now – felt a contrast of my wandering and their purposeful walking.
The sun playing on the fountain gave great light effects but hard to capture with a camera.
Idea/thought of capturing in fixed form the dynamic movement of something i.e. fountain
Into Oxford Street
Interpretation of what is a right can give different routes
Right down Queens Square
Right down White Hart Street
Coming out of Bull Lane into Oxford Street
Left along past M&S
Everything must go – where to!
Up Castle Street
Like the quietness behind the church and the other buildings along north side of Castle Street
Amusing contrast of "scruffy" girls looking at dresses in a bride’s shop.
2nd Right down Corporation Street to High Street.
THE END - time constraint
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Desborough Hundred Psychogeographical Society
We have formed the Desborough Hundred Psychogeographical Society as a result of our project and to further our research into the psychogeography of the area potentially leading to a total transformation of everyday life. Revolutions start humbly.
We have printed our first newsletter and distributed it on Thursday. It includes: Wycombe TCR as Spectacle, the Ley Line that runs from West Wycombe to Burnham and reports of its effects on mundane objects in its area, derive report 2.5, and much more. You can pick up a copy for free from the Central Library, Wycombe Museum, Ruby Moon, BCUC, Tourist Information, The Roundabout, Scorpion Records or you can email us your address and we'll post you one.
We are also keen to receive submissions for the next edition which will come out when we get round to it.
All enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lunchtime Dérive – Report 11.11.04
Met Alan at the Guinness Trust Offices in Mendy Street at 12.30pm. He was ready for action. He handed me a piece of paper recording his lunchtime movements over the previous week. I gave him the notepad, disposable camera and choice of two algorithms written on white postcards which he picked blind. He chose:
2nd street right
I explained that he should follow the algorithm as closely as possible but if it led to a dead-end to head back to a point where the algorithm could be resumed. I also said that he should allow himself to be diverted from his route if he saw anything particularly interesting and then resume the formula.
At the bottom of the steps he could chose whether to start to the right or left down Mendy Street and he chose to go right towards Desborough Road. I followed filming with the video camera.
He started making notes and taking photos pretty quickly and very soon had his head down and was right into the spirit of the derive as he turned right off Desborough Road into Westbourne Street. The first left took him into the Desborough Road Service Road where we ran along the backs of garages dodging cars and palette trucks as lorries unloaded. You’d never normally go down here. With his head down writing and taking photos then purposefully marching off led by the algorithm it almost seemed that Alan had entered into the state of reverie of the ‘Fugueur’.
The next turning was into Desborough Avenue but at a point so unfamiliar to Alan that he had to go and find a street sign. This was the second new experience for him of the derive so far and led onto a third as we crossed a small open section of the river Wye at a low bridge babbling its way through an industrial estate and close to where it becomes culverted. We were both quite taken with this.
We next hit the heavy traffic of Oxford Road and some semi-derelict buildings. But even here amongst the banality there was beauty in the autumnal leaves by the roadside. From here it was into Bellfield Road and under a tunnel towards Hughenden and Morrisons supermarket. Alan photographed the overgrown railway banks with weeds in flower. We then headed in a loop around Parker Knoll Way, me scampering to keep up, Alan drawn to admire the verdant banks. This is an area of mini-roundabouts, a drive-through zone that Alan, a keen walker, had never explored on foot. We then crossed Temple End and under the railway bridge as a London-bound train clattered by overhead. This felt like a special moment as the deriver in the grip of the algorithm re-entered the life of the town. He stopped to take notes as the town bustled past him, took photos of a group of noisy lads drinking outside a pub. He was apart from this Spectacle, drifting through the lunchtime buzz like an urban explorer, a decipherer of the code of the everyday narrative.
He headed into White Hart Street after stopping to admire the fountain on Frogmoor. Then into Bull Lane where he reported that he thought the algorithm had broken down. As we’d been going for 45 minutes and the original intention had been to walk for 30 minutes I said he could stop here but he wanted to carry on; he thought he knew where it had gone wrong and so headed off along Church Street past M&S then past the Church into Castle Street and finally into Corporation Street. He decided to stop as he hit the High Street. The next left would take him towards Easton Street and the second right would most likely be at the Law Courts.
We discussed what had happened and Alan was enthusiastic about the experience, he keen to be loyal to the algorithm and said it was so often open to interpretation what the next right or left may be. This is part of what makes the process interesting and it was in these choices that much of the psychogeography lays. It confirms the idea that two people with the same algorithm starting from the same point would take a different route – we passed a few alleys and slip roads that other people may have taken. When we do the Grand Derive on Saturday we should ask people to note down these moments of indecision and the reason they take the street they do.
I think we can say that our first experiment in algorithmic psychogeography was a success. Alan certainly seemed to find " the unknown facets of the known, astonishment on the terrain of boredom, innocence in the face of experience", as Greil Marcus identifies as the point of the Derive.
A fuller report of this Lunch-Time Derive along with the photos and map of Alan’s walk will be exhibited in January.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
The Grand Derive
Come and stroll, drift and dérive around Wycombe to remap and re-imagine the town centre. We will meet at Bridge Street Car Park 1pm Saturday 20th November 2004 – look out for our banner. You will be given instructions and mapping equipment (notepad and pen, disposable camera). We will then walk for one hour charting our route on maps, taking notes and photos. The results will be compiled to make a people’s map of High Wycombe and presented in an exhibition in January 2005.
for more info email: email@example.com
Reframing High Wycombe: Films from Beyond the Western Sector
For one night only archive film and documentary footage from the Remapping High Wycombe project will be screened in the Shelburne Room at the Guildhall in collaboration with the Wycombe Film Society and Wycombe Museum. In addition to the archive film, which we will be hijacking with a soundtrack of stuff from readings of Milton to Bulgarian Throat Singing, we'll be screening our film of the MayorWeighing Ceremony "Regime Change in High Wycombe." We also hope to screen an excerpt from an unbroadcast TV pilot featuring comedian and Big Brother Eforum presenter Russell Brand.
programme length approx 1 hour
Wednesday 17th November 7.30pm
Shelburne Room, Guildhall Hall, High Wycombe, Bucks
Admission is free but places are limited.
for more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
tel; 07958 669255