Go for a walk.
But do it by this fun, quirky, experience-provoking recipe.
Often-game designer Jackson Tegu says he also creates “experiences”, which could sound smart-ass, but just seems smart given what I know about certain conversations (and Jackson).
“But it’s not really a role-playing game, is it?”
It wasn’t really meant to be, but I’m flattered you should draw the comparison.
(Jackson probably wouldn’t go “ha!”, he’s much too friendly and courteous).
So, this new thing (experience) plays on some strings I’m sloppily and randomly acquainted with over several years. At its core, it’s an elegant new (I believe) take on “psychogeography”.
I won’t bother to research it all right now, because I’m tired after a long and personal telephone conversation. But my associations to the word are:
* something the situationists were into in the 60s.
* something about how you experience cities and other places.
* something Alan Moore writes about in the back of From Hell.
* something that reminds of that one exercise, the “magical mindset”, Grant Morrison wrote about in the Pop! Magic essay on his homepage years ago, where you go around interpreting everything you see as having great personal significance, which in turn reminds me a lot of my own experience with psychosis.
Somewhere in that landscape, we find these recipes Jackson has devised.
Let’s look at one I tried out today:
Await Further Instructions
1. Go in the least familiar direction until your breathing changes.
2. Wait for the new sound rising, & go towards where you heard it come from.
3. Go only as far as you could see when you first heard the sound, & wait there.
4. Someone who catches your eye will appear, go to where they caught your eye & wait.
5. Pick up the least dirty thing you can find.
6. Await further instructions.
1. I started off near Stortorvet in Oslo, a place I’m intimately familiar with. I thought it would be hard to figure out where I was supposed to go, but my eyes soon landed on a small bystreet I rarely use. My breathing changed when I coughed.
2. I heard a bird, sounding kind of tormented. This was near the High Court and the governmental building the terrorist tried to blow up. The area is still scarred, 5 years on.
3. The poor bird seemed to be chirping from one of the nearby facades. I paused.
4. At first I thought it might be the young woman with the colorful backpack, but it turned out it was a man with a bicycle helmet, further down the street. I went where he used to stand.
5. I found something that probably belongs to a bicycle tire, in front of a door with a security camera and lots of wires.
6. I just had to look up. A long cobweb, trailing in the wind. Giving me new instruction.
I also tried one called “Yesterday’s Remains” (see photo), but I think you caught the gist of it.
The Follow PDF also has a meandering, but brief and thoughtful, essay on the thinking behind these recipes, and gentle guidance on how to get into the groove.
It’s free for download here, where you can also explore other experiences, games and texts, and consider if these are projects you’d like to make a monthly donation to support.
I think Follow could easily work in the form of postcards left at hip cafés, a gamified app/webpage, a cryptic QR-code stuck to a toilet wall. I’m glad it’s this clunky PDF that I printed out at work. Feels real.
So what is it like, experiencing?
Like going for a walk.
Like being a poem.