QUANTUM ALGORITHMIC DRIFT
- Written by Tae Ateh
for this experimental drift i used the "quantum algorhythmn" (spelling of algorithm changed to suggest a more musical and improvised nature of this experiment):
which i wrote in 2002 as a critique of the Algorithmic Psychogeography written by Wilfren HouJebek at socialfiction.org
I thought the introduction of controlled chance into psychogeographical activity, as well as a psychic confluence of machine and mind, a very good development - but when I did an walk with HouJebek in Soho London as part of the "hot summer of psychogeography" I found the walk too prescriptive. This was Houjebek's aim anyway (the algorithm shapes the walk through the walkers breaks with the rules as much as with their following the rules) but I wanted to develop the algorithm formally. the idea of quantum algorhythmn is to introduce algorithms of time as well as space - and also of class.
The original algorithm that sets the turnings locks the drifter into the trajectory of the road - the urban planner / architect's spacial structure - and so locks the worker into a spectacular relation - 1 follows the road until 1 gets to a turning. this i felt needs disrupting so that the line can be broken up into points - not just of space but also of time and class.
however i did not carry out many experiments using this at the time - and only used mental prompts for changing direction or for the input of a variable (0 or 1). these mental prompts were usually hypergraphical - the sight of a letter (in advertising or road signage) or number (eg 101 03 333) for example. at the time (2002) the activities of QCFC overtook those of evoL and so the experiments were put on hold - instead of experimental or pedagogical action we were concentrating on psychic attacks on the city of london corporation)
so when tae ateh and karen karnak suggested the use of algorithmic psychogeography with the added element of chance via a die, i thought it would be a good idea to pick up these experiments. i used a coin instead of a die so i could dummify the variable (see dummy variable) to just 0 or 1.
The problem I see with algorithmic and also to some degree psychogeography generally is not just its privileging space over time but also over class. When drifting through roads and streets, especially in the algorithmic is that we treat a street or road as a discrete special construct as a line instead of points. Therefore only junctions are the points at which decisions are made. The quantum algorithm introduces time ( change direction after x seconds instead of at the xth junction).
It also adds class trimension - either walk straight or walk in a circle. Walking straight puts us into a relationship to other workers (a form of production ie locates us in class) which is fully integrated into the spectacular geometry (linear) of the urban planner. a good example of this is the recent developments in "defensive architecture" designed to disrupt the detournment of public space by reproductive workers (beggars, homeless peoples, skateboarders). Walking in a circle therefore disrupts this and makes us as workers come into potential conflict with other workers, especially those employed in the space to maintain a hegemonic function and use of space by the working class). However we can look at this the other way. When a friend invited me some years ago to walk the dragon line from Hopton she wanted to do so, as much as she could, on the exact trajectory of the mapped line. so we had to go through private space as well as public , eg by climbing through people's gardens, in order to stick to the line as best we could.
*Similarly we could say standing upright is a letter (1)
*and rolling obsessed into a ball ie into a foetus position is the opposite (0)
This 0 position now is the disruption of the class construct of the working class using public space in a way that maintains capitalist spectacular logic - movement between sites of work (pubic or private) and the flattening of real space into abstract lines and points).
In the first drift which started on rock road i took heads to be "walk in a circle" and tails to be "walk in a straight line". i only did this for about half an hour. i then decided to mover to a more open commercial rather than a residential one - mainly because i felt very uneasy here. at one point a woman emerged from her home and looked at me quizzically while i walked in circles outside her front door. the class relation between us - which is bound to the relation in space and time - made me uneasy and i felt it would not be long before the police were called if i continued my experiments much longer in this place.
i moved to what is known as the cambridge leisure park - one of the first of a surge in recent land development in cambridge centred on the railway station. the concrete "park" was built in 2003 on the site of a former cow market. in this drift i changed the input mechanism - heads was for walk in a circle and tails for a straight line - as that seemed to make more sense to me at the time - a round head and a straight tail! interestingly i was asked for money for food by a beggar as soon as the drift started - ie my location in class was defined as a user of the shopping precinct. i also very soon entered space i had never seen before despite having visited this area many many times before. i took mental interaction with other people - seeing someone and psychically being drawn to look at them/psychically "talk" to them - as a prompt for input (flip the coin). Due to my vertigo I started to have problems with walking in a circle and so i changed the variable to
*0= stop and rotate
i found this method good for disrupting the linear and spectacular relation to space. in future i want to experiment in other commercial and urbainsed areas eg shops and shopping centres (crucial to psychogeography) - and introduce a method for physical (and not just psychical) interaction with people met for the first time during a drift. this could take the form of a flyer (the method favoured by evoLPsychogeogrAphix during its pervious experiments ) but i would like to develop other and new ways
The use of flyers introduces meta graphics to create a new psychogeographical relationship in the body of the class. However it still reduces the psychogeography to a specific class function - academia/ art/ science/ politics. The introduction of occult methods and means has of course been a very successful way of revealing the contradictions in the demarcation of class by the bourgeoisie. But it remains import to experiment in new forms of class interaction. An example of where this is needed, being my meeting with a man begging money for food at the start of the drift. Karen Karbala suggestion of the creation of a shrine using graffiti or found objects to mark the end of a drift is a good example of how this can be done although I did not do this.
flyers i hope to work on in the future are
* un-versity of cambridge flyer
* iww unionistaion flyer for reproductive, psychic, destructive and dead workers
karen karnak/ tae ateh