Psychogeography and natural decay

Rhys Mukesh and Kieren on a psychogeographical walk psychogeography: urban murals being devoured by nature

A small group of IOCT Masters students take my Creative Writing and New Media module. Some weeks they work together with my online CWNM students and sometimes we work together in the IOCT. This week we left the plastic and metal of the lab behind and took a psychogeographical walk through the Leicester streets nearby.  Left to right: Rhys, Mukesh, Kieren.

By paying close attention to the streets we pass through every day, we found some intriguing artefacts to interpret, the first of which was a long grey wig crumpled at the base of a fence. What's the story behind that? And this mural, clearly part of some once-proud urban regeneration scheme but now rapidly being consumed by nature. I found it depressing, but Rhys rightly pointed out that it was a natural phase in the ecology of anything human-made, and reminded us that it is an ironic parody of the Roman murals which have been uncovered in various parts of Leicester and which are of course treasured and protected. Which reminded me in turn of how when the Romans left their colonised lands and went home, the locals were afraid of their technologies and refused to enter the abandoned villas. Instead of maintaining them in good repair, they either abandoned them or dismantled them for the bricks and other materials to build their own inferior dwellings. Today, we scrape away the plants and soil to uncover Roman villas and towns, whilst at the end of our street more recent efforts quietly return to the earth.

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