29 July 2021
LONDON’S ONLY LIGHTHOUSE ILLUMINATED FOR FIRST TIME IN 150 YEARS BY NEW ARTANGEL INSTALLATION: SONIC RAY
Sonic Ray. View from Richard Wilson's Slice of Reality, 2020. Photograph: Ibrahim Serra-Mohammed and Ascension Films. Courtesy of Artangel.
Powerful beam of light projects the sound of Longplayer across the Thames
as Jem Finer’s millennial composition turns 21
30th September – 21st November 2021
Between Trinity Buoy Wharf, Docklands, and Slice of Reality, North Greenwich
The lantern room of London’s only lighthouse will shine for the first time since the late 19th century Sonic Ray – a new installation produced by Artangel celebrating the 1,000 year-long musical composition Longplayer, created by artist Jem Finer.
Originally scheduled for 2020, Sonic Ray was commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of Longplayer, which began playing from the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf at midday on 31 December 1999 and will continue to play until 2,999 when it completes its cycle as the longest piece of music in history.
From the lighthouse, a bridge of light is beamed across the river to North Greenwich, encoding and transmitting the sound of Longplayer to a new temporary listening post aboard Richard Wilson’s nautical sculpture Slice of Reality. A short ferry ride will connect the two locations, allowing visitors to experience Longplayer as a bridge of light across the river at both locations.
Built in 1864 the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf in East London was known as the “Experimental Lighthouse”, a landmark housing the workshop where Faraday conducted his optical tests. It has been the home of Longplayer for 21 years.
James Lingwood & Michael Morris, co-directors of Artangel, said: “Originally planned for 2020, Jem Finer’s Sonic Ray was amongst many arts events worldwide that were repeatedly rescheduled due to the pandemic. During the months that have elapsed, time appears to have been experienced differently, enriching the meaning and value of Longplayer as a paradigm for change. As inexorable as the tide or the movement of clouds, Longplayer seems more than ever a lodestar for our times with Sonic Ray as its signal of hope made manifest”.
Longplayer grew out of a conceptual concern with questions of representing and understanding the expansiveness of time. Its music changes from day to day, from century to century, conceived to endure and adapt to shifts in the technological and social environment. The 20th anniversary was marked last year with the Longplayer Assembly – an ambitious 12-hour conversation relay between 24 pairs of pioneering thinkers across a range of issues, from public health, climate change and economics, to art, urban design and new technology. You can watch the Longplayer Assembly here.
Sonic Ray will form part of Totally Thames Festival 2021 (1st – 30th September), a month-long season of cultural events stretching the whole 43 miles of the River Thames riverfront. For more information visit thamesfestivaltrust.org.
Commissioned and produced by Artangel
Generously supported by the Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust
Special Angels :Kieran O’Keefe and another who prefers to remain anonymous
30th September – 21st November 2021
Trinity Buoy Wharf, 64 Orchard Place, London, E14 0JW
Standard £7.50 / Concessions £5
Open dusk until late*
*Please check the booking page as timings differ weekly to accommodate for adjusted sunset timings
For further press information please contact Bolton & Quinn:
Erica Bolton or Daisy Taylor
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
0207 221 5000
NOTES TO EDITORS
Longplayer is a one thousand year-long musical composition. It began playing at midnight on the 31st of December 1999 and will continue to play without repetition until the last moment of 2999, at which point it will complete its cycle and begin again. Conceived and composed by Jem Finer, it was originally produced as an Artangel commission, and is now in the care of the Longplayer Trust. Longplayer can be heard in the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, London, where it has been playing since it began. It can also be heard at several other listening posts around the world, and globally via a live stream on the Internet. Longplayer is composed for singing bowls – an ancient type of standing bell – which can be played by both humans and machines, and whose resonances can be very accurately reproduced in recorded form. It is designed to be adaptable to unforeseeable changes in its technological and social environments, and to endure in the long-term as a self-sustaining institution.
Longplayer grew out of a conceptual concern with problems of representing and understanding the fluidity and expansiveness of time. While it found form as a musical composition, it can also be understood as a living, 1000-year-long process – an artificial life form programmed to seek its own survival strategies. More than a piece of music, Longplayer is a social organism, depending on people – and the communication between people – for its continuation, and existing as a community of listeners across centuries.
An important stage in the development of the project was the establishment of the Longplayer Trust, a lineage of present and future custodians invested with the responsibility to research and implement strategies for Longplayer’s survival, to ask questions as to how it might keep playing, and to seek solutions for an unknown future.
Artangel produces and presents extraordinary art in unexpected places in London, the UK and beyond. For over 30 years Artangel has generated some of the most talked-about art of recent times, including projects with Jeremy Deller, PJ Harvey, Roger Hiorns, Michael Landy, Steve McQueen, Taryn Simon and Rachel Whiteread. Afterness, a new project comprising new sculpture, drawing, poetry, sound, music and video opens on site on Orford Ness, Suffolk, and online on July 1 2021. Appearing anywhere from empty prisons to underground vaults, from daytime TV to the sky at night, Artangel produces art that surprises and inspires and wouldn’t be possible within the confines of a gallery. Artangel is generously supported by Arts Council England and the private patronage of Artangel International Circle, Special Angels, Guardian Angels, and The Company of Angels. Visit artangel.org.uk.
Jem Finer is a UK-based artist, musician and composer. Since studying computer science in the 1970s, he has worked in a variety of fields, including photography, film, music and installation. Longplayer represents a convergence of many of his concerns, particularly those relating to systems, long-durational processes and extremes of scale in both time and space. Among his other works is Score For a Hole In the Ground, a permanent musical installation in a forest in Kent. Self-sustaining and relying only on gravity and the elements to be audible, the project continues Finer’s interest in long-term sustainability and the reconfiguring of older technologies.
Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust
In 1998, London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) set up the Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust with a 125-year lease to hold the land and their vision in trust for the people of London, while the freehold was passed to the LB Tower Hamlets. The TBW Trust holds a 125-year lease from LB Tower Hamlets and Urban Space Management in turn has a 124 lease from the Trust. The terms provide for 25% of the Wharf's income to be paid to the Trust to use for promoting arts activity in the area. To date the Trust has supported and funded a wide range of arts projects and organisations.
Thames Festival Trust
Thames Festival Trust’s vision is for rivers in cities to be recognised as outstanding urban space platforms for arts, culture and heritage, accessible to all and enjoyed by all. Its mission is to increase the appreciation of the River Thames in particular, and rivers in general, and their importance to us all by creating and promoting river and river-related art, education and heritage events as well as sporting, cultural, community and environmental activities.
Totally Thames is an annual season of surprising, diverse and accessible arts and culture throughout the month of September on, beneath and along the River Thames curated and managed by the Thames Festival Trust.
Totally Thames 2021
Wednesday 1st – Thursday 30th September 2021
Trinity Buoy Wharf, Orchard Pl, London, England E14 0FL, United Kingdom