A Psychogeographic Map of Hong Kong
“Eleventh grade began abruptly with the general absence of my parents and sibling, whom I had lived with for sixteen years. For the first time, I discovered immense loneliness in the apartment which had been my study place since elementary school. I found myself unable to be productive, despite the accelerating workload. In an urgent attempt to find an alternate revision space, I immersed myself in more than fifteen potential new study environments for the next twelve months and analyzed their impact on my work.
On a typical afternoon, I would arrive at a new destination, study until concentration was lost, and then record the duration of productivity. Coffee shops, libraries, churches, parks, the subway, and the airport were a few of the destinations. Since the environment was the only changing variable, I took careful notice of it: the size of the desks (if present), the height of the ceilings, the presence or absence of windows, the constant murmurs, the temperature. The challenge became developing a system that could document all the components, since unlike the labs in Chemistry class, this experiment involved atmospheres and feelings—factors that are not measurable nor plainly distinguishable. To replace data sheets and graphs, I utilized colours and simple forms, elements that embody emotions, to record the atmospheres and feelings, and lastly, a map to relate the entries. Thus, a psychogeographic map of Hong Kong, inspired by Guy Debord’s Guide Pychogéographique de Paris, was created to document the different atmospheres of the study spaces.
The subway study session was particularly intriguing. Under the bright, white lights, there is an air of anxiety and impatience: heavy coats left on, quick glances at the map, and short phone calls. One would presume that the subway in one of the world’s most densely populated cities would make an appalling revision space, but it was the small movements and conversations that constantly kept me in a state of agitation, driving me to focus harder, and which made this unlikely candidate notable. After a few longer rides, however, it was discovered that the subway encompassed more changing dynamics than desirable. A particular area of the city draws a distinct group of individuals onto the subway, causing the ambience to fluctuate. With time, these shifts on the subway proved to be overly distracting.
Following the subway and the library sessions, it became clear that an efficacious study session was unlikely to take place in either an extremely quiet or an unpleasantly loud atmosphere. The desired location sat in the middle of the spectrum, a generally calm setting with occasional hushed sounds, like the home I was accustomed to. I stopped by the park on the way home one afternoon when I noticed a few elders reading the newspaper. I sat on a nearby bench and started to type away. Four hours passed swiftly since I had begun to study. In addition to the refreshing sunlight, there was a trickle of individuals walking to and fro, creating a slight distraction in my peripheral vision, contributing to an elongated focus time. To verify that it constantly presented this ambience, I revised at a park for two weeks. Studying without Wi-Fi could be an inconvenience at times, nevertheless, I am pleased to have found an alternate revision space.”
̶ Eunice Leung
Eunice Leung was born and raised in Hong Kong. She is currently completing an undergraduate degree in Architectural Studies at the University of Toronto. Her works include sculpture, graphic design, and architectural design. To view more of her work, please visit https://www.behance.net/euniceleung