Future reflections

Kept my promise and swam in the vaguely post-apocalyptic landscape that is Sørenga; with a view of shipping containers, construction cranes, cruise ships, graffiti-lined railway tracks, 18-wheeler trucks, children collecting purple starfish, and the silhouttes of islands amongst hundreds of sparkling crests on the gently rippling Oslo fjord. Surreal.

Currently nursing a little sunburn and humming along to this tune by MGMT.

Reflections and refractions

What happens after death to all of your dreams, your secret thoughts and special moments, the impressions and memories you never thought to share?

Perhaps a few might pass on genetically through some fortuitous pairing of proteins. Others wordlessly through meaningful glances and touches. Maybe some persist in the decisions and choices of those who knew and loved you.

The rest I imagine scattered; exploding into millions of particles and waves, living on in bits of sunshine and leaves that sound like water when the wind blows.

Happy birthday, Dad. I will swim in the sea, avoid jellyfish, and think of you. I hope that a few of the reflections and refractions on the water at 59.9500° N and 10.7500° E once belonged to you.

Photograph taken circa 1975 at Allen Island in Georgian Bay, home to an archipelago of 30,000 islands of exposed Canadian Shield in Lake Huron.


I cannot quite figure out if this is a bit of activism (originally intended for the previous advertisement)  or if this was done ironically. In any case, I laughed out loud while walking home alone the other evening. Even the Minions are subjected to unrealistic beauty ideals and Photoshop.

Text translates to “Retouched” in the first image and “This advertisement is retouched” in the second. Photographs taken recently, walking the West side of Oslo(2015).

Keep feelin’ procrastination

I am endeavoring to get my first paper ready to submit to a journal and have found very many new (and mostly productive) ways of procrastination, including but not limited to: redesigning my website, making new psychogeographic maps using MapBox, and trying to learn how to write scripts with Python. Learning a new programming language is not what I should be doing. But if anyone has any tips on doing a batch conversion of *.gpx to *.shp files, do let me know.

And I probably should not be watching  videos by The Human League in my office either. But, in my defense, this one starts and ends with a map. Very geographical, right?

Through the city

‘Läbi Linna’ — Estonian for ‘Through the City’ — is a little book that I found in a used book shop in Tallinn for just a few euro. Published in 1967, it includes artistic street photography from around the city. I was drawn to the black and white photography but rather than write too much about it here, I thought I would instead include a few photographs of the book and an excerpt from the inside of the book jacket.

“Can one love stone, an unhewn block of granite, or an ordinary boulder that is unwieldy, and rough? In the hands of a sculptor the block of granite turns into a graceful figure. A builder fits the same block into the corner of a new house. The artist sees beauty in the granite, and the mason makes a dwelling out of it. Our forefathers use to live in a cave in the rock, and we, town-dwellers of the 20th century, live among stones as well. Maybe this is the reason why we can no longer recall well enough the beauty of the countryside, of a field or forest.

But the town built of stone does not lack beauty either. Only you have to make friends with the town, you have to learn all about it. Not in the way you know a chance acquaintance, but in the way you know a real friend. You must go into its peculiarities, follow its ways persistently and patiently, early in the morning and late at night. The town is interesting because it has a different face at each time of the day.

Have you been about the town when the last merry-makers have got home, the lovers taken leave of one another and those who rush to work early in the morning are still asleep? Have you felt the tranquility and mystery of that hour? Have you been about the streets when it is raining cats and dogs, or when big snowflakes dance in the air and you seem to walk in a fairy-tale world? What does a lonely passer-by think, whom you encounter at that hour? Have you walked in the streets in the scorching mid-day sun, have you taken a good look at the people and their doings? Have you followed the changing shapes of the houses lit by the rays of the setting sun?

All these details, and many more, make up the face of a town. Without knowing them you will never learn about the town in a real way.” (Kirjastus “Eesti Raamat”, Tallinn 1967)


My second summer in Norway and I still cannot quite get used to this whole ‘not getting dark’ thing.

But this video of Tina Turner and David Bowie performing ‘Tonight’ is just fantastic.

Klem fra Bjørg

Adjacent to the remnants of a poster, I stumbled upon a little bit of Czech art nouveau this morning on the way to the tram. A small reproduction of a print by Alphonse Mucha.  Curious, I examined a little more closely only to find a sweet little message from Bjørg congratulating Maria, who after several years of hard work has apparently passed her singing exam at Foss.

Photographs taken in Bislett, Oslo (2015).

Coincidentally, I was just listening to Maria by Blondie earlier.

Contre l’education de classe

With support from a generous grant from the Norwegian Researcher School in Geography, I have been very fortunate to have spent the past week in Estonia for the 6th Nordic Geographers’ Meeting. These types of events bring all sorts of new inspiration and ideas, sometimes a little validation, and the joys of making new friends from the Nordic countries and beyond. All with the added bonus of being surrounded by strange and lovely creatures called geographers!

I gave a talk on some my findings from a pilot study I conducted in Montréal prior to beginning my doctoral studies in Oslo. Between 2011 and 2013, I (psychogeographically) walked over 600 kilometres and took more than 15,000 photographs. The Québec student uprising — also known as the ‘printemps érable or ‘maple spring’ — just so happened to take place during this time in the spring of 2012. During the height of the ‘maple spring’, over half of the post-secondary student population were on strike, marching daily and nightly in response to the Québec government’s proposal to raise university tuition by 300% over 5 years.  Speaking in a session on youth and arts activism, I shared some of the photographs from my fieldwork and disccussed how students used graffiti and street art as a means to mobilise and further their political cause. I suggest that when citizens become disenfranchised, the streets become an important place for political thought.

A show of solidarity from the inside out, Montréal (2012).
‘La jeunesse contre la hausse’ (‘Youth against the hike’), Montréal (2012).
Red square as a symbol of the uprising, Montréal (2012).
Hand-printed political poster reminiscent of Paris 68. The body of the bird is in the shape of the province of Québec and the text ‘état sauvage’ translates roughly as ‘wild state’, Montréal (2012).
Queen Victoria silenced outside of McGill University with red tape, Montréal (2012).
 Political poster by the student group CLASSE, Montréal (2012).
 Protest on 22 May 2012, marking 100 consecutive days of protest and dubbed by organisers as the ‘largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history’, Montréal (2012).
‘Le quartier des spectacles’ (‘Entertainment Quarter’) becomes ‘Le quartier de la grève’ (‘Strike Quarter’), Montréal (2012).

Time to cook meth

Berlin, where I recently was for a departmental seminar,  was visually overwhelming, slightly overstimulating, and absolutely wonderful. I actually refrained from taking too many photographs as I am trying to establish something they call, um, “work-life balance”. It is not always easy when your field is the city, your methods are visual, and you always have a camera on hand. So, despite trying not to work, I managed to sneak a few photographs, mostly around Kreuzberg where I stayed with a friend or a couple days prior to our staff seminar. Here are a few shots from here and there.

Alexanderplatz, Mitte, Berlin (2015)
‘Time to cook meth’, Kreuzberg, Berlin (2015)
‘Yuppies raus aus Krzberg’ / ‘Yuppies out of Krzberg’, Kreuzberg, Berlin (2015)
‘Fisch-feinkost’ / ‘Fish-delicatessen’, Kreuzberg, Berlin (2015)
‘Militant gegen gentrifizierung’ / ‘Militantly against gentrification’, Kreuzberg, Berlin (2015)
1UP crew, Mitte, Berlin (2015)
Fuck da police!, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin (2015)
‘Lust stories fuck’ (piece by artist TMNK from NYC), Mitte, Berlin (2015)
Made in GDR, Prenzlaeur Berg, Berlin (2015)