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Experimental Ruins – 2012

Our Fieldwork around West London focussed on the concept of an experimental ruin, specifically due to the contraction of science into virtual and computer based models that have come to replace laboratories and large scale experimental apparatus. The research involved co-enquiry with participants through an experimental workshop. A subsequent bus tour of sites focussed in more depth on cold war science, specifically using a framework in which nuclear sites, shelters, bunkers, protest camps and contemporary weapons facilities provided a context for consideration of what should or should not preserved in terms of our national heritage.

The Workshop gave participants access to the Ossuary at Barbican, part of the Museum of London.Head of Archaeological Services, Roy Stevenson, gave a guided tour of this unannounced space which sits in a dark monumental building at the centre of a roundabout in the City of London. A short walk from our research base, we entered in the space as two small groups to examine the un-monument to the dead, that contains over 17000 remains of skeletons dug up in London as a result of construction and development projects. Participants then worked with master map maker, designer and land artist Luce Choules, to documented the events and traces of the day – in particular considering how knowledge of a space shapes our perception of what we know about the urban spaces we inhabit.

Experimental Ruins: A Critical Incursion into the spaces and sites of a post-industrial scientific and technological complex.

Following the workshop, this critical excursion, as with other events in this series, are based on extensive geographical fieldwork, location visits and access negotiations in order to give participants unparalleled levels of insight into a contemporary techno-scientific rendering of a given landscape. Moving through this landscape, each tour is organised around a spatial score, and a set of temporal considerations which allow the audience, or experimenters, to both visit places of interest, but also to watch on-board media, films (clips), listen to audio arts and view other materials (books, publications etc).

The layering of information, both factual and post-factual (conspiracy films, declassified and leaked government information films) is delivered through an unending set of associative links between selected media and place, space and time, which entwines factual and imaginative interpretations, yet is grounded in the physical and material spaces of interest.

Supplemented by specialist guests (on this tour including the dedicated amateur enthusiasts who are members of Subterranea Britannica and an anonymous interpreter from the Women’s Peace Protest Camp we collected outside of the Atomic Weapons Establishment) and expert witnesses, these spatio-cinematic events provide extraordinary insights that are transitory and we hope in some small part, transformational (for participants and organisations of interest) in terms of opening up for public scrutiny spaces and activities hidden from view.

Tour Schedule


. “…extent of atomic research still in existence in the UK as covert operations hiding in plain sight.  Truly fascinating and unsettling simultaneously.”

“…demonstrated that even the most mundane facade may conceal the most amazing structures which have played a vital part in our common history.”

See: Letter from the M4, in Art Monthly, 2012.