"IMAGINING ST MARY MAGDALENE"
PRODUCED BY FUNK.CO.UK
24th - 31st JULY 05
I was invited by Dean Whitbread of FUNK.CO.UK to take part in a site specific event in July called Imagining. The event took place in St Mary Magdalene's Gardens and church, situated just off Holloway Road in Islington, London.
At the end of the 19th century, an Act of Parliament was passed to allow the transition from Remembrance Gardens into a public park. Many graves were relocated in the crypt of the church. Today the church provides a number of social services including playing host to an asylum seekers group.
Imagining aimed to explore and express the many aspects of the church and gardens over a period of a week.
This event took place directly after the London bombing incident, which added a certain poignancy to the whole event. In my contribution I wished to make something ethereal, that never-the-less responded, or was influenced by, influences from the real world.
My aim was to transform one of the plain church windows into a "living" stained glass fresco where sounds picked up by a microphone from within the church (including loud environmental sounds from the world outside such as police car sirens on the Holloway road, planes passing overhead, etc) influenced the visual expression (syn-aesthetic context: sound/colour/motion) of the projected imagery. I was also influenced by the soundwork of Per Platou - a multi-track audiowork (including interviews with some of the asylum seekers), which was transmitted from within the church to walkie-talkies in the park outside.
The installation ran through 3 nights and was visible to people who passed by on the streets outside the Gardens.
On the final evening a special mix, St Mary Magdalene Elegy, was played inside the church as musicians played the church organ and grande piano.
From a process point of view, certainly generating visual imagery via audio input was a central issue for me. From a public point of view it is much more difficult to say whether this artwork was syn-aesthetically successful, especially as it was presented outside a traditional art context. However, I did see regular church users taking delight in demonstrating how the installation worked to others by creating sounds. Working late into the night I observed passers-by (on foot, in cars and on bikes) stop up in their tracks to watch the window from the streets beyond.
Here is what Dean Whitbread, the initiator of Imagining wrote about the window on the project weblog:
You can tell Amanda comes from a dance background from the way she treats moving visuals. She so enjoys operating the images manually, recording sequences of interaction and dissolving movement.
In this illuminated window she is using various images of flight, including
a spiraling female figure that could be Mary, flying pigs, and medieval cherubs.
The colours dance and shine in the window in a fascinating, attractive, almost hypnotic manner, turning plain into stained glass, stillness into movement.
The church lighting in the other windows lit up the building and surrounding gardens, which drew people to the movement and colour of Amanda's centrepiece.
Documentation as MPEG4 movie [352 x 264, 5.23 min] here
Listen to Per's St Mary Magdalene Elegy [MP3 file] here
St Mary Magdalene Church Website: