Throughout February 2009 strange events occurred regularly beneath the brutalist Archway Tower in North London as roller skaters came from near and far to don LED lights on legs,arms and heads and take part in making a film to illuminate Archway. In a very literal case of ‘Roll, camera, action’, residents, commuters and anyone passing through Archway were invited to play a role in illuminating a dark place on the dark winter nights. The evening of Wednesday 18 March saw ‘Light Years Away’, the film created from these hybrid event/film shoots, screened back into the space of its making and projected onto a perfect pre-existing 16:9 urban cinema screen in the form of a large white wall of an adjacent office building. This event was a bold finale and participatory skating event open to the general public with sound system and skates available.
During many cold planning evenings in Archway, I became fascinated by its nightlights and the mechanical and human traffic flows. Like many before from the Futurists to the photographic experiments of Edweard Muybridge, I looked for ways of exploring and capturing this constant light and motion, and found my starting point in the origins of film and cinematography as the ‘art of light’. The film is inspired by the increasing trend for ‘light graffiti’ in which street artists are swapping spray cans for torches and luminescent light sticks. I added skates and moving bodies and used multiple flash photography techniques to create animated light trails and ghostly images rolling through frames. The space surrounding archway tower is the ideal urban amphitheatre and the perfect space to play and experience the architecture of the city in a new way – by gliding through it on wheels.
The project was commissioned by AIR, Islington Council and TFL.
AIR (Archway Investigations and Responses) is a projects studio at Byam Shaw School of Art (Central St Martins) in Archway. It introduces artists into the everyday of Archway within the conversations, situations and institutions of an ordinary, and yet extraordinary, place. I worked closely with its visionary instigator Anna Hart to make the project happen.