Chorus by UVA and Mira Calix is an installation at The Wapping Project until the 18th July.
It’s deceptively simple but powerful – lights and speakers on pendulums swing and illuminate, emitting building, swooping, harmonies of operatic chorus notes. You walk around and underneath it, but all the time it surround you.
The darkness of the old boiler house that The Wapping Project calls home becomes something like the engine room of a massive brick starship, or the sanctum sanctorum of a neo-Victorian occult engineering cult.
There are further echoes of scifi.
The chorus is aurally-reminiscent of the Ligeti-soaked startup sequences of Kubrick’s stargates.
The deserted Victorian infrastructure that the piece inhabits is a Nigel Kneale set, the Hobbes Lane of Quatermass & The Pit, or the oozing walls of The Stone Tape.
It’s a hauntological intervention, an architecture made of immaterials, a ghost-box of sorts; a real, working, time machine and a wonderful excuse to head to Wapping.
Pretty near the BERG studio, on the edge of the City of London, is this structure. It’s a golf driving range, with astroturf, a wooden faux-bavarian wurst shack, a bar, a golf store and a few other things I think.
It’s based on some waste ground that I imagine was destined to be redeveloped into shiny-new late-capitalist office accommodation, much like the adjacent glass spires of outer-Broadgate and hinter-Hoxton.
Every time I see it out of the corner of my eye it makes me think of Cedric Price’s “Fun Palace”…
…the seminal scheme for a temporary place/happening where you:
“Choose what you want to do – or watch someone else doing it. Learn how to handle tools, paint, babies, machinery, or just listen to your favourite tune. Dance, talk or be lifted up to where you can see how other people make things work. Sit out over space with a drink and tune in to what’s happening elsewhere in the city. Try starting a riot or beginning a painting – or just lie back and stare at the sky.”
The aesthetic of our Golf Shanty Fun Palace at the edge of the city is more reminiscent of his only (?) built scheme: the aviary at London Zoo…
…perhaps crossed with The ThunderDome and the million B&Q treated-wood gazebos pressed into service outside Britain’s pubs since the smoking ban.
Of course, it’s far from Price’s high-tech interactive land of do-as-you-please – you get to spoil a good walk without even getting the walk, and then buy a German sausage in a bun.
However I think that Cedric would have maybe approved of this ramshackle, opportunistic, symbiont that’s sprung up on the edge of a dense lode of international capital.