Making decisions, finding clarity by Karen Alderson


After three months of  groping around in the dark I am clearer about the concept I am exploring. I returned to the map once again after investigating firstly, its creator, by visiting Shipley and secondly, its container and the objects that were attached to it, through drawing and printing.

I created a mind map of words and ideas associated with it the word “map”.



I had been reading some psychogeography articles that had explored the idea of maps as performance.  I thought about the map as a “text” and came up with 6 key words: lost, handled, abandoned, damaged, fragile, redundant.

With regards to performance I imagined the map could have different voices described by each key word. This made me think about how context shapes our subjectivities and how not conforming to these subjectivities could be seem to be disruptive.

For example, a friend of mine went into a clothes shop and lay down on the carpet, the manager asked her if she was Ok and she replied that she was fine. In that instant she had not played the role of consumer and by laying down had created tension and confusion by indirectly questioning others’ behaviour in the space.

This shows the relationship between context and behaviour we don’t normally think about. Which areas would you not feel safe in? Would this change depending on the time of day?

How do we know how to act in certain places? When does this change? How do you know this?

When I thought about the map as a lost object it made me think about “losing your way” or “losing your voice”, forgetting who you are and how to “act yourself”, like a disruption in your identity or personal story. Certainly “madness” or “insanity” is defined by the individual being unable to act in ways that others agree is consensus reality.

But who is determining what is consensus reality?

Psychogeographical tools, e.g flicking a coin to decide which way to walk, aim to break the habits of everyday automatic interactions, e.g taking the same route.

The purpose is to disrupt habits so that we can have a more exploratory approach to the environment. It’s like going to a new place, or when we go on holiday, we are tuned into the new situation & we notice mundane objects with a fascination which, after a while,  we do not see as we become familiar with the environment.

It helps to create new brain pathways and to question our own taken for granted “common sense”assumptions. (Travel broadens the mind)  Try it yourself, eat something different, go somewhere new, change your routine, record your thoughts and feelings.


I sat with these ideas and considered the relationship between a map or information about a place and the embodied experience of being there.

I looked in detail at the map and at the roads that were highlighted for road widening. The initial purpose of this map was to aid the road building programme in the 1920’s as a consequence of the increased use of the motor car. What I intend to do is to walk on the highlighted roads (something in urban environments  that is not encouraged for example, where fast roads do not have pavements, thus forcing people into certain “pedestrianised” areas)  and to collect objects and record my experience of doing this and then juxtapose my recordings and research alongside the map.

The map will have influenced the decision to go to a certain area, how that will continue to influence my experience will be borne out by the walks. This will require several trips as the area is quite large. I intend to record sound and film. I do not intend to make decisions about how I will analyse the results until I have finished.

The road that travels around Bradshaw is one of the places I will walk.

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The walks will take place throughout the summer and hopefully will be complete by the middle of November after which I will edit film and sound recordings.





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