Wednesday, 23 February 2011

d e n

A den in my room. Oh how I wish it could be a permanent fixture!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Subterranean Adventures!

After taking the photographs that imagined some little houses beneath the floor, yesterday I went below ground for real on one of the Manchester underground tours!

'Look down, you might never know what you’re missing. A whole world lies under your feet deep below the city.' - Its true, it seems there are tunnels literally all over Manchester, some of the ones workers come across aren't even recorded on reference maps.

The guide first took us to some points in the city above ground and told us stories of the secret tunnels that we couldn't go in to. One of these is the nuclear bunker - this is the entrance to it on St James Street, where inside there is a 35-ton concrete door sealing the entry point:

It's made up of tunnels that lie 100 feet below ground and run for 4 miles across the city. Built in the early stages of the Cold War to protect against the A Bomb, they must have felt pretty silly by the time of its completion because by then the H Bomb had replaced the A Bomb, and it wouldn't be able to withstand one of those.
Apparently there's enough tinned food down there to last several months, as well as a recreation room with a piano and pool table. And to keep the workers spirits up they painted windows on the walls showing beautiful landscape views!

The bit of the tour where we got to go underground was into the Second World War shelters built inside the Manchester and Salford Junction canal. It was drained of water and built into big chambers, but of course it's still really wet and damp, making it hard to imagine how people could have slept down there. It was very creepy, we were imagining all sorts of creatures and ghosts that might be living down there. But it was brilliant to explore and definitely fits in with my project at the moment.
These are my photos: (it's pitch black in places without torches so my camera said no to taking too many)

That above is a mushroom.

Some of the other secret tunnels the guide told us about include an abandoned tube line, which was never finished because they ran out of money.
A secret bunker under the Midland House Hotel that Hitler had his eye on using.
And secret passageways below the Cathedral which it's thought were used by Catholics to escape through.

I'm absolutely fascinated by the discoveries of these secret places and hearing the stories that go with them. In a way, I think just knowing that they exist somewhere is even more thrilling because they remain ambiguous places that could be anything your imagination can conjure up.
However I would still jump at the chance of going inside those Cathedral tunnels!
This day out has definitely added a lot of inspiration to ideas I have at the moment.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Last week we made a trip to Liverpool to see the Nam June Paik exhibition showing at FACT gallery and the Tate. On the groundfloor of FACT is one of his pieces: 'Laser Cone', which is a fabulous laser installation, projected onto what looks like a tipi that you can lie beneath and watch the lasers perform over the conical shape. It's very hypnotic and I particularly like that at times it feels as though you're being pulled up into it like a wormhole.

We also went to see the 'Underwater' exhibition at The Bluecoat where there was a video piece called 'Jellyfish Lake' playing that shows a woman floating in water teeming with jellyfish. I found it difficult to see them brush against her at first, but then they were so very delicate and peaceful, that I wanted to watch and watch.

There are also two beautiful images by Daniel Gustav Cramer depicting the haunting, misty depths of the seabed. The rocks and silts rise over the lonely and decaying underwater world.
I took a look at his website and I love his work - it's made up of lots of quirky observations, must remember to look back at it again.

At the Tate I came across the work of Daniel Spoerri, something I hadn't seen before. The piece is called 'Prose Poems', and it's one of the works he called 'picture-traps' because he would fix the objects found in chance positions and hang them vertically on a wall. It's very odd to view, you imagine trying to eat out of the bowl and it wouldn't work. I really like this idea of taking everyday objects and changing a person's experience of them, and also the fact that he has preserved the moment - something very routine that he took notice of.

Friday, 4 February 2011

So after the feedback tutorials I realised I needed to start bringing the house to life and giving it some sort of narrative. Whilst thinking about how I might do this, I really liked the idea of lighting up the windows, as though the house has awakened and there is activity inside.
I photographed the main house after experimenting with different ways of subtly lighting it - the best was to use a bit of light from my laptop screen, it gives off a blue glow which looks very mysterious.
Then I made a cluster of small houses and photographed them glowing within a tight space, so that I could try and make it seem as though they occupied the cavity beneath the floor that the main house sits on.
They are a little community of houses hidden away so that we might never have realised they exist. I've been thinking about how things or places might remain hidden without us knowing. Like with the case of these houses, what is going on beneath our feet? We might be unaware or unsuspecting that there is more to a place than meets the eye, and the possibility of discovering where or what that might be is really exciting - it's that great desire to know that we have rattling around inside of us.

With the windows lit up you get glimpses of what's inside, and there are some eerie shadows lurking about behind the windows of the secret houses:

This is a house I made with the intention of using it as part of my project. I built it out of foamboard and papier mache - which was super hard to make smooth! It worked in the end though with parcel paper, just some small creases.
However I decided there wasn't much I could use it for as I want to concentrate more on the insides of a house, and this one can't be entered (I suppose a bit like the French mansion couldn't be in the post below). So I painted it in a way I'd seen in a magazine and now it's living in my room.
Special mention to little squirrel, the proud new owner!