Friday, 15 October 2010

museum of london: LDN24 by the light surgeons

Visiting the Museum of London during this trip became like a ritual, an essential aspect of the journey, a pilgrimage almost. Situated between the Barbican and St Paul, this part of London is one of the most challenging, an area where every head move makes your sight stumble into another element that would lead you to understand a new layer about the history of London.

In the middle of the Museum of London, surrounded by infinite objects with stories about the x lord or the y queen, major events that scarred the history of Britain and created the modern London that we know. Right in the center, in the modest café of the museum, the Light Surgeons display their screens showing London, nowadays, shot from dusk till dawn. Screen is surrounded by a display of LED lights creating an O to embrace the screen, displaying information from digital data. I was more intrigued by the video itself. Having watched it over and over again, every time I would go I would pass by to check it out, I felt like every other time, the edits' pace stop becoming a series of sequences and starts following my rhythm as a viewer.

The idea behind the work is quite simple, London by day and by night, yet selecting what to show, the cinematography, and the sequencing of the clips is what mattered. A well deserved name! I thought in one of the visits, the light surgeons know how to scrutinize the landscape, and another time, after being stuck in the tube due to a passenger standing on the track, I reach the museum, look at the video again, and see that the crispness of the material is way to clean for the London landscape, maybe 'trashy' aspect of London doesn't show well?

The Museum of London is doing a great job I think (not that they're waiting for my applause), just in the room behind the café is another exhibit by illustrators Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones, their work depicts London in the shadow of the climate change (I will keep the details to another post). So time-lapse, again, is the core of this piece, done with perfection. I am posting below bits of how the museum introduces the work, it is beautifully written.

"LDN24 by the Light Surgeons"

"... The cinematography of LDN24 takes its inspiration from the still frames, tone poems and landscapes of filmmakers and photographers such as Patrick Keiller, Andreas Gursky, Koyaanisqati and Edward Burtynsky. But the Light Surgeons craft a dynamic exchange with the living city by marrying high-definition filmwork with a kaleidoscopic LED display which perpetually rewrites the London scene and prompts the audio soundtrack whose pulse is dictated by the currents of digital data.

LDN24, The Light Surgeons, 2009, © the artist

LDN24 follows a 24-hour day in the life of London with hundreds of filmed sequences from across the capital - framing the city waking, working and winding down on a giant plasma screen.

An enveloping stream of 35 real-time information flows around the LED ellipse producing an ever-changing map of the city. From tidal patterns to temperatures, flight arrivals to FTSE fluctuations, RSS feeds and live links to Google searches, partner news channels and Twitter keep an ear turned to the rhythms that compose the city. Software specially developed by the design studio FIELD choreographs the rituals and movements of London and Londoners into a compelling statistical dance."

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