My thanks to everyone who has visited The Devil’s Plantation so far, especially those who took the time to comment. I’m heartened by your positive response. The website is live and visitors now have the choice of visiting this blog or the main site. With any luck my efforts won’t dissuade anybody googling ghosts on the M8 motorway or dogging at Carron although they might be disappointed – or downright perplexed – to land on my tiny patch of cyberspace. Not that I should presume anything about who arrives here because the joy of the online experience is often found in random corners and the places chanced upon. Besides, surely the desire to get jiggy in a remote car park is not incompatible with lesser exploratory urges.
After the effort of getting the site up and running, I went into a physical and psychic tailspin and would have buried myself under a duvet but for domestic disruption involving draughty windows and no heating. Having assured the Scottish Arts Council that the project’s complete, I’m struggling with the idea of telling the rest of the world about it, self-promotion being the name of the game when it comes to creative endeavour, especially when the effort is government-funded.
Trouble is, I’m not adept at the art of marketing. I’m also hesitant because the work defies easy categorisation – it’s not a film, a game or a storybook, yet it refers to all three forms. Also, I’ve had to struggle with a dichotomy – while the work’s meant to be about Glasgow’s Secret Geometry, part of me would prefer to keep the whole thing secret, or at least allow people to find it by accident. Recently I came across the first external review of the work, written by Ed Smart on his excellent PsyGeo Blog who offers this assessment –
I should add that Ed’s comments are not entirely hyperbolic in their praise (ie. I also get a light roasting in parts). Still, it’s pleasing to know that his critique identifies my long-cherished aim for the piece. As stated elsewhere on this blog, psychogeography is a little-reported practice outside of London and in spite of a healthy interest in urban (and rural) exploration in other parts of the country, there’s a conspicuous lack of commentary on us provincial fuguers. I feel fortunate in having Harry Bell’s text as my original inspiration for a study of Glasgow, a city that continues to be misunderstood by a metropolitan media psychically incapable of shaking off the city’s dark mythology, persistent in their fetishising of the Glesga hard man, that’s assuming they pass any comment at all.
My take on this state of affairs is simple. More than most UK cities, Glasgow shape-shifts at such an indecently rapid pace it seems the only way to keep tabs on it is by ruthless observation and by gathering evidence. In the two-plus years on this project, the material changes taking place in the city have been astonishing. A year or so ago, at 2.30 am one dreich Sunday morning, alongside several hundred onlookers I witnessed two Sighthill tower blocks vanish in the space of five seconds, a vision that prompted tears. On another, recent occasion I stood on a patch of waste ground off Eglinton Road talking to two men conducting soil analysis only to watch a motorway appear on the same spot a few months later, some giant steel-and-concrete serpent conjured from the earth itself, reinforced by the debris of past dwellings.
This constant cycle, of demolition and reconstruction, would never be allowed in the likes of Edinburgh or Bath. Endemic poverty coupled with a venal administration sealed this city’s fate a long time ago. In a matter of years Glasgow’s profile will alter again with the impending mass blowdowns of high-rises across the city, according to the scheduled list on the GHA website. What will replace them, I wonder? And who will live in them? And who will remember what went before?