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Bassline: London

Graeme Miller

Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Bassline is a ‘city-specific’ large-scale sound and video installation that is recreated for specific spaces, in which a series of projections reveal the surrounding urban landscape as seen by a chain of 10-15 walkers and a bass player.

The exposure of a line of individual walkers to their passing landscape produces a panoptic trace of the City in time. Bassline is a record of this captured material that is unique to the location, to the people walking and to the time in which it has taken place.

Audiences see and hear the recorded testimonies of an hour-long walk made by the participants accompanied by a solo bass line. The piece reveals participants’ memories, associations and perceptions of the area, capturing its unseen characteristics. Bassline is a formal exposition of momentary perception and layered meaning in the urban environment.

Bassline: London

Bassline: London recorded 13 local participants, including poets, filmmakers, children, musicians, artists, long-term residents and a gardener, and their journey around the Barbican complex with a double bassist. In an underground car park, these varying voices reflected those of the inhabitants and users of the Barbican Centre, moving and intimate accounts revealing their memories, associations and perceptions of the area, capturing the vicinity’s hidden characteristics.

A solo bassline based on a work by Henry Purcell (to mark the 350th anniversary of this London-born composer) underscored the piece, adding to the creation of a new awareness of the City’s landscape.

“Graeme Miller’s ghostly installation makes suggestion into a wraparound aesthetic and takes you with it on an impossible journey. It’s like a ghost train whose carriages are made of the flickering images of lost streets and whose passengers are disembodied voices… wonderfully impressionistic, eerie and moving.”

Time Out London

“You find yourself in a strangely haunted kind of art gallery accompanied by a stately Purcell-inspired ground bass, somewhere in the distance. A line of translucent banners stretches away into the darkness, shimmering with monochrome photographs of the nearby streets and estates. Victorian alleys and faceless tower blocks are endowed with a silvery, melancholy beauty as you wander through this ethereal world, chasing time-lapse images of strangers vanishing round corners… Bassline captures the transience of city life and a sense of ghostly, layered history.”

The Independent

Bassline: London was made with Dan Saul, Tim Harries, Dave Martin, Iris Humphreys, Sarai (Project Caramel), Ian Bourn, Lily Parker-McMillan, David ‘Stickman’ Higgins, Yanki Lee, Paul the Gardener & Scruffy the dog, Sara Amini, Said Adrus, Louisa Stathopoulou, Frankie Jones and Oliver Bernard. Bassline: London was co-commissioned by barbicanbite09 and supported by Arts Council England.

Photo: Hugo Glendinning