A month or so ago I got an email from Bob Dickinson, the original keyboard player (and violinist!) in Magazine, before Dave Formula replaced him. Dickinson was from an avant-garde classical background: when he saw the famous notice in the Manchester Virgin store from Devoto looking to recruit members, he had “just finished doing a 6-hour version of Gavin Bryar’s ‘Sinking of the Titanic’ at the Peterloo Gallery (with Dick Witts)”.
I interviewed Bob Dickinson nearly a decade ago and had no idea about any of this. Or rather, I interviewed a Bob Dickinson who I now believe is the same one.
In the mid-90s, before the proliferation of the internet – a lot of people seemed to have access to DTP stuff and photocopying. There was an explosion of zines of all sorts of hues. I gravitated towards a kind of post- situ/neoist/mail art/occulture ultra-left milieu which included things like the Association of Autonomous Astronauts at its more accessible end, and the Equi Phallic and Neoist alliances at the other. I can’t begin to tell you how prolific and energised that scene was. Some of the texts are anthologised in Stewart Home’s Mind Invaders: A Reader in Psychic Warfare, Cultural Sabotage and Semiotic Terrorism (Serpents Tail) , alas without their graphics.
The East London Section of the London Psychogeographical Association combined left-communism and paganism and inspired a large network of similar groups across the world, as well as novellists such as Iain Sinclair.
Manchester Area Psychogeographic produced a number of one-sheet newsletters. The “group” at that stage seemed to consist only of Bob Dickinson (as was the case with many of the groups in the scene) and I interviewed him for a zine of mine that ended up not being printed. I did put all of it and some other M.A.P. texts online, though.
Bob also produced a show for BBC Radio 4 about zines which featured some of my efforts. He got a mention in Radio 1 DJ Mark Radcliffe’s book in relation to producing his show I think as well.
A renaissance man, if it is all the same one, and the connections seem to be all in place (MAP wrote about early Factory and I think Nico in Manchester…)
Since then psychogeography has become a massive industry, as an academic discipline on the one hand, and as a more literary version of tourism on the other. Both of these scenarios have attempted to remove the more confrontational aspects which made psychogeography so appealing in the first place.