Corridor8 #1 Launch / Iain Sinclair

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On Thursday 16 July, Corridor8 launched with an exclusive talk with Iain Sinclair. The talk, at Urbis in Manchester, was blogged live by the award winning writer, Andrew Shanahan:

18.15 - Ok, let’s start. There’s some hubbub. Guests arriving. A large table full of bread. Wine. The stage is set for a party, or transubstantiation. Actually, hubbub is a bit of a misnomer. It’s more of a susurrus at the moment but I’ll be sure to update you when we hit hubbub.

I’m here to liveblog the talk of psychogeographer Iain Sinclair which is being given as part of the launch festivities for Corridor8. For those who are late to the party, here’s some info about Corridor8 lifted directly from the press release:

Corridor8 is a publication that has intellectual depth, providing new and unexpected insight into international cultural issues. It is not fashion or event-led and its in-depth editorial approach walks the line between academia and popular journalism. It publishes readable, engaging and enjoyable features that allow a detailed analysis of some of today’s most interesting creative practitioners.

I’ve only just got a copy so any review I give you will have to be a knee-jerk one. It’s big. Really big. Impressively big. It also has a rather delicious looking pastry on the front cover, which might just explain the table of bread. It’s all coming together. I’m going to photograph the bread.

bread on display

18.34 Just learned something interesting about the bread. I’ll tell all later but if I don’t someone remind me. It’s just occured to me that I should point out that any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors are to be expected and thus forgiven – I am after all writing live. I’ve never had to cope with the pressure of being on display before. Frankly, writing whilst wearing something other than pyjamas is a seismic shift.

So, psychogeography then. What is it? I wasn’t entirely sure (although I’d read some of Will Self’s thoughts on the subject – although clearly not very closely) so I googled it. Here, let me save you a few precious seconds. Here’s the Wikipedia entry on psychogeography and an in-depth video discussion of psychogeography from the Philoctetes Centre. If you’ve digested those, as I have, then you’re probably now where I was at the start of this paragraph and beginning to wonder what psychogeography is. Fortunately, my job isn’t to tell you that. It’s to listen to Iain and tell you what he says. Let’s learn together…

18.49 We’re officially at hubbub. Brace yourselves.

18.50 Bit more background. For the opening issue of Corridor8 Sinclair has been commissioned to take a walk around Manchester, presumably to give the psychogeographer’s point of view of the city. Press release again:

This issue’s literary feature is by Iain Sinclair. Commissioned especially by Corridor8, the writer and psychogeographic journeys through the ‘SuperCity’, reporting back about what he finds. He is accompanied on one of these forays by filmmaker Chris Petit, who keeps a photographic record of what becomes, at times, a Fear and Loathing-style odyssey. On another journey he and wife Anna – both have recently reached their seniority – travel the entire Liverpool-Hull route by bus pass, stopping over in Manchester and visiting Freeport. The findings of both journeys are unexpected to reader and author alike, and have resulted in Sinclair basing a major new book in the region.

The last sentence there is the intriguing one. Previously, I think I’m right (correct me if I’m not) that all of Sinclair’s books have been based in London, so something suitably impressive must have happened as he walked the streets of Manchester. We’ll see, eh?

By the way, the audience tonight is dauntingly attractive. Is it an Urbis thing? Or is it Sinclair fans? I need to know.

19.00 – Attractive audience coming in strong now. So this is what it feels like to be bum-rushed by the beautiful people. By the way, this is the podcast of Sinclair’s walk if you’d like to take a listen yourself. There’s also a map of the route he took along with some background. Lollygaggers are being rounded up and we’re beginning.

audience

The audience.

19.10 Minor microphone snafu, attractive audience resumed susurrating.

19.11 We’re back. Housekeeping. What to do in an evacuation. Toilets. Seriously, you don’t need this stuff but it’s good that I’ve got a note.

19.13 - First Issue of Corridor8 looks at architecture, art, writing  across the trans-pennine region. Warm cheers for editorial team of Michael Butterworth (publisher), Jo McGonigal (Creative Editor), Roger McKinley (Editor), Laura Mansfield (Assistant Editor). The theme for the first issue is the Supercity, hence why Iain has been wandering around various parts of it.

19.15 - Ha! The breads are art! All of those hungry, attractive audience members you’ve been eating – ART!

19.19 - Sinclair: Pleased to be taken out of his own territory and praising the ferocious engagement of Manchester reading public. Unsurprisingly, goes down well with the Mcr crowd.

19.22 – Dedicating the talk to J.G. Ballard, mentioned heavily in Michael Butterworth’s editorial introduction to Corridor8. Ballard was “a man of the car and writers fall into two categories – pods or peds”. I drove here tonight.

Sinclair introducing the talk by saying about how his walks in London and its nascent Olympic environment relates to post-Commonwealth Games Manchester – through shared icons such as the London Eye and the Manchester wheel – but ultimately you only have to spend a day in Manchester to see that they’re such culturally different places.

19.33 – There’s a wonderful slideshow running behind Sinclair showing quite prosaic images of his and his wife’s travels. Leaning against the sign for Lancashire Cricket  Club and a “House of Fires” advert, Man Utd fans on a flag-waving pilgramage to Old Trafford, takeaways, a road that looks weirdly (really weirdly) like my old road.

I’m going to go out on a limb – so far it seems like psychogeography is a sort of hyper-linked walk. A standard walk that’s taken with a backpack stuffed with historic, economic, cultural perspectives, so the walk becomes something more complex. I can almost guarantee that’s going to come back and make me look dumb, but thus far that’s my take on it. I’ll probably edit that statement later and make myself look really smart.

19.42 – Two great quotations I’ve just jotted down whilst trying to think and type and process a photo (unsuccesfully):

“as is often the case myth is truer than real documentation”

“[humans] are becoming these strange recording instruments” (just to prove his point)

sinclair bird

19.50 – Interesting point about walking to Old Trafford and how difficult it is. Something which many football fans will agree with I should imagine.

1954 – Given that the notion of psychogeography, as presented through Sinclair’s talk so far, seems to rely deeply on linking from one topic to the next (that and an unbroken chain of coincidence) I thought I’d link to some of the talk’s themes. I’ve missed some out and Sinclair has effortlessly segued between, whilst narrating his talk but this seems to be a fitting conclusion to my attempt to liveblog the event:

- Ballard

- Funfair wheels

- Sebald

- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

- Berlin Wall

- Dublin

- New Islington

- Ballard

Q and A – some notes

Liverpool fan mentions the difficulty of walking to Old Trafford! Told you.

Have you ever been to the Trafford Centre, there’s a hiking group that goes around the TC (blimey, there is)? He’s not, he’s hoping to go there though.

Sinclair was arrested for taking photos of an Ikea.

Final question – How would you define psychogeography – impossible to type this up, so I’m going to link you to the video coverage of the event so you can see him define it for yourself (the tapping noise in the background of the film is me writing this! Shut up me!)