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Within

St Augustine’s Tower, Hackney, London,
28/07/04 - 02/08/04

A sound/light-based durational installation, witnessed as an intimate journey alone (or via staggered entry of up to 4 people) up to each level of the tower and into each of its rooms. Within explored the encountering of time and space in the historical context and social locale of the 12th century tower and its shift from day to night; in order to question notions of how space is occupied and the traces we leave behind.

Funded by Arts Council England, Learning Trust and A SPACE

Concept/artistic direction and recordings: Lisa Alexander
Sound design and recordings: Ged Barry
Production/lighting design: Jo Manser

"A very sensitive, thoughtful 'marriage' of mortar and mortal," Anne Bean

From Arts Council Report:

"Within is a sound-based installation situated in several small chambers in St. Augustine's Tower in Hackney. It is a thoughtful, promising work by Lisa Alexander (and group), a yoing artist who seems to be moving out of a dance/performance background towards a more general interest in the way space is occupied.

This is a theme with which much performance theory is concerned, but Alexander's project is not heavy-handed. Rather, it provides room for the spectator to experience the piece alone. There's plenty to experience. The tower (apparently the oldest medieval tower in London after the Tower of London) is a crumbly, stand-alone affair (it was built by Templars and the church was destroyed sometime ago) and not often open to the public. We are admitted a few (up to four) at at time: on the ground floor, there is a fine, 1699 tomb and a few piles of masonry. The only interventions from Alexander and the sound designer Ged Barry are thick, red velvet drapes, burning incense, a long ladder propped against the wall (and leading nowhere) and a soundtrack of bells, of children (from a local school) reading the list of the parish's dead and peals of bells. An oscillating electronic sound comes from above. Climbing the tight spiral staircase towards its, we find another chamber above filled with a large swinging pendulum. A torch attached to its cord illuminates the circle it describes - (this is in parallel to the actual pendulum on the wall, whose sound is amplified and at times speeds up as shafts of light rise through the old wooden floorboards, against a background of Hackney Marshes recorded with contact microphones). In the next chamber the clock mechanisms are housed. Here we find a visitors' book, miked up (by Patrick McGinley), so the act of writing becomes a heard one. And above, in the final chamber there hangs a bell, while, projected on the floor, is a live camera-feed from the clock-room below. In all chambers, the red curtains feature, billowing out in the wind.

Within aims at a comtemplative experience about the way we occupy space, in an historical way and what traces we leave behind. The tomb, the children's readings and the book of record itself makes this explicit. In a larger sense, Within is a poignant project to undertake in a building so rundiown that tramps - people of such small historical significance that their lives receive the bleakest of records - live in the park next door. Lisa seems to have worked with many local orgainsiations and this is and installation sypathetic to its surroundings. Moreover, her group is to be commneded for champinonng art in an area that is often artless."