This is a speculative fictional guide to County Leitrim, Ireland. It entails the creation of a tour that aims to mix the everyday with the fantastical as perhaps a way to navigate reality, finding poetic truths along the way. Fiction can make the real more poignant, be predictive of the future and there is no objective reality anyway. History and memory as well as our individual reality are largely a subjective fiction and by embracing and understanding our reinvention of the past and creation of the present we may even get to change our future?

So called ‘truth’ is still stranger than fiction however and there is far more truth in the Guide than you might think (sprinkling some fiction in allows us to tell some of these stories too). The Guide also considers that Irish tourism has traditionally depended on things that are not real (leprechauns), debatable (St. Patrick) or intangible (craic) and wonders aloud if cultural tourism should do the same. Also, mainly through the media and spin we already live in a false, exaggerated and confusing consensus reality, of which we should all question the reality of more than we generally do.  It also plays with the idea that we often only know a place in our imaginations, by reputation and what we have researched about it online or elsewhere. Also the blow-in/new comer (mainly its artists) has to create their own history of place for themselves.

How we perceive and sort the data we take in about the world has always been unique to us and the virtual map of reality that is each individuals mind. Today this is evermore true as we increasingly and too often unquestionably take our impressions of this nature through the Internet and other types of media. This virtual world has long had the power to convince us that black is white and that truth is fiction and vice -versa. If written or presented convincingly enough untruths have a habit of becoming very real. By now we all know what its like to be taken in by an online article or belief, if only for a short time, the written word or a webpage has a convincing aura we should question more often than we do. Authentication builds as more people believe what they have read and tell others. Due to this and more we are all increasingly living in strange and unique in-between realities, often at the same time, both real and imagined, here nor there. A world in which what you think is true for you.

Whatever our take on it is, it’s you who get to take the tour and decide what is true, false, possible or of no interest to you whatsoever.

In May 2012 Swedish based artist/curator Isabel Löfgren was selected to take part in the Leitrim and Roscommon county council sponsored Trade artist residency programme. Before she arrived in physical form she dropped her virtual self at a random point in the Google StreetView version of Co. Leitrim. There she found herself on an anonymous and narrow rural road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it was from this point that she conceived of another virtual guide to the county, a guide map of sorts which also does not reveal the true territory it purports to show. This is an in-between place from our experience and imagination, the subjective truth of which is very much like our own, fact and fiction combined.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a starting point for the Guide, which Isabel explains in ‘The Story Behind the Guide’.

An online map is also being created for you to view some of the works so far, both online and in person. We invite the reader to hitch-hike from post to post and site to site in any order while deciding how they interpret the project.

The Guide could be for an emerging type of tourist or perhaps one yet to be.

We hope like any good work of fiction you will enjoy getting lost in this world for awhile.

Contact: rennicksstephen at eircom.net

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This project was initiated by Isabel Löfgren in collaboration with Stephen Rennicks.

changing reality