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51 32 6.

954 N / 0 00
47.0808 W
Standng there n a ed wth an unnterrupted vew for
forty kometres, I thought that the cty, because of ts very
nature, woud someday be outmoded and abandoned as a
passng phenomenon," Toru Takemtsu, Nature and Music.
Snce the turn of the year, I have made my way to a
partcuar pont of ongtude and attude. Strong, standng
st and sometmes sttng, n brght sunght and grey
drzze, n mornngs, afternoons and evenngs, Ive tred to
Magpes chuckng, brambe bushes caught n the breeze,
seagus cang n crces. Trans rattng across the ponts,
|ets bankng n the sky above, tramc makng ts way up and
down Stratford Hgh Street. The peope I have met - wth
dogs, on bkes, wth cameras, on foot - have taked of one
thng, The Oympcs, and theyve ooked n one drecton, to
the north, to the vast mountans of chocoate-cooured
earth, swarmng wth trucks, dggers and workers n H-Vs
of |anuary: Everythng An Artwork
Thus, drft: n honour of the damned", |ean-Franos
Lyotard, Driftworks.
Eary n the New Year, I accompaned Monca Bago - one
of Sound Proofs curators - on a reconnassance trp to Fsh
Isand. As we wandered towards the Oympc ste and I saw
the rst spashes of acd bue markng out the permeter, t
became cear that there were others here wth smar
A arge group of twenty-somethngs, men and women,
wrapped aganst the cod n eece and Gore-Tex, sometmes
shadowed us and we sometmes shadowed them. Havng
ost sght them n the ndustra estate near what remans of
Marshgate Lane, we were re-unted n the ee of the bue
wa beneath the raway ne. As Monca and I threaded our
way through the now statonary group I notced that they
had come equpped; varousy armed wth sketchpads, st
cameras of a strpes and a coupe of camcorders.
In the foowng weeks chance and crcumstance made
smar encounters a feature of my vsts. On one day, I
counted over thrty peope settng up trpods and
photographng the massed earthworks to the north, the
accumuated detrtus aong the Green Way and each other.
On another day, the route west to Bow was temporary
bocked by another trpod, ths tme mounted wth a hgh-
end vdeo camera set to record a young man removng
pars of trousers from hs rucksack and pung them on, one
after the other, wth the bue wa as hs theatrca
I ntay assumed that the photographers, sketchers and
performng vdeo artsts must a be pursung the same
bref, set by the same art coege or archtecture schoo. But
coser observaton, eavesdroppng and the occasona
conversaton reveaed that most had come here through
dherent routes, sharng no other amatons than those of
tme, pace and actvty. And I was sharng, too, carryng my
notebook and borrowed paraboc reectors, mcrophones
encased n wndsheds and recordng gear to the same
short stretch of the Green Way.
And what f art was ony an excuse? |ust a |ustcaton for
makng those |ourneys that our other obgatons mght
keep out of reach. Of course, drftng amess wth the
damned and Debord has an cy purty about t. Yet an
exporaton s st an exporaton, however sued t s by
the purposes of art. It st aows me to hear, see, fee and
thnk more than I mght otherwse have done.
|anuary: Crcng Overhead
Hamet: Do you see yonder coud thats amost n
shape of a came?
Poonus: By th mass, and ts ke a came, ndeed.
Hamet: Methnks t s ke a wease.
Poonus: It s backed ke a wease.
Hamet: Or ke a whae?
Poonus: Very ke a whae. Shakespeare, Hamlet
The area of the Green Way whch Ive been
exporng for these few months s rased up above
what was once the Leas auva oodpan. There s
much to see at ground eve and much to hear, too,
but t s the sky that domnates.
The sky s a great upturned bow that s cast afresh
each moment. Grey, whte and back couds n
wsps, n banks or n thck bankets pued across
the whoe scene. Every shade of bue, every form of
ght. Dherent suns and, on one day, the moon as a
chaky ba.
Condensaton tras are a frequent vstor. The
exhaust from panes droppng down to London Cty
Arport or watng for ther sot on the runways of
Gatwck or Heathrow streak across the open
expanse of what es above. At rst the contras are
an ehect wth an mmedate cause, trang the
pane tsef. Hours ater, the pane ong gone, the
contra has been burred and smudged unt t |ons
the other couds as a barey detectabe nteroper,
nature and cuture |onng uneasy hands.
As we as contrbutng to what coud be seen when ookng
upwards, the panes musce n on the acoustc atmosphere.
Mechanca energy transmtted from the |et engnes,
hecopter rotors and, occasonay, propeers, pushes out
nto the mmedatey surroundng ar n the form of a puse
that s shaped by some pockets of moecues beng
squeezed together whe ther neghbours are stretched
apart. Ths puse s caed a sound wave, the pattern of
whose peaks and troughs s descrbed by acoustcans n
terms of frequency, amptude and wave shape and by
muscans n correspondng terms of ptch, oudness and
As the wave ros away from the dstant engne or rotor or
propeer bade t shfts through the sky at three hundred
and sxty sx metres a second before eventuay codng
wth my outer ear and tunneng nwards to be perceved n
a ts compexty.
of February: Hc Sunt Dracons / There Be Dragons
The dea of the pan speaks more mpressvey n the runs
of great budngs than n esser ones, however we
preserved they are", Water Ben|amn, The Origin of
German Tragic Drama.
I spent a mornng watchng a budng beng dsmanted,
pece by pece.
The budng had been a modest bock of ats, no more than
one hundred metres hgh. The hoes smashed nto ts sde
gave a sense of the nteror pan: a oor spt nto two
dwengs, each wth a bedroom, bathroom, ktchen and
vng room. The destructon was ehected by a yeow dgger
tted wth a teescopc arm at the end of whch was a
pncer, ke prunng sheers scaed up to the sze of a
motorbke. As the pncer worked ts devastaton, a thck
hose payed water across the brck, paster and concrete.
The noses that rent the ar were ones of pneumatc
gaspng, the coapsng of cengs and was and the spray
of pressursed water. For a the tumut, the sheer force at
ts dsposa ent the dggers actons a genteness, nudgng
ths partton, grppng that wndow edge, ftng and
droppng rubbe wth a practsed restrant.
Observng the dgger at work, an mage popped
unexpectedy nto my head: a haf-memory of the CGI T-Rex
n the m Jurassic Park pushng ts snout wth unexpected
tenderness aganst a 4 x 4. On an organsed tour of the
Oympc Park, our gude mentoned that the workers had
found an apt nck-name for ths pece of machnery: the
On the south face of the fourth oor of the budng, opened
up by the process of demoton, a room became vsbe. Its
was were panted paste pnk, wth a mura depctng a sea
shore curved wth perspectve, yeow sand |onng the surf
to eanng pam trees.
of February: Merry Ambassadors From Another Ream
Ca the sounds of brd fe musc and there's a pace for
humanty wthn them. Ca them anguage and t's a mute,
untransatabe, a foregn tongue wth no one around to
transate for us", Davd Rothenberg, You Make My Heart
Magpes are hoppng between the pyons and the new
earth, ther chatterng, catterng cas ke so many dce
beng thrown.
A coot drfts n crces down the cana. Its mate staks
through the rushes at the waters edge. The pars
movements are marked by tte acoustc exposons, tngs,
phuts and ptts.
Herrng gus whee and whne, fussng ther brght whte
feathers through the damp and darkenng ar.
A tte robn has uttered around the towpath a sx tmes
Ive been down here. There s usuay toast - burnt oherngs
for the redbreast. The robns bursts of ght are
accompaned by a mnature whrrng of wngs that stop and
start wth admrabe abruptness.
One unchtme, a sma group of geese turn across the
Green Way. Sod and purposefu they head north-east up
the remans of the vaey. On another day, two swans pu
themseves across the sky, wngaps ceary audbe.
As |anuary passed the caendar onto February, the shrubs
payed host to more and more brds, ther presence cearest
between one and two ocock, when the workers down toos
and a certan quet coud sette n. Backbrds sway hgher n
the st bushes, cang seep". Dun-cooured brds run n
and out n twtterng waves. A gang of fera pgeons rse and
fa as peope pass.
A par of cormorants pass over the cement works, ookng
too od and too exotc to be n ths tme and ths pace.
A company of crows ro ther pevses up and down across a
hgh bank of earth, castng sdeways gances, as f for
admraton. There are gruh caws" but I never see the
beaks move.
March: The Guty Peasure of Runs
Runs: Induce revere; make a andscape poetc", Gustave
Faubert, Dictionary of Received deas.
In the bordernes, the dspaced and the dscarded have
found ther restng paces. An Edwardan mrror, ts gass
hed ntact by a paster surround that has yeowed ke
untended teeth. A eather footba casts a short shadow n
the |anuary sun. A haf-fu botte of h-tech water, ts
peeng abe hed up-rght by the breeze. A green Chrstmas
hat wth gtter, fake fur trm, goden stars and whte pom-
pom. Broken prams, pastc bags caught on barbed wre,
chpped garden gnomes and smashed mobe phones,
torched motorbkes, food-wrappers, cgarette packets n
varous states of coapse. Ths s the key tter of the
mna, the standard sweepngs of the shore-ne, of the ay-
by and of the track-sde.
There are ess expected nds, too. Huge crces of pastc
tubng by the sde of the path - ke so many hua-hoops
thrown n a hedge. Sectons of cabe, wre and meta. Empty
sand-bags and pant pots and spray-cans. Sacks of woven
pastc wth ooped handes ready for a fork-ft to take ther
stran. Overas of dherent fabrcs and dherent coours
caught n dherent poses.
From week to week, thngs change. New ob|ects appear, od
ob|ects dsappear. Others move around - one day by the
cana, the next, up by the raway brdge. Every now and
then, h-vs |acketed workers sweep through the ste wth
bn bags removng what they can.
of March: Hdng n The Lght
Yeow nes the kerbsde. Yeow earth-movng equpment
wth ashng yeow ghts, cuttng a wound n the
andscape". Derek |arman, !hroma.
Across the span of the ste three coours preva.
There s the so tsef. In some paces, the so s rased nto
huge earthworks, attened across the summts, the anks
sopng down to ground eve. In other paces, there s
dggng down rather than png up, great bows carved out
of the mud, ther shapes rehearsas for what w eventuay
be concrete and stee, grass and cnder. On a wet day, the
so s the coour of cookng chocoate and gstens under
the arc ghts. When the sun s out, the earth paes to the
hue of dry bark.
Then there s the bue wa that skrts the ste. The bue
pant has found ts way onto mud, onto the asphat paths
and has spattered the odd bush. There are dscarded rubber
goves wth bue tde-marks and pant trays dyed the
dstnctve shade. The wa, standng some 12 feet oh the
ground s sad to extend for 11 mes. At the more vsbe
ponts, the wa s adorned wth rousng mages of the sports
to come: stranng bodes, the camaradere of the hug, h
tech gear. Gramt s notceabe by ts absence. Ony the odd
fuck the Oympcs" to provde a photo opportunty. The
very arrogance of ths bue somehow makes t harder to
address the constructon as a barrer, pushng t towards the
scuptura terrtory nhabted by a Chrsto or a Matta-Cark
or the potca symbosm of pubc statuary.
Fnay there are the yeows. The yeows of the machnes
for dggng and movng earth and the uorescent yeows of
the ubqutous h-vs vests and |ackets. I bought mysef a h-
vs vest from a shop n Stratford, London. On my rst vsts
to the ste, I used to unfod t from my backpack on the DLR
to Puddng M Lane and pu t over my coat. I tod frends t
worked a charm: everyone eft me and the conspcuousness
of my recordng equpment aone. One day, the vest stayed
on ts hanger n my wardrobe and then I dscovered that
beng eft aone meant beng eft out of a the nterestng
conversatons I coud have wth the peope who crossed and
re-crossed the Green Way.
March 17
: Ffty Four Mnutes on the Green Way.
Note down what you can see. Anythng worthy of note
gong on. Do you know how to see what's worthy of note? Is
there anythng that strkes you? Nothng strkes you. You
don't know how to see", Georges Perec, "#ecies of "#aces.
9.09 Three men, a ther heads shaven, n tracksuts and t-
shrts, tak wth great anmaton as they have done every
day Ive been here.
9.15 A femae |ogger, har hed up n a pony ta, pan grey
sweatshrt. She s her ungs wth cod ar, hands hed on
her wast.
9.17 An oder man wth grey beard. Tartan scarf, bue
gabardne coat. He eans on the brdge ron work. Smokes
two cgarettes.
9.25 A man and a woman make ther way east aong the
Green Way. He wears a h-vs |acket and carres a prstne
hard hat. She a cty sut. They pont and confer. They return
the way they came, towards Bow.
9.39 The phone n my pocket rngs. I take the phone out
and cance the ca. A ped wagta skts over the grave.
9.41 A xed whee racng bke, ts owner proud n hs skn-
tght shorts and zppered t-shrt, bare arms and egs ruddy,
a thck ock wound around hs wast, hs face a sheen of
9.43 Three women make ther way up to the Green Way
from the raway underpass. They have each got a camera
around ther necks. They stand near the concrete par
where the pgeons come to rest.
9.50 Another cycst, ths tme on a mountan bke.
9.53 Two men n uorescent |ackets, wearng hard hats and
cear pastc wrap-round gasses.
9.57 A bearded man, n a Thames Water |acket stops to
chat to me.
10.01 We are |oned by a |ttery young man who asks f I am
montorng nose.
10.03 A man wth two short dogs approaches. They snap
and stran aganst ther eases. Dont worry, they are ony
beng frendy". And they are.

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