AUTHORS: Phil Smith (sometimes also Crab, Crab Man and Cecile Oak)
Dr. Phil Smith is a performance-maker, writer and academic researcher, specialising in work around walking, site-specificity, mythogeographies, web-walking, somatics and counter-tourism. With artist Helen Billinghurst, he is one half of Crab & Bee, who have recently completed an exhibition and walking project called ‘Plymouth Labyrinth (funded by Arts Council England), a short walking project in the Isles of Scilly and a residency at Teats Hill slipway. They published their book, The Pattern, in 2020.
In Living in the Magical Mode, (an edited collection of documents surviving from a discontinued book club), Phil starts from the insistence that "Magic is not a power or command over nature, but a relationship with nature" and goes on to explain his view of everything.
Phil's most recent book, The Silversnake Project, includes three ecogothic novellas which show us individuals and societies coming apart at the seams in the face of an eerieness that is often hiding from us in plain sight. The toolkit at the end proposes walking, hypnagogic and ‘new ritual’ practices that draw on the novellas and invite reflection and reconnection. The whole book was written and devised as part of Phil groundbreaking research at the University of Plymouth.
With Tony Whitehead and photographer John Schott, Phil recently published Guidebook for an Armchair Pilgrimage. He has also developed a ‘subjectivity-protective movement practice’ with Canada-based choreographer Melanie Kloetzel, published in January 2021 as COVERT: A Handbook. With Claire Hind and Helen Billinghurst, he co-organised the 2019 ‘Walking’s New Movements’ conference at the University of Plymouth - on which Walking Bodies is based. As company dramaturg and co-writer for TNT Theatre (Munich), he most recently premiered ‘Free Mandela’, co-authored with TNT’s artistic director Paul Stebbings, about the end of apartheid in South Africa. Paul and Phil have recently written a book about TNT Theatre’s transformation from tiny experimental theatre company to global touring organisation.
Phil is a member of site-based arts collective Wrights & Sites, who published The Architect-Walker in 2018. As well as Walking Stumbling Limping Falling (2017) with poet Alyson Hallett, Phil’s publications include Making Site-Specific Theatre and Performance (Red Globe/Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), Rethinking Mythogeography (2018) (with US photographer John Schott), Anywhere (2017), A Footbook of Zombie Walking and Walking’s New Movement (2015), On Walking and Enchanted Things (2014), Counter-Tourism: The Handbook (2012) and Mythogeography (2010). He is an Associate Professor (Reader) at the University of Plymouth.
You'd think he wouldn't have much spare time.
"The undisputed king of Mythogeography is Phil Smith" - Jane Samuels
"Mythogeography’ is a relatively new addition to the lexicon of literary walks. It finds its expression in a range of books, videos, and events by Phil Smith... Despite Smith’s position as principal practitioner, he encourages collective walking, which privileges the peripheral observations of the group in favour of following a leader. At the same time, his publications give freedom to the individual mental flights that propel almost all walking literature. Its roots in theatre practice are evident in the way Mythogeography makes walking into a site-specific performance. Mythogeoraphy is also rooted in the Situationist analysis of the society of the spectacle, and the practice of the dérive. But it is not necessarily an urban practice: it is the practice of walking ‘sideways’, as [he] puts it, adapted to any location. The mythogeographer can construct situations or perform a mode of walking which is an implicit protest against the paths and speeds demanded by the free movement of capital, and which revivifies place. "
Read this full and detailed account of Phil Smith's work by Urban Wanderer, Sarah Irving
Review his book and film reviews.
Read his Mythoughts
Go to the Counter-Tourism website
Go to the Mythogeography website
5 Ways to Use a Map ~ The full video collection of Tactics for Counter-Tourism ~ Psychogeography Today
Below, Phil's 'The Rough Arts of Contemporary Walking' - an excellent introduction to the man and his habit:
“Walking with Phil is like having my very own Doctor Who” - Siobhan Mckeown, film maker and dj Shibby Shitegeist
Phil's pandemic contribution to Whatever Next?
All Phil Smith's books with Triarchy Press:
A Sardine Street Box of Tricks Anywhere
Guidebook for an Armchair Pilgrimage
Living in the Magical Mode
Mythogeography ~ On Walking
She is the Sea
The Footbook of Zombie Walking
The MK Myth ~ The Pattern
The Silversnake Project
TNT The New Theatre
Walking Stumbling Limping Falling Walking's New Movement