It is impossible to tell whether the Psychogeographical tourism project was a success. The Proletariat have not yet inevitably overthrown the bourgeois and established the utopian order, the bourgeois continue to reign supreme and Alienation continues to terrorise everybody! Fortunately our aims, although derived from the works of the Situationist movement were far more meagre.
To begin with, an overview of the events as they took place:
- We walked to a small knoll on the golf course that overlooks the old lagoon. From this position, the fact that the area was once a lagoon is strikingly obvious, whereas from the road you would never be aware.
- Everybody was given a showbag. This was a standard shopping bag with no effort to influence or reinforce preconceived aesthetic notions. Inside the bag there was a paintbrush for graffiti, a business card with the name of the activity and a map. The map was a combination of an old map from when the lagoon existed and a current map with a golf course, extended harbour and oval instead.
- An informative talk was delivered overlooking the ex-lagoon covering the reasons why urban areas and lagoons do not coexist peacefully along with some general changes that have occurred across Australia during Aboriginal settlement in the past 11000 years.
- We walked to the graffiti location for refreshments (whisky and wine) and of course graffiti. It was suggested that perhaps something be mentioned about Tom Thumb’s lagoon, but people did whatever they wanted – invented slogans,names, Chinese script, cartoon penises, wildly distributed blobs and much more.
- We continued to the graveyard and Dom delivered the information – a mix of fact and fiction. A 19th century style occult element was included in the form of ghost stories (which were made up the day before). It was mentioned that the area was once consecrated ground and had been transformed into a popular beer garden. People expressed the desire to roam and that they did!
unfortunately I believe our major downfall tour was the one variable we could not control, the weather. The wind and rain made it not only difficult to communicate with the participants, but made them restless and unfortunately would have washed away a majority of our bioactive paint. However this did have an unintended consequence that could have been seen as a benefit. At the second stop on the outskirts of the tomb thumb’s lagoon we served whisky and wine. This probably had on of the biggest effect on our audience. They were instantly comforted and become more engaged in the tour. This encouraged them to absorb the information and reflect on the stories.
However there was room for improvement within the story telling. Diego had extensive knowledge, gathered over a lifetime. This allowed him to tell truly engaging and informative stories. As he claimed he was a story teller. I believe that by gaining more first hand knowledge of the sites may have allowed for more in depth and engaging stories to be told. Which would both entertain and inform the audience. I felt this in the delivery of my piece. It was based on general local knowledge I have gained over the past 15 or so years of living in the area. However this was not enough I felt I needed to go in to more depth, gaining more knowledge from more sources. The ease in which I told stories was a true reflection on the knowledge I held of the subject, for example to mount Kembla mine disaster, which I have previously researched out of pure curiosity.
The areas we chose for tourism were chosen for recent transformation and the immediate questions that come out of this transformation. Local knowledge was key to determine sites that would engage and audience. Knowledge of the make up of the land geologically and historically, this allowed us to select site that would not only tell a story but additionally demonstrate a point of view. In the case of the Lagoon: are humans making war on the natural environment and attempting to supplant nature with humanity?
During the graffiti session: are human manufactures “natural” and is human creativity “natural”? Can nature deface human constructs?
In the graveyard/beer garden: If some human creations or cultural practices are considered to be “natural” or sacred, how can this be determined when two cultural practices or creations are in competition? Is irreverence towards the sacred an important feature of human discourse when it comes to defining the sacred and the natural (e.g. burning cars!)?
These were the questions we wanted to tackle, but there is very little that can be done to gauge the success. If our aims were very grand then I would be disappointed that we are not living in a utopia. There was no great spectacle which according to Debord may have helped us avoid on kind of Alienation. Our aim was simply to have a quiet word about big things from a slightly unusual perspective – and we achieved this very simple objective.