Psychogeography describes a geographical location’s effect on individuals’ emotions and behaviour.
How do different places make us feel and behave?
The Marxist theorist Guy Debord invented the term psychogeography in 1955.
Debord was inspired by the French nineteenth-century poet and writer Charles Baudelaire’s concept of the flaneur [an urban wanderer], suggesting playful and inventive ways of navigating the urban environment to examine its architecture and spaces.
As a founding member of the avant-garde movement Situationist International, an international movement of artists, writers and poets who aimed to break down the barriers between culture and everyday life, Debord wanted a revolutionary approach to architecture that was less functional and more open to exploration.
The reimagining of the city proposed by psychogeography has its roots in dadaism and surrealism, art movements which explored ways of unleashing the subconscious imagination.
Tristam Hillier’s paintings, such as La Route des Alpes 1937, could be described as an early concept example.
In the 1990s, psychogeography gained popularity when artists, writers and filmmakers such as Iain Sinclair and Patrick Keiller began exploring the idea of creating works based on locations by walking.