dinsdag 5 oktober 2010

Forage Psychogeography

The above image is a classic piece of situationist every-day-life self-cartography. It is a schematic map of Paris with lines drawn between the point of origin (home) and the destination of travels made in a year. I was first published as an illustration to Guy Debord's  'Theory of the Derive' and it means to show how limited our ordinary use of the city is and how little we therefore know of our immediate surroundings; the function of the derive is to break this territorial straight-jacket. Notice that it assumes that the territory is Paris whole, the city and not the countryside, while you could argue that your territory is not a given but the space you need for your everyday needs.   

Below is GPS drawing made by Jeremy Wood of a generative psychogeographical walk in London. The idea being that the algorithm (for example: second left, first right, third left, repeat) will generate a coiling movements from somewhere to neverwhere reaching all points in between.

The current interest in the 'edible city' I find interesting for several reasons but most of all because it is a reinvention or an accidental return/rediscovery of foraging. Our fascination with roads and trails (and desire paths), and with centralized power and accumulation of wealth is a dual neolithic invention: the forager needs to travel the roads less travelled and leave the trail to survey the entire territory with intense awareness; survival depends on it. Foraging, the lifestyle of the forager, demands/creates another way to relate to your environment and your fellow people.     

Listen to Richard B. Lee and Richard Daly (The foreword to the The Cambridge encyclopedia of hunters and gatherers):  

Found among many but not all hunter-gatherers is the notion of the giving: environment, the idea that the land around them is their spiritual home and the source of all good things. This view is the direct antithesis of the Western Judeo-Christian perspective on the natural environment as a "wilderness". 

The foraging lifestyle guarantees a level of freedom and leisure that has been forever lost to those people who succumbed to the caloric revolution of agriculture 10-12.000 year ago. At the heart of the re-evaluation of the hunter and gatherer stands Marshall Sahlin's classic essay 'The original affluent society', surely the only anthropological classic to be regurlaly reprinted as a punk zine. Sahlin makes an interesting case for nomadism itself as a technique for freedom and a mindset for being out there.

Listen to Marshall Sahlin:
The manufacture of tools, clothing, utensils, or ornaments, how- ever easily done, becomes senseless when these begin to be more of a burden than a comfort. Utility falls quickly at the margin of portability. The construction of substantial houses likewise becomes absurd if they must soon be abandoned. Hence the hunter's very ascetic conceptions of material welfare: an interest only in minimal equipment, "if that; a valuation of smaller things over bigger; a disinterest in acquiring two or more of most goods; and the like. Ecological pressure assumes a rare form of concreteness when it has to be shouldered. If the gross product is trimmed down in comparison with other economies, it is not the hunter's productivity that is at fault, but his mobility. 
I would love to see a year's worth of GPS of traces of a GPS-collared nomadic Amazon Indian, but lacking these the following traces of animals make the point clear enough. The first image of the Situationist-map clearly shows a centre, a number of locations in the periphery. The various animal GPS-traces below show a full use of the territory, with the open spaces in the imaginary boundaries of its home range always ignored for a good (geographical) reason. GPS-collars generally aren't recording continuously, but make lan/lon snapshots perhaps every 12 hours, the straight lines therefore should be replaced, in one's mind, with a meandering line, suggesting an ever deeper coverage, use and knowledge of the land.

Location points (blue dots) of Alaska wolf NW025 (April 3 - June 4, 2002) connected in chronological order (red line), and the minimum convex polygon (blue line) of its home range. The cluster of locations at the top center of the home range indicates a den site.

Arctic wolf Brutus’ locations (small circles) since capture on 08 July 2009 to 30 November 2009. Each location is joined to the next consecutive location 12 hours apart with a line, resulting in what we call a “spaghetti” map.
Finland wolves Irina (n=576) and Retu (n=513) locations connected in chronological order,
April - August, 2004.

The movement patterns of collared zebra 6865 during the month of April. Zebra 6865 was collared on the 1st April and for the month of April exhibited a central place foraging strategy, returning regularly to the waterholes near to where she was collared. 

The complete movement patterns for collared zebra 6872 from 3rd April until 27th May within the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. The movement patterns of zebra 6872 show the response to the rainfall of the 2nd and 3rd May followed by its eventual migration west to the Boteti region arriving on the 22nd May.

The collared hyena went on two excursions to the Bakers Bay seal colony, which is more than 60 km away from his western territory boundary. His home range estimate was 1400 km.

The red lines show the movements of nine caribou with GPS satellite locator collars during 2006-2007. These caribou belong to the Kenai Lowland Herd. The summer range is shown by the dense red color on the west side covering the Kenai gas fields, and the Kenai River flats to north of the Kenai airport. The winter range lies generally east of Sterling. The route lines clearly indicate that the caribou avoid roadways and developed areas. 
These are Swedish bear tracks in Sweden the underlying maps is missing to prevent poachers from utilizing the data.

Sea-routes for whales, seals and whatever, but beautiful!
Something completely different, the Apollo 11 traverse map.

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