Crab Man and Signpost - The book is designed to help anyone who makes, or would like to make, walk-performances or variations on the guided tour: Examine the cracks in your street and the mould on its walls, note its graffiti, collect its detritus, observe how its pavements are used and abused, etc

Cover of A Sardine Street Box of Tricks by Crab Man and Signpost


Crab Man and Signpost [Phil Smith & Simon Persighetti], A Sardine Street Box of Tricks, Triarchy Press, 2012.

www.mythogeography.com/

A Sardine Street Box of Tricks is a handbook for anyone who wants to make their own 'mis-guided' tour or walk.
Written by 'Crab Man' and 'Signpost' (Phil Smith and Simon Persighetti – both members of Exeter-based Wrights & Sites group), the book is based on the mis-guided 'Tour of Sardine Street' that they created for Queen Street in Exeter during 2011.
The book is designed to help anyone who makes, or would like to make, walk-performances or variations on the guided tour. It describes a range of different approaches and tactics, and illustrates them with examples from their tour of Queen Street. For example:

  • Wear something that sets you apart and gives others permission to approach you: “Excuse me, what are you supposed to be?”
  • Take a can of abject booze from the street or a momentary juxtaposition of a dove and a plastic bag and mould them, through an action, into an idea
  • Attend to the smallest things
  • Examine the cracks in your street and the mould on its walls, note its graffiti, collect its detritus, observe how its pavements are used and abused
  • Set yourself tasks that passers-by will be intrigued by: they will enjoy interrupting and even joining in with you
  • Draw upon ambiguous, ironical or hollowed-out rituals to complement the multiplicity of your walk with intensity of feeling or depth of engagement.
  • And so on…

Picture

CrabMan (Phil Smith), Mythogeography: A guide to walking sideways, Triarchy Press, 2010.

At its simplest, Mythogeography is a way of walking, thinking and visiting a place on many levels at the same time. Anyone can do it. You can do it. Walking becomes a performance, walkers become performers and the route becomes their co-star.
In a city, for example, walkers become aware of their urban home as a site, a forum, a playground and a stage: all there to enjoy, understand and provoke on multiple levels:
  1. Shops, houses, streets
  2. Tourist sites, visitor centres, museums, heritage industry
  3. Visible archaeology and history
  4. Community/social/collective ambitions, hopes, disappointments, failures
  5. Personal memories and recollections
  6. Invisible and forgotten history
  7. Concealed history (crime, disease, squalor)
  8. Childhoods, loves, hates
  9. Myths, legends and rumours
  10. Private dreams, imaginings and fantasies
The levels of the city are reflected back in the many levels of the walker - the public and the private, fact and dream, admissible and inadmissible, forgotten and remembered, past and future.

Mythogeography - The Book - is:
2 parts story
The first section of the book is the gloriously funny and endlessly fascinating account of the author's recent journey on foot across the north of England in the footsteps of a man who made the same journey 100 years ago sowing acorns in the company of a dog called Pontiflunk.
Read a snippet

1 part handbook 
The "handbook of drifting" and the "orrery" later in the book have ideas on walking like a stalker, like a swimmer, like a ghost, like an explorer, like a pilgrim... and that's just the start. Learn about how to organise your own procession, the philosophy of walking, crabs in society, UFOs in Devon, Uri Geller, the political geography of cities, the madness of municipal history and much, much more (as they say).
Read another snippet

As the author puts it:

From the transnational pilgrim to the person who 'drifts off' on the way to the shops, Mythogeography addresses the means, uses and consequences of 'walking sideways', of deploying the ordinary act of walking as a lever to prise the lid off everyday life.

This book is not entirely conventional. It consists of an assemblage of sometimes unreliable, sometimes fractious documents hung around a flawed, yet epic tale of a journey in search of oak trees. It floats numerous narratives around this travelogue, weaving a matrix of possible trajectories for the reader from passive contemplation to wild pilgrimage and activist pedestrianism. The book's second half contains advice, tasks, guidance, kits and mental maps: a toolbag of information and suggestions for the reader who wants to take the next step. Mixing entrepreneurial drive, rambling discourses and post-dramatic performance with soft architecture and post-politics-politics, Mythogeography is a guide to strolling in the cracks in the pavement and a means to walking out on the Spectacle.

Readership


Mythogeography is a book for walkers, artists who use walking in their art, students who are discovering and studying a world of resistant and aesthetic walking, anyone troubled by official guides to anywhere, urbanists, geographers, site-specific performers, town planners and un-planners, urban explorers, entrepreneurs and activists who don’t want to drive to the revolution.



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