siren @ the shunt lounge…

To begin – after six months of southwest London middle class ‘hip’, this is absolutely the coolest place I’ve been in all of London so far. Old train shunting tunnels under London Bridge station. Dark. Not dim, but dark so you see silhouettes growing larger until you meet in the middle and touch by accident while you’re momentarily lost when the black bodies seem to merge.

Photo of previous performance of Siren

The machines of the installation fill a vast sequence of blocked off tunnels. At the end more darkness yet there should be a bar here somewhere. Follow the faint hubbub and indeed in the unlikeliest of places, and yet the most perfect, a drinking hole where conversations float up into the vaulted ceilings and the bartenders smile.

This place is cool, but cool in a way you can’t put your finger on. Well dressed in black by sloppy velvet retro by geeky youth with even a few young children for variety. And to remind you that the Tube is not far away, a dusky smelly haze softening the edges of an already suggestive light.

And then the performance. This is a members’ bar for art enthusiasts and tonight’s presentation does not disappoint. A sound installation which two men in thick wool suits ‘play’ for us, tuning, then setting to rotate, speakers on the end of poles of varying length and distance from the floor. Proving physics is not just theory and startling me by its acutely sensitive spatial dependency. I move one foot and I’m in an entirely new sonic world. The vaults make for an unusual acoustic space anyway, but I am incredulous at the minute yet dramatic changes only I can control.

Photo of previous performance of Siren Photo from Ray Lee’s website

They speed up the rotation and turn off the few lights, leaving only the red LED tips glowing, like sonic fireflies trying to tell us the meaning of the universe. Then they turn off the deep drone that was always present, to which they tuned the ethereal multi-hued cacophony, and we know.

– Siren by Ray Lee, The Shunt Lounge, 17-19 Jan 2007

More about Siren and Ray Lee –

Elemental Arts

The Shunt Lounge

(obviously I didn’t take any of the photos in this post….)


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