Trying to understand

Today’s demonstration was to present the range of ideas we have discussed and wish to include in our final piece so we worked on what we thought we wanted and what our work should be based on.

We worked on the writing with chalk task in Pottersgate (https://flic.kr/p/rxyLQB ) and the ritual with St Anne’s well (https://flic.kr/p/qAzbDY ).

The chalk task consists of the participants thinking of a wish or a good memory that they would like to reflect on and then them actually transferring that into a physical mark on Pottersgate. By making this physical mark, they have, in effect, ‘set it in stone’ on stone as that is what the pavement is made of. The participants will have already been made aware that this will not be a permanent mark and that they will be washing it away however, before they do that, the very act of making the mark is a tangible confirmation of their wish or memory being made permanent albeit fleetingly.

At St Anne’s Well, we wanted to make our own version of the folklore ritual which involves walking round the well 7 times and then placing a finger in one of the holes in the door to find out if that person is going to heaven or hell. We wanted to add some new rules to the ceremony so, as the participants went round the well, they might be asked to ‘place your hands on the roof’, ‘turn around and shout the first thing you see in your surroundings,’ or ‘make a wish on one of the bricks’ for example; this would add our own little twist to the whole procedure.

As these were the only things we could come up with, we were aware that we were not fully connecting and linking together so eventually, as a group, we decided on the idea of giving a misguided tour from Pottersgate to the Cathedral garden whereby we tell real stories of the places as well as sham stories that we have created.

Since I did not properly understand the meaning of a ‘misguided tour’, I searched for it on Google and found some very interesting websites one of which included: http://www.foolsfestival.com/2013/misguided-tours/ .

These ‘misguided tours’ are very popular with the public and obviously great fun as they involve the participants listening to ‘hidden stories’. These can only be described as real stories with a mysterious or magical twist that have been recounted by local people or are similarly made up tales. The idea of doing some ‘hidden stories’ really appealed to me especially if we could find some by asking those  people who are longstanding natives of Lincoln.

I still wanted a clear description of a misguided tour however so I found a good explanation:

“We like to blur the distinctions and play across the boundaries of the real and the fake…They will amuse you with their irrelevant insights and entertain you with their opinions on everything but the hard facts.”

This great quote is from Fuse Performance who base their work on the events or the place they go to such as Belfast, Glastonbury festival etc. http://www.fuseperformance.co.uk/fuse_Performance/Gallery/Pages/Misguided_Tours.html

I continued with my research and came across a fascinating YouTube video of an interesting artist called Willard Morgan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CMUT53tjNY.  He created a character called ‘Gino Gelati’ who, from the YouTube description, is “possibly the world’s worst travel guide.”  His special ability is that he can make the truth merge with obviously fake ideas that just pop into his head and while it is not believable, it is very funny and quite amusing to watch. I researched him further and found his website http://willardmorgan.com/ only to discover that he is a filmmaker, artist, photographer, actor and comedian and is involved in many different materials of the arts such as music and film.

So, the next step is for my group and I to reflect on what I have researched and then consider the idea of searching out some hidden stories told by the public and/or making up our own interesting stories associated with our chosen areas.

My next job is to look at psycho-geography and myth-geography in urban areas.

Misguides and gargoyles

This weeks tasks had me really engaging with the idea of guides; an idea that I unexpectedly enjoyed. One of the tasks that we were given was to create a map, any type of map, but it had to be unconventional. My partner and I wandered around the cathedral, drawing freehand lines in correspondence to where we walked. We were originally going to recreate the shape of the map with objects we found on our walk. However we were then rapidly distracted when we found controversial gargoyles. This then took us onto a completely different track, and we then started to mark down on the map where the controversial and simply out of place gargoyles were on the cathedral. Within his book Mythogeography, Phil Smith stated that ‘after a while certain things may begin to connect and once that starts happening, without obsessively pursuing a story, you can begin, collectively, to ‘compose’ your drift, allowing what has happened so far to determine your next choices’ (Smith, 2010, 199). This slight tangent that we allowed our drift to go on meant that we developed something that truly interested us, something that was inspired purely from the site itself. I particularly like the idea of a misguide around the cathedral, creating elaborate storied about why and how theses particular statues are here. Allowing people to look beyond the typical tourist view of the cathedral, and discover new information about a place they may have thought they knew so well. Below is the map we drew and some photos of the gargoyles we found on our journey.

gargoyle mapsite 9site 11site 7

As well as experiencing this oddly enlightening drift around the cathedral, we also explored the misguide. Despite finding this exercise difficult at first, it turned out extremely fun and interesting, both as ‘performer’ and audience. Although the facts aren’t true, the audience are shown a new and sometimes outrageous perception of a place. For example there were several misguides that took place, all with brilliant ‘stories’. Each one brought a new perception to the area around where St Paul in the Bail church once stood, and ultimately I’ll now see that place in a completely different light.

Smith, P. (2010) Mythogeography: A Guide to Walking Sideways. Devon: Axminster Triarchy Press.

Week 2: Site, representation and perspectives

When originally exploring the site, I took many photos of documentation to reflect what intrigued or inspired me about the uphill surroundings. Having lived in Lincoln for over a year, it would be more than likely that I would carelessly walk through the site without really taking in every aspect of its culture and history. As described by Phil Smith in the chapter: The Handbook of Drifting, he encourages that individuals who partake in Guy Debord’s ‘derive’ (also known as a drift) must look for a theme: textures, the old, the new; looking for meaning in everything. This type of walk described as ‘drifting’ aims to detach us from our comfort zone and take chances on where a walk may take us. One of Smith’s instructions is to ‘get rid of rational-way finding’ to collectively allow ‘what has happened so far to determine your next choice.’ (Smith, 2010, 119). It is almost like being an excited child and letting your instincts guide you, rather than guiding ourselves by what we merely think we would like to see. Thus, Debord developed a concept known as ‘pyschogeography’ – intertwining our conscious everyday critical thinking as a ‘playful encounter with [a site]‘ (Govan et al, 2007, 141).

Continuing from the idea of playfulness, we were set a task to go on a walk and create a map of some sort to record our encounters of the space. Me and Megan decided that we would focus on that of the senses – drawing buildings that we found distinctive, textures that grabbed us and conversations we could hear around us. Here is my mix-matched map of our walk around uphill Lincoln:

Our mix-matched map!

Our mix-matched map!

As you can see, we noted particularly snippets of conversations we heard as passers by, which we found quite comical. Once we had returned from our short explorations in pairs, we came back to St. Paul’s courtyard in Bailgate to create our own misguides and tours of our own. Arlene Sanderson talks about ‘Wrights and Sites’ for those interested in the performed activity of walking. A manifesto was created which depicted how they wanted to generate walking that ‘engages with and changes the city, it recruits the arts not as passive expressions, but as the active changes of it.’ (1991, 70). In this sense, we were given the freedom to create misguided tours around the courtyard. Me and Megan decided to act upon the idea of playfulness and decided to view the courtyard as if from a child’s perspective. The benches near the well were the safety zone, whilst the shape formed on the floor further away from the well was the deep dark depths of the underworld. Other groups took us on various tours and some of these intriguing misguides are shown on my flickr photo stream, which you can view through the link at the beginning of my blog post.

 

Works Cited:

Smith, P. (2010) Mythogeography: A guide to walking sideways. London: Axminster Triarchy Press.

Govan, E., Nicholson, H., and Normington, K. (2007) Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices. New York: Routledge.

Sanderson, A. (1991) A Manifesto for a New Walking Culture: ‘Dealing with the City’. In: Wrights and sites. United States: Washington Preservation Press.

Gargoyles and Mythogeograhpy

Today, on our walk to draw a map we came across a very interesting and odd gargoyle on the cathedral. Like many Lincoln residents we have all seen the Cathedral probably hundreds of times, yet never noticed the interesting additions its stonework has to offer. This gave us the idea of doing a walking tour around the cathedral of the non conventional areas of attraction. By studying the Cathedral you notice there are more unconventional gargoyles are than you first imagine, even in the surrounding walls which we can presume to be religious symbolism. Even on the front on the cathedral there are images suggesting the devil or sinning as a deterrent to turn away from God to the onlookers of the Cathedral. The idea of doing a misguide, or maybe even just an audio walk I think would encourage people to look past the ordinary which is why we chose the cathedral, looking at the non-obvious aspects of a typical tourist attraction. Our idea was to emphasise the more ordinary or darker bits to the cathedral either based on fact or fiction.This idea is also spoken about in Making a performance: Devising Histories and contemporary practises chapter ten Between Routes and Roots: “The emphasis on localism in community theatre has done much to challenge the idea that there was one official history.”  (Govan et al, 2007,138) The idea which springs from here is to challenge the facts that people cling to and perhaps change them completely or maybe even just slightly.

Changing facts completely is something that never occurred to me to do in sites so rich in history such as the Lincoln Cathedral. However, some of the suggestions from Tim Etchells ‘a text on..’ opened my eyes to the possibilities. Today we were asked to write something from the list we had heard and I chose ‘a text of obvious lies’ and due to the location where we were writing – I chose the Cathedral:

One day the people of Lincoln awoke to a very dark morning in the middle of summer.

Confused, they stepped out of their houses to see a huge building towering over Lincoln blocking out the morning sunlight.

The once empty field of grass on the top of the hill now housed a large Cathedral which seemed to have appeared overnight with no trace of where it could have come from.

Although clearly a lie and slightly ridiculous this instruction did lead me to think of possibilities once you step away from sheer facts and eventually inspired me to think of an audio walk with either slight shifts from the truth, or an emphasis on the less obvious attractions from a tourist place.

Making our own walk:

Although this was very challenging at first ideas soon became much clearer once we had decided our first destination for our walk. This then led us to view things differently that we had originally seen them before. For instance we stumbled across a wall and the only thing obviously different about it was the different bricks in one particular area, this however led us to develop an elaborate story as to why the bricks were different and soon devising a walk came quite easy.

Govan, E. Nicholson, H. Normington, K. (2007) Making a performance: Devising Histories and contemporary practises. Oxon: Routledge.