Geology in shopping centers: A psychogeographic educational experiment in Brazil

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Eerola, Toni
Holding Date 11 October 2008

The psychogeography is a research method developed by the Lettrists and Situationists, avantgarde antiart movements of 1950’s and 1960’s. It explores the search, discovery, encounters and reactions produced by wandering and performing in urban space. It was adopted for undergraduate geoscience education in constructed space. Shopping centers of Great Florianópolis ( Brazil), were selected for this educational experiment because of the use of decorative rocks in their architecture: marble, gneisses, migmatites, granitoids, quartzite, gabbro, and pyroxenite.
A permission for the experiment was asked for the administrations. Students have to find, map, describe, classify, and name the rocks of these commercial territories. At the same time, the reactions of clients, produced by this unusual activity, were observed. Students were distributed in groups of three. These "psychogeographical patrols" had to find out the rocks by wandering. One student observed and described a rock, other documented the situation, and the third one observed and reported the reactions of clients. The roles were changed in each site. Some made perfomances simulating rock structures with their bodies. Groups wrote reports that were evaluated by the teacher.
The purposes of this practical exercise were the perception of geology and its applications in constructed space, practice of description and classification of rocks, visualization of geoaesthetics, creation of situations, study of people’s reactions, popularization of geology and questioning of concepts of art and consumption. The student’s attention was concentrated on rocks at floors, walls, columns, balconies, and tables, instead of boutiques, products, and shop windows. Observation of rocks in this peculiar territory and in unexpected places can be considered as a performance. This "strange" behavior produce reactions in people and expectedly, encounters.
The results of the experience were positive regarding the learning. Student’s were enthusiastic with the experience, that occurred far a way from the class room and because of its freshness and unusuality. However, it did not permitted widespread interactions and popularization of geology. The clients’ curiosity was covered by analysis. The clients of Brazilian shopping centers represent higher middle to high class people, that are more educated and sophisticated, not showing their probable perplexity and feelings so easily. However, although permission for the experience was given, security guards disturbed some students, because they did not understood what was going on and does it form some threat for the security. This kind of behavior was especially common near jewelries.
In any cases, the psychogeography is an interesting interdisciplinary method for teaching of urban geology. The potential encounters can be considered as opportunities to popularize geology and making people to notice the presence of rocks and application of geology in constructed spaces.