Lunchtime today I found myself sitting on a plastic box outside the Royal Festival Hall that produced the sound of a cello when I plonked myself down. People sat on other boxes around me that emitted the noises associated with flutes, violins etc – collectively I suppose we formed a kind of orchestra. The piece is called PLAY.orchestra, although as I sat there as an Oboe I thought Bum Orchestra might not be a bad alternative. You can then download the sound you’ve made to your phone via Bluetooth and use it as ringtone, send to friends, burn to CD or whatever. It’s the second creative use of Bluetooth technology that I’ve come across this week. The other looks like a large advertising stand in the foyer of the NFT (there’s also one in the IMAX) where you can download a clip from one of the many classic CIO public information films currently screening at the NFT. I think the use of Bluetooth as a creative tool and as a means for disseminating artistic material is quickly becoming common practice.
I went over to Westminster the other day in search of Tot Hill, one of the prehistoric mounds of London mentioned by E.O Gordon in her seminal book ‘Prehistoric London: its mounds and circles’. I’ve previously been fixated on the Penton, because I lived about a hundred yards away mainly, but I’m considering a project based around the sites, even if it’s just a walk to link them up. I knew that it was just outside Westminster Abbey but not sure where. Tothill Fields was a feature on London maps till the C18th and is commemorated by Tothill Street. Tothill Fields is now marked by the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (opened in 1986). A friendly Abbey gatekeeper pointed out where the fields (and supposedly the mound) had been and also told me that a telephone exchange had been on the site and an old derelict building overgrown with grass. Westminster Central Methodist Hall sits on one side and was where the first U.N General Assembly was held in 1946. Along with the conference centre, the Abbey and Houses of Parliament nearby this site has maintained its ancient function as a place of congregation and worship for thousands of years.
Round the back of Middlesex Guildhall I found the relocated gate to Tothill Prison. There are several parallels between the Mounds (Penton and White Mound/Tower Hill the others) that Peter Ackroyd describes far more eloquently than I can (‘London: a biography’ p.13-15) but one symmetry he doesn’t mention is that they all housed prisons – Tower Hill probably the most famous in our history, Tothill being one of the more humane apparently and Penton Mound had the Middlesex County House of Correction on one side in Cold Bath Square.
have a look at a couple of photos I took of Tothill and PLAY.orchestra on Flickr.