Friday, 16 March 2012

On Guy Debord's 'naked city' (posted on 16/3/12)

'The naked city', Guy Debord & Asger Jorn, 1957. Print screen.

Back in the 50's, through the Lettrist group, a forerunner of the Situationist International, Guy Debord introduced the term Psychogeography whose definition describes '... the study off the specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals'.[1] ''Pick up the map, go out into the city, and walk the circle, keeping as close as you can to the curve. Record the experience as you go, in whatever medium you favor... Complete the circle, and the record ends. Walking makes for content; footage for footage.''[2]

 Tender mapping, a cartographic genre established by Madeleine de Scudery's map of Tenderness in 1654[3], played an important role in the Situationists' psychogeography. Inspired by a 1948 American detective film called Naked City (directed by Jules Dassin), Guy Debord and Asger Jorn designed in 1957 a subversive map of the same name in order to remap Paris on the basis of 'a mobile architecture of living'. The map of The naked city was brought into being by 19 fragments, cut out from a travel map of Paris, whose montage remakes ''... an urban topography into a social and affective landscape''. Through the fragmentation of Paris and its situationist re-construction, the map forms new relations among the city's parts and their inhabitants and reconfigures them with red directional arrows that link the cut outs. In short, through the map of The naked city, the Situationists attempted a remapping of Paris by considering the relationship between spaces and emotions, and as Guy Debord himself stated ''... spatial development must take into account the emotional effects''(Guy Debord, Report on the Construction of Situations, 1958).

In that sense, Situationists' geography of 'lived situations' consists a tender cartography, very similar to the allegorical tactics featured in de Scudery's map of Tenderness, and as Guiliana Bruno puts it ''... in its exploration of the emotional edge of lived space as an affective traversal of the street, situationist mapping constituted itself as a socio-political psychoanalysis of urban space''.

1. Debord, G. Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography
2. MacFarlane, R. A Road of One's Own. Times Literary Supplement, Octomber 7, 2005
3. Bruno, G. (2002) Atlas of Emotion: journeys in Art, Architecture, and Film. New York: Verso.

No comments:

Post a Comment