Reflection: Psychogeography

During my previous module, Documentary 2, the general consensus was to dispense with the notion of an 'objective' discourse and to focus on a more holistic method of analysis. Not only would the artist influence the outcome, but also the circumstances and conditions (such as budget, time, restriction, etc.) around the body of work. This is where I would regard photography to be more aligned with design than art. Psychogeography is something I have used in my practice professionally and academically. During Documentary 2 I utilised being in Japan to reference the Provoke aesthetic for one assignment. While in Malaysia (a predominantly muslim country), I participated in Ramadan and documented the experience. In terms of both conception and execution psychogeography played a major role.


Artistically I see two divergences of psychogeography; having a predetermined concept that is applied in various places, and a casual collection of spontaneous moments. The predetermined concept is something that the photographer is looking to achieve. In BoW this seems a more considered way to progress as the evolving idea can be articulated. Spontaneous musings will carry a strong personal voice, but the narrative will be much more retrospective such as in the work of Ho Fan and Vivian Maier. I don't see how this suits academia beyond research as this way of working is much more introverted and not something that is well communicated. Many people aspire to being a flâneur as a liberating way to live, but it is not a feasible approach to measured outcomes, smart goals and can be easily misinterpreted.

Fig. 1.  Ligurian Sea, Saviore  (1982)

Fig. 1. Ligurian Sea, Saviore (1982)

I refer to Hiroshi Sugimoto a lot, not because of any aspiration to his work per say, but the two things I appreciate are; having an engagement in a contrasting culture to his own, and the diversity of projects with a similar overriding theme. In the case of his Seascapes series (see fig. 1.), I enjoy the simplicity of the concept which can be applied to any coastal location at any time. Sugimoto has played with the basic framework over the years, which has added to the longevity of the idea. Some of the explorations Sugimoto has looked at is the time of day, the duration of exposure, optical focus, over/under-exposed. In the case of a particular scene we cannot say that it is (or is not) an accurate depiction because a seascape is in a constant state of transition. The accumulated retrospective here is how variant a singular way of seeing can be, even within a limited framework.


For my own practice I relate to this approach, whether it is as simple as photographing street art for pleasure or a more premeditated intention; the subject, visual strategy is usually considered, leaving some room for chance but more convergent in thinking. It is something I have been reflecting on in regards to A1. Through my smartphone, my impulsive 'notations' are a result of conceptual psychogeography. It may well be that this formulates further into my BoW. I have taken the basic idea of responding to shadow patterns from natural light in the public space, this time setting up a time-orientated experiment to observe the evolution of shadow patterns in a fixed location at home. This was a much more meditative experience for me. And the key will be to distill the idea into its purest but concise state.

I will write up further thoughts on conceptual photography in my next post together with how this is evolving my idea for BoW.


Sugimoto, H (no date) Available at: (Accessed on 03.09.18).

Sugimoto, Hiroshi (2015) Seascapes. Bologna: Damiani.

List of illustrations

Figure 1. Sugimoto, H (1982) Ligurian Sea, Saviore [Photograph] At: (Accessed on 03.09.18)