Tag Archives: psychogeography

The Drunken Boot – Laced Up

Stand Up !

Paddleboarders against the slightly grey Seattle skyline. Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

Last Sunday Harpo and I set out from the Henry Art Gallery with a few new friends, and a few old acquaintances, on an unplanned day-long dérive  – the public presentation of our ongoing work titled *Map Not Included, which is included in the Henry’s Field Studies program this summer. We walked, together and apart, for 8 hours – ending our outing at the Hideout on First Hill to recap our experiences.


OUr day started with check-in at the Henry Art Gallery on the UW Campus. The Henry provided coffee and delicious fruit trays and Mighty-O hooked up the delicious vegan donuts – it makes it hard not to overdose on sugar when it’s vegan & organic… Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

Our intent was to offer people a framework for a personal, unmediated, unplanned adventure. Whilst hiking the Appalachian Trail last year, we were always on a path and more or less knew where we were going. With our dérive, we experimented with a time-based exercise where destination and impact were not premeditated.

Quinoa Crispies

Harpo made quinoa crispies as emergency snacks for participants. The package included a transit voucher (in case a bus ride seemed in order) and an H+G button. The wrapper included some phrases we stole from Sark and a few of our own, as well as the ingredients of the vegan, gluten free crispies (and was printed with low environmental impact water based ink at VERA Project.) Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

While the walkers in general transcribed a westerly ark – headed towards Gasworks, then into Fremont, and some venturing as far as the Ballard Locks and Myrtle Edwards park what happened in between varied wildly. Some people chose to walk the entire time, while others did laundry or ran home to charge their batteries. Some people got free samples at Theo, others watched crabbers come in with their catch at a tiny public shore access in Ballard, or smoked a joint with DK Pan (who one might meet outside the Olympic Sculpture Park at any unspecified time). Some wandered through open air farmer’s markets, while others cozied up at a cafe with their journal. Some saw signs. Some returned to former places of meaning and let memory and emotion wash over them.

Harpo in the Trees

Harpo & Anne Blackburn being like “What’s up with these bags on the trees?”  Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

Urban Orchard

And then the explanation became manifest… some moments seemed magically connected – when we were wondering about the paper bags on trees along the Burke-Gilman trail, only to have a representative from Urban Orchards pull up and explain it as a pest-mediation technique – it’s this sense of connectivity, purpose or accidental choreography that was continually articulated throughout the day. Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

While we could have offered more constraints, it seemed best to allow anything to happen, providing a platform for open improvisation. What occurred was unexpected – people at the happy hour meet up, almost uniformly shared with us a moment of significance, whether noticing some detail (like an agave blooming after walking past it for years) or having a strong association with a specific architectural space. People also recalled to us how they suddenly found themselves in a locale that unlocked memories, emotions, events from years gone by. Some said they had no idea that they could easily traverse 10 miles in one day – they just hadn’t tried. It’s as if, by freeing ourselves from expectations about how to productively use time, we were more invested in seeing what was actually around us and coming into touch with our physical capability.

Enjoying a moment of respite, checking out the hazy horizon. There was also an international  Parkour meetup and tons of people jumping off things...

Enjoying a moment of respite, checking out the hazy horizon. There was also an international Parkour meetup and tons of people jumping off things… Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

We thank each and every participant who set aside a good chunk of a rainy Sunday to join us in this excursive diversion – as well as the super Whitney Ford-Terry, who hooked it up. Also, our lovely photographer Lindsey Rae Gjording who provided all of the images above. And not to forget, Mighty-O for the tasty vegan, organic snacks. Kudos all on getting lost…

George at the Hideout made the secret happy hour extra happy - the drink special was "The Fucking Classic." Classy...

George at the Hideout made the secret happy hour extra happy – the drink special was “The Fucking Classic.” Classy… Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

Home is How You Make It

As we inhabit this mobile architecture, moving ever forward, pitching our tarp between trees atop mountain passes and taking momentary refuge in rented beds and renovated farmhouses home has often been a topic of conversation.

When it packs in a rucksack, manifests itself in motel kitchenettes, and echoes between the walls of drafty wooden lean-tos the idea of home and how we construct it becomes ephemeral.

Bachelard talks about our oneric concept of home in his Poetics of Space – how the architecture we encounter during childhood shapes our perception of home. In Western culture these ideas are often based on fixity, permanence & ownership; each person a king of their own castle. Yet the idea of the ‘family’ or ‘childhood’ home becomes increasingly inaccessible as homes change hands. The American ideal encourages a separation between the childhood and adult homes; without distancing yourself from your childhood home, traveling between dorms & dilapidated apartments and suffering the torments of slum lords, you cannot achieve adulthood without achieving ‘home ownership.’ This is both a visible declaration of upward social mobility and a moving point circling an ever smaller center. Although economic circumstances have made home ownership impossible or untenable for many, we still can’t divorce ourselves from the ‘permanence’ of home and it’s essential architecture. Our memories of home are locked in an architecture whose doors are forever closed to us.

We are learning that the architecture of home is a actually more purely conceptual – our tarp is a representation of our own ideas of home. The architecture of the tarp, with its taught ridge line and gabled inner net enclosure physically represents the architecture of the home. Yet it’s openness to light and sound suggests we expand the boundaries we use to define the ‘home’… We accept the home’s temporality and it’s shifting geometry, it’s site specificity, and invite in a cool breeze or the sharp & sweet songs of birds at dawn.

In our case, the ‘home’ reflects more how it is made, and the community that supports it, rather than the space it defines. Embracing the concept of a barn raising, each time we erect the tarp we reflect simultaneously on the uniqueness and variability of the location and the richness of the community that facilitated our experience at this place.

We thank our friend Brenna, who let us monopolize her sewing room for a night, which helped us realize how inept we were at sewing. We sincerely thank our friend Zoe – who helped us stitch the tarp and net – every time we weather a surprise thunder storm or a biblical plague of mosquitoes. We think of the body of knowledge developed and shared by Ray Jardine whose pattern we used to construct the tarp, which has benefitted generations of backpackers. And we reflect on the people we have met – an evolving community of travelers traversing a shared landscape inhabited by singular visions – as a new type of community to support our new vision of how we make a home.