August 1st, 2008 by waynemellinger
This morning Brian Lovato, a Ph.D. student in Political Science at UCSB and I created The Santa Barbara Psychogeographic Society-a group with a web link onFacebook. Our page states:
“This group is dedicated to understanding the psychological effects of carrying out our everyday existence in the city of Santa Barbara. Exploratory activities will be scheduled in the near future.
How does it feel to be on State Street by the mall?
What does it feel like to be by Casa Esperanza and where the homeless congregate?
Why do the ghosts of the Chumash haunt me when I am at the Presidio?
How do the different places in Santa Barbara feel?
What is our lived experiences of these spaces?
Baudrillard said :
On the aromatic hillsides of Santa Barbara, the villas are all like funeral homes. Between the gardenias and the eucalyptus trees, among the profusion of plant genuses and the monotony of the human species, lies the tragedy of the utopian dream realized. In the very heartleand of wealth and liberation, you always hear the same question: “What are you doing after the orgy?” (America p. 30)
By some estimates, this land that you and I walk on today was Chumash land for 40,000 years. During this day of “Fiesta” (1 August 2008), in which Santa Barbara celebrates “Old Spanish Days”, let us pause for a moment to remember the indigenous population of this landscape. Let us never forget the reign of terror which began in the 1780s when Spanish soldiers and priests began to “settle” Santa Barbara.
On April 21, 1782 the Presidio began to be built. It seved as a fortress for the Spanish Army and ran all campaigns that led to gaining permanent control of the land.
On December 4, 1796, the Old Mission began to be built, which created a settlement for the Padres of the Catholic Church. Natives were used as slave labor during the long construction of these buildings.
These two buildings, now two of the most popular tourist attractions in our city, were central to the destruction of a culture, the displacement of a community and the massacre of a population.
While these are remnants of imperialism, we have a severe case of cultural amnesia. We have beautiful artistic festivals beneath the towers of the Mission (the chalk art of I Madonnari), forgetting the blood that was spilled on this ground). Perhaps the beautiful rose gardens across from the Mission lead us to forget the names of the hundreds who died of whiteman’s illnesses on these grounds.
Now Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture is the “official” look of downtown. Even the Paseo Nuevo shopping mall, built in the early 1990s, is made to look like an Old Spanish village–red tile roofs, adobe-like walls, and Roman arches. Ah, such Mediterranean grace, the tourism brochures proclaim.
SFZero: The Santa Barbara Version
We opened a dialogue about creating the Santa Barbara version of SFZero, the urban games played by many across the globe. I am amazed at the exponential growth of the ‘game’ SFZero (or SF0), and liked the idea of seeing that as a potential of the Santa Barebara Psychogeographical Society.
I am (sometimes) sorry that I depend on Wikipedia to learn things, but here is a link to their description of SF0:
Here is the SF0 homepage:
The city of Santa Barbara is our playground, and we can create beauty through our simple actions. The Urban Playground Movement has come to Santa Barbara–let’s start planning our first events.
Twenty years ago Hakim Bey called for ‘Art Sabotage’ and ‘Poetic Terrorism’ in his Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ), a book greatly inspired by the Situationalists.
What creative and resistive activities are we up to? Write with your ideas!
Dérive: Aimless Urban Drift
The concept of dérive comes from the French word for an aimless walk, usually through city streets following a whim. It is often translated as drift.
Sadie Plants wrote: “to dérive was to notice the way in which certain areas, streets, or buildings resonate with states of mind, inclinations, and desires, and to seek out reasons for movement other than those for which an environment was designed. It was very much a matter of using an environment for one’s own ends, seeking not only the marvellous beloved by surrealism but bringing an inverted perspective to bear on the entirety of the spectacular world” (The Most Radical Gesture: THe Situationist International in a Post Modern Age, 1992).
Guy Debord urge his readers to revisit the way they look at urban spaces. We must cease being prisoners of our daily routines treading the same paths every day and instead follow our emotions looking at urban situations in new ways. Cities are designed in ways that ignore their emotional impact on people. Psychogeography demands that we explore our environment without preconceptions and understand our location.
Wayne Martin Mellinger 08-01-08