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New Visions, New Londons: New Commissions for the Galleries of Modern London
The Sackler Hall.

LONDON.- An innovative and radical vision of the city is played out across an impressive elliptical chandelier screen, which stretches for 48 metres around the Sackler Hall, the hub and heart of the Museum’s new galleries. The cinematography of LDN24 takes its inspiration from the still frames, tone poems and landscapes of filmmakers and photographers such as Patrick Keiller, Andreas Gursky, Koyaanisqatsi and Edward Burtynsky. But The Light Surgeons craft a dynamic exchange with the living city by marrying high-definition filmwork with a kaleidoscopic LED display. This display perpetually rewrites the London scene, and prompts the audio soundtrack whose pulse is dictated by the currents of digital data.

LDN24 follows 24-hours in the life of London with hundreds of filmed sequences from across the capital - framing the city waking, working and winding down on a giant plasma screen. An enveloping stream of over 200 statistics flow around the LED ellipse, producing an ever-changing map of the city. From tidal patterns to temperatures, flight arrivals to FTSE fluctuations, RSS feeds and live links to Google searches, partner news channels, and Twitter keep an ear turned to the rhythms that compose the city. Software specially developed by the design studio FIELD choreographs the rituals and movements of London and Londoners into a compelling statistical dance.

The Light Surgeons’ LDN24 is the first winner of the Museum of London Film Commission, a new biennial competition in association with Film London, which will attract and develop London’s brightest and most innovative multimedia artists and film-makers.

EnTWINed, by the Singh Twins. Gouache and gold dust on card, 2009.
EnTWINEd is a commissioned response by the Singh Twins (Amrit and Rabindra Singh) to the Museum’s paintings by Henry Nelson O’Neil, Eastward Ho! and Home Again, acquired in 2004. These canvases, painted in 1857 and 1858, show British soldiers embarking for the First Indian War of Independence and then disembarking after completing their tour of duty. Rather than indulging in flag-waving heroics, they concentrate very effectively on the domestic impact of war. However, any sense of what the war was about and what its ramifications would be is missing.

Taking the composition of the O’Neils as their point of departure, the Singh Twins have used the idea of disembarkation to develop an image which touches upon the Indian diaspora throughout the British Isles. Among the figures disembarking from the ship are 20th century campaigners for independence, including Mahatma Gandhi, veterans of the First and Second World Wars and the artists’ grandmother and father. The Twins appear at bottom right wearing the official Singh tartan.

Almost in the middle of the composition is the prominent suffragette, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. The photograph from which this image derives is in the Museum’s suffragette collection. Sophia Singh was daughter of Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of The Punjab, who stands richly attired at the lower-right, next to a mehndi-sporting Madonna. The figures portrayed in the clouds are the freedom-fighters Guru Gobind Singh, Shiva Ji and Maharana Pratap. Analogies between the Indian War of Independence and the current War on Terror are drawn in two quotes: one from Feroz Shah, which scrolls around the left-hand border; the other from George Bush, which occupies a cartouche at top-right.

The finished painting is an extraordinary and eclectic mix of the historical and the contemporary, the serious and the ephemeral. It takes pride of place in the new Galleries alongside the O’Neil paintings.

London Wall, by Thomson & Craighead
The opening of the new galleries was accompanied by London Wall, an interactive installation by artists Thomson & Craighead.

Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead are fascinated by the way global communications networks, such as the internet, transform the way we perceive and understand our world. They use these new media to make web-based art, as well as installations for galleries and, occasionally, outdoor sites. Thomson and Craighead live and work in London and Scotland.

London Wall builds on their interest in social networks to create a snapshot of tweeting and texting activity over a defined period. From 28 May to 6 June, they downloaded publicly available tweets and texts sent within a three-mile radius of the Museum of London. This included visitors to the Museum, who were given instructions on how to participate. The artists typeset the texts and printed them out as A3 posters with a date and time tag. The posters were then pasted up in the Museum’s foyer in a chronological order. Once they reached the end of the wall, they went back to the beginning and started again. The finished wall presents social networking activity almost as a kind of concrete poetry, in which complaints about public transport and skipped breakfasts segue into fashion tips and plans for evenings out.

London | LDN24 | Museum of London |

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