Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Ron Arad's Curtain Call at the Roundhouse

A circular enclosure, a curtain suspended from the circular structure of the Roundhouse, forms a 360 degree projection screen. The curtain is made out of silicone rods, like plastic tubing but solid, hung from a circular rail high up in the Victorian ironwork. Like a bead curtain, the rods form a vertical surface but the ends hang free, and you enter by parting the strands and pushing through. The circle is eight metres high and 18 metres across. Twelve projectors, precisely aligned, make for almost seamless all-round projection. Outside the circle, a ring of twelve monitors surrounds the control desk.

So much for the technology. This works as an immersive experience: walk in through the moving image, sit inside surrounded by movement, walk around the outside trailing a hand against the rods, watch the interaction of people and installation. There is a rolling programme of twelve specially created works. The best use the whole space, like Matt Collishaw's Sordid Earth, a tropical thunderstorm mixed in with time-lapse footage of withering orchids. Others simply repeat a projection round the circle, with different degrees of success. Javier Mariscal does that but creates plenty of excitement with his animations and, like Andy Warhol, makes a virtue of repetition.

The Roundhouse advises 'pay what you can' which effectively means pay the recommended five quid, or risk embarrassment on a level with asking for tap water in a restaurant. Some cushions would have been nice - I bet Ron doesn't care to sit on a hard lino floor for two hours.

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