What impact do places have on our emotions? Back in 1955, the Marxist theorist Guy Debord invented the term ‘psychogeography’ to explain this concept and now local photography Sarah Wylie is embracing it in her own creative approach.
'North Edge', Birsay
A graduate in Fine Art from UHI Orkney College, Sarah’s work graces the packaging of our Orkney Rowing Club limited edition release and, among other commissions for Highland Park, she also made a brilliant contribution to our Postcard from Orkney series last summer. The imagery shared here is inspired by Sarah’s exploration of psychogeography inspired by Orkney landscapes.
'Dingieshowe Beach', East Mainland
“Adopting the methodology of psychogeography has introduced a way to create an individual experience within the place I call home. Psychogeography is a combination of psychology and geography that studies the influence of a geographical location on the mind. Identifying psychogeographic theories within my own creative work has allowed me to recontextualise my homeland by bringing attention to the everyday, unusual and overlooked spaces within the Orkney landscape.”
The notion of the ‘urban wanderer’ or ‘flâneur’ was originally suggested by the 19th century French poet Charles Baudelaire, capturing the idea of an individual wandering in an urban (Paris) landscape with the sole purpose of observing life. This inspired Debord and many avante-garde artists and thinkers during the 1950s to pursue connections between the environment on human emotion and, most recently, writers including Peter Ackroyd (London: A Biography), Iain Sinclair (Lights out for the Territory) and Will Self (Psychogeography) have made their own interpretations. While Sarah’s work certainly doesn’t fall into an ‘urban’ category, the ability to ‘wander’ is as key to her today as it was to Baudelaire 150 years ago.
'Fireplace', Hoxa, South Ronaldsay
“Walking is a fundamental process within my creative practice that influences my experience of looking. In this process the camera operates as an extension of my perceptual body. The analogue photography process, from film to final outcome, allows time to reflect on my observations and rediscover my connection to place.
'Viewpoint', South Ronaldsay
"My camera reflects on the silent conversations between an individual and the environment. It is a process of simultaneously identifying the familiar and defamiliarisation. These images, like their locations, operate in a liminal way that creates space for other narratives."