At the beginning of the workshop, Jessica began with a short introduction to her practice of “psychocartography”, drawing on the pyschogeography of Guy Debord and the Situationist Internationale in 1955, described as a “a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities.” The students were encouraged to think about their personal connections to the city by drawing over maps of Newcastle and Gateshead on to acetate to answer the colour-coded questions:
- Where do they like to go?
- Where do they not like to go?
- Where do they feel safe?
- Which route do they usually take?
- Where do they go to be alone?
- Where do they go to daydream?
- Can they map their route to school?
- Which is their favourite district?
Jessica invited the students to highlight the areas on the maps with the corresponding colours in the way which best represented them. At the end, they were left with their own personal, abstracted maps recording their unique version of the city.
The production of the maps encouraged conversations between the participants of their individual and shared experiences and identities. Their responses revealed circuitous routes to school avoiding areas of perceived pollution from rush hour traffic and ventures into the nightlife of the city, just beyond that which their age legally permits for sixth formers. Even for this age group, ‘Home’ remained a place of safety in which they could get lost in daydreams.
The maps were layered and projected with an over-head projector to create a fractured, disorientating composite version of the familiar.
The students then each reproduced a segment of the map. Taking a dérive (an unplanned journey) around the school grounds, these drawings were installed in forgotten corners and left to decompose over time.