Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa

writer, performer, psychogeographer

Yolo County Psychogeographies (2012)

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Yolo County Psychogeographies 1 of 4: Body Map & Convo with Train Station

Yolo County Psychogeographies 2 of 4: Rose’s Tavern, Almond Fest & Goat Musical

Yolo County Psychogeographies 3 of 4: Wine Country Driftin’

Yolo County Psychogeographies 4 of 4: Wine Country Driftin’ Continued

The psychogeography as defined by Guy Debord (founding member of Situationist International) incorporates the technique of the “drift.” The psychogeographer studies the effects of a geography on her emotions by making herself available to a demystified experience of space and to its corresponding elements of chance. These autoethnographic-psychogeographic videos were created during my last semester at CCA for a class in which I created a sensory engagement installation, inspired by my encounters with the people, resources, landscapes and animals of Yolo County, in general, and the town of Esparto, more specifically. My final project at the Esparto Train station involved wine and almond tastings (in exchange for memories and hopes for the train station) and also featured these videos. The videos in part 1 document my initial journeys, as I became seduced by the landscapes of the Capay Valley in which Esparto is located. As a result, I began to envision my future alternative multi-purpose winery. The first of the six videos suggests dreams of this winery while frolicking with the pigs encountered at Full Belly Farm on the first trip to Esparto. The second video features an interview with the train station, as a character to be explored for its potential as a site for performance. During this second trip to Esparto, I unknowingly begin to employ the methodology of the “drift.”

One aspect of my sensory engagement installation was to disrupt the primacy of vision. Thus I foregrounded taste and smell. During one of my field work visits (captured on the third video), I went to three wineries in the county, two of which generously donated to my installation (Crew Wines and Turkovich Family Wines). I was also able to obtain a variety of flavored almonds from Central Valley Foods, Inc. in Zamora. By featuring local food and wine, my intention was to explore the idea of how taste and smell create a sense of place and memory, partly inspired by the notion of “terroir” as written by Amy Trubek in The Taste of Place. Furthermore, I was interested in learning more about the differences between the Yolo wine industry versus Sonoma and Napa, and how the former might provide an alternative to the highly commercialized and Disneyfied industry of the latter. This video features short clips of my visit to the Crew winery located in the AVA (American Viticultural Area) of Dunnigan Hills in Yolo County and snippets from an interview with one of their very knowledgeable winemakers, Lacey Steffey. Their wines are exquisite! I was especially pleased by the wines they generously donated such as the Syrah, Malbec and other blends made from Spanish varietals.

The second half of my day of field work exploring the wine region of Yolo County involved a visit to the tasting room and winery of Turkovich Family Wines in the quaint historic town of Winters (documented in the final video). This last video features clips from a tour of the winery. Owner Chris Turkovich graciously offered his time as he took me through the space and explained the traditional way of making champagne. He donated bottles of Roussane to my installation—a varietal from the French wine region of Rhône and one of my new favorites! Their relaxing and sophisticated tasting room, which also features delicious cheeses made by Chris’s brother, is definitely worth a visit.