The Enlightening, Mystical, Tranformative Mobile Sanitorium, of which has become the name of our project, is a tour of Wollongong in relation to that of Pyschogeography.
Psychogeography draws upon the Situationists’ theories and particularly those of Guy Debord. The beauty of Psychogeography is that it doesn’t have a 1000 page instruction booklet – many situationists claimed to be against ideology, so they were hardly specific about anything in particular. Psychogeography is defined by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals”.
Following this definition of the concept, Psychogeography would look something like drifting around the environment – sometimes aimlessly, sometimes purposefully and always playfully, imbibing the fundamental laws, relationships and culture and then analysing, studying and thinking about these.
In our project we would act as informative tour guides that take participants to key locations that have undergone transformation by humans:
- Tom Thumb’s Lagoon that has been transformed as an environment in several ways to be more amenable to human settlement.
- The deconsecrated catholic cemetery that has been transformed into a beer garden outside the entertainment centre.
Our aim would be to provide participants with an alternate view of the human motivation for transformation of their immediate environment and at the very least, upset pre-existing sensibilities. We would use a model of tourism from a previous age that has difficulty being reconciled with current models of tourism and current ideas of environmental preservation, that can lead to hatred of human civilisation – 19th century tourism.
19th century tourists were known for their quest for the exotic, the healing powers of nature and also their graffiti and souveniring. For instance, at the Jenolan cave, tourists would take a stalactite home and sign their name on a 100 million year old limestone formation. We will feature a graffiti session in our tour that confusingly reconciles the idea of the foreign and unnatural nature of human graffiti with pre-existing ideas of the Natural.
We will use a bioactive paint formula that encourages white lichen to grow as an alternative to white paint. This was a well-known technique in 19th century times and examples from this period of lichen graffiti are as clear today as the day they were made. We would also have a refreshment session that will be exclusively alcoholic beverages. Sailors and bushwalkers were famous for maintaining the integrity of potable water stores during long trips by preserving water with alcohol content. This seems bizarre, but cider was long considered a very refreshing beverage. This also pays homage to the Situationists who were famously drunk.
Through our topographical research, our reconnaissance expeditions through the Wollongong CBD and surrounding areas, and our studies into the formulating of bioactive paint, we will devise a tour that will reflect that of the Situationists’ Pyschogeographical theories and values and create a relationship between the intersections of modern-day Wollongong and olden-day Wollongong.